Sunday, September 21, 2008
In fairness, Lynne Cheney and I have never met in person.
We are both Wyoming women, girls from the sagebrush of the windswept prairie and desert, whose lives have been significantly impacted by the oil and gas industry that competes for attention with the cattle ranchers of the Equality State.
But most importantly, we share a common ancestor, Ebenezer Peck of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, which makes us distant cousins. Our own respective Peck ancestors became Mormon pioneers and crossed the plains. Her favorite to cite is Fannie Peck; mine is Martin Horton Peck, who was part of the Nauvoo Brass Band in the glory days of the Mormon settlement, and later became the first blacksmith in the Salt Lake Valley.
Lynne Ann Vincent Cheney.
Lynne Ann Vincent was born in Casper, Wyoming, and attended college in Colorado. She is an author, historian, and from 1986 to 1993 served as Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
She is currently Second Lady of the United States, a position she has held since January 2001, and married to the Vice President of the United States,Vice President of the United States, another Wyoming native, Richard Bruce Cheney.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Many years in the month of March my husband and I found ourselves on the beautiful island of Maui.
And many times, in those many Marches, we found ourselves at the Sacred Hearts School festival in Lahaina, supporting the local parish school with its annual fundraiser, where we went to eat local food, listen to local musicians, get chair massages, buy silliness and seriousness, and participate in the silent auction. It was always a good time.
Rows and rows of picnic tables lined up behind the church next to tends of food provided by local restaurants and merchants, island food, served island style, and accompanied by island music. We always met the most interesting people at those tables.
One year, we sat down in an empty space at a table across from a man in a crocheted cap, with two little girls. One was obviously his daughter, and the other, apparently was her friend. They were gracious, warm and friendly. We sat and visited about the school. The daughter attended there, with her friend, and the dad was along to support.
At some point in the conversation, it somehow seemed appropriate to ask him about himself, what he did for a living.
His daughter snickered. "What does he do?" she replied, giggling, as though I should know. "He's Marty Dread!"
He suddenly stood up and removed his cap. Dreadlocks cascaded to his shoulders, and he shook his head.
That was how we came to meet Marty Dread. He was performing at the fundraiser, with his band, later that evening, a very famous (although we didn't previously know it) Hawaiian reggae performer in the spirit of Bob Marley, and a Rastafarian who sent his daughter to Catholic school and supported the school and the local community.
We stayed to hear him sing, and he was glorious. We went out next day and bought his CDs so we could have his music with us when we returned to the mainland.
Now, when we return to Maui, we go to the Hard Rock Cafe on Front Street in Lahaina on Monday nights, where Marty Dread can be found performing with his band when he's not touring elsewhere. And we remember that great night so many years ago when we first met him over some mixed plate, with a couple of little giggling girls.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Shortly after college, I worked for two years in the early 1980's in the Department of Neurology at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, where I met and worked with a number of fascinating people who had an impact on my life.
One of them was Annie Osborn.
A graduate of Stanford Medical School, Anne Osborn was a neuroradiologist at the University of Utah, and as such, had a lot of overlap with the Neurology Department. She was at the time a single woman in her mid-thirties and a rising star in her field, well respected by her colleagues and by the medical students who trained there. She had a memorable persona, and a singular laugh that would echo down the hallway. Although not particularly old by any means, one wondered if she was likely to marry, and simply thought of her as being single, and very much a professional. The fact that she was an LDS woman, a professional, and single, was at the time somewhat noteworthy, and she was included in LDS Church publications writing on the very subject of being single in 1977.
Anne went on to write the definitive textbook on the subject of neuroradiology, and became the first female president of the American Society of Neuroradiology.
Anne G. Osborn.
Annie Osborn, the well respected, dynamic, neuroradiologist later married a General Authority of the LDS Church, Ronald Poelman, after the death of his first wife, and went on to have a successful career as an author, not just of numerous medical texts, but of religous and autobiographical works as well. Her book, The Simeon Solution: One Woman's Spiritual Odyssey, is her own account of her life and journey.
She continues to be on the staff at the University of Utah, and is well respected as an educator and author.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
I was on an airplane coming back from who-knows-where in June 2002 when I picked up that day's copy of USA Today and saw a photo of Brett Parkinson directing volunteers in an organized search for missing Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart.
Brett Thomas Parkinson.
To his brothers, he was Tommy.
Everyone has that one indefinable person in their life; for me, that person was Brett Parkinson. I doubt his memory of our first meeting has faded any more than mine has. We were in Larry Best's Honors Freshman English class; I'd just read for the class my essay on Muffin Miller about my exploits as a 16-year-old cooking for a hay crew on a cattle ranch in southwestern Wyoming, and Brett, intrigued by the whole thing, pressed me to skip my next class, Poetry Writing, with Elouise Bell, to hang out with him in a booth in the Cougareat.
He was a bad influence. But lots of fun. I won't soon forget the first time he took me up to the Sundance Summer Theater in a VW he borrowed from his brother, and predictably ran out of gas. I won't forget doing laundry late at night with him and Thayne Larson. I won't forget our taking over Lorna Nielson's English class one day in her absence to read Woody Allen's "The Whore of Mensa" to the class.
Brett went off to Brazil by way of San Diego after our freshman year at BYU. I had the distinct privilege and great honor of seeing him off at the Salt Lake City Airport with extended family and friends and being his personal correspondent for the next two years. I won't forget that his aunt, Jackie Nokes, was "Miss Nancy" from Romper Room (I'd actually been a guest as a young child). I won't forget when he left. I won't forget when he returned, or the years that followed with a wider circle of ragtag friends at BYU. It's all fairly impressed in vivid memory.
Those were formative years.
The missives from Brazil were precious treasures--tales of Ipanema, and Copacabana, running on the beach, getting unauthorized tans, sipping much-too-bubbly guarana, waltzing on the edges of Carnival, noting the poverty of the Brasilian people perched on the mountainside in glaring contrast to the wealthy lower down, unfortunate and unexpected calamities, and of course, the colorful mission president who was a former Methodist minister, Helio da Rocha Camargo--sometimes accompanied by photos, or interesting cards, and the occasional highly entertaining and not easily forgettable audiotape, and all signed off in the same memorable signature. They contained much love for the father and mother he adored, a progressive, fit and well travelled physician father he greatly admired, and a strikingly beautiful and talented mother who reminded him of a young Marlene Dietrich.
I won't forget walking around the Joseph Smith building discussing the latest issue of Dialogue, singing Saturday's Warrior tunes, spending late nights at Perkins Cake and Steak, babysitting Aerie and Miel, or driving to Ogden to see our mutual friend Diana Sather. I won't forget him sitting outside the communal bathroom in our girls-only Heritage Halls apartment while I was soaking in the bathtub, which for BYU, seemed fairly provocative at the time. One of our first late night walks outside Deseret Towers mused on topics mixing the urbane and the theological in ways that were decidedly consciousness raising for a 17-year-old, and that typified many of our subsequent conversations. He was the face and sensibility of Ralph Fiennes atop a Trevor Southey mannekin, with equal parts of Ryan O'Neal from "What's Up, Doc?"
He was a runner, running from the desert palms of Indio and the Coachella Valley to the hills of Provo and the beaches of Rio and beyond. And he had an amazing facility for languages (as a freshman he came into BYU with the high score on the National Spanish Exam). He had a restless spirit, an inquisitive mind, and a generous heart, all gifts to those who knew him well.
Somewhere at the bottom of the Amazon is my copy of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" loaned to him, with copious notes in the margins.
Brett came back from his mission to Brazil not knowing whether to go into medicine (as his father and oldest brother had), or law (as another brother had). He eventually finished his degree in English at BYU, married well, violinist Kelly Clark, and went off to Tulane to medical school. I was working at the University of Utah Medical Center some years later when I saw her perform in concert on local television, with images of Brett in the audience and their newborn son.
Many years later I became friends, quite coincidentally, with one of his former missionary companions from Chicago; to identify that person with the "Elder West" in Brett's always colorful missives from Brazil was somewhat of a disconnect.
Dr. Brett Parkinson is now a radiologist practicing in Salt Lake City, Utah, and one of the leading authorities in the field of breast imaging. He recently led a medical mission to establish the first breast imaging and breast cancer clinic in the African nation of Tanzania.
Monday, September 1, 2008
The first southern gentleman I ever personally met was my Uncle Hight. He and Aunt Dorothy had a ranch just outside Evanston, Wyoming, on the way to the High Uintas. Uncle Hight was a transplant from the Carolinas whose ancestors were all very much on the south of that Mason-Dixon line, and listening to him as a child was the first taste I had of the realities of the Civil War, that there were actually people who'd been on the southern side of it. It was all so very real.
He was the first person to sit me down on a milking stool and teach me to milk a cow, the first to show me baby lambs, the first to put me on the back of a seasoned old mare.
I loved going to their ranch in the summertime, loved Aunt Dorothy's boiled raisin cookies with chocolate chips washed down with fresh milk (okay, the fresh milk took some getting used to), their horses, the interesting things in the ranch house and the barn. I loved all of it. They were radiant and loving as a great aunt and uncle, and he managed to fit into the wilds of Wyoming in spite of being a Carolina boy.
Hight Moore Proffit.
Hight Moore Proffit was not just a rancher, or a Dixie charmer. He was a servant of the people. He served eight years in the Wyoming State Senate and two years in the House of Representatives. His wife, Dorothy Ardell Marsh Proffit, succeeded him in the Senate when he was unable to complete his term due to ill health.
He died January 30, 2002, at the age of 90.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Dave Obey is a son of Wisconsin. Most people don't realize he was actually born in Oklahoma; he's so ingrained in Wisconsin soil, so much a part of Wisconsin's story.
Most people also don't realize that Obey was originally a Republican. He's so ingrained in Democratic soil, so much a part of Democratic history.
Central Wisconsin has claimed Dave as its own for over fifty years, a former realtor who decided to run for office to see if he could do some good in the greater community. From 1963 to 1969, he served admirably in the Wisconsin State Assembly.
In 1969, he was elected to Congress to fill the seat vacated when Melvin Laird was tapped to be Richard Nixon's Secretary of Defense. Only thirty years old at the time, he was the youngest member of Congress then serving. Since then, he has been re-elected eighteen times, and is the longest serving member of either branch of Congress in Wisconsin's history.
David R. Obey.
David R. Obey is, and has been all these years, the face of Wisconsin's 7th District in the United States House of Representatives, a well respected, hard working, straight talking, passionate member of Congress, and current chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He is also the author of "Raising Hell for Justice: The Washington Battles of a Wisconsin Progressive."
When not busy doing good in Washington, he's playing the harmonica. With the Capitol Offenses.
He has been a friend to many in our community for many years, and as a member of the Riordan family, I share in support of his efforts on behalf of those he's lifted throughout the years and express appreciation for the same.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I've long said that Rochester is the great leveler.
When people come to Mayo Clinic in the cornfields of Minnesota for treatment, they come from all corners of the world and all walks of life, kings and presidents, priests and paupers. I recall being in town many years ago when then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Rochester to meet with Jordan's late King Hussein, who was undergoing treatment for cancer at Mayo Clinic at the time. There were banners across the main downtown street, Broadway, welcoming both men to town.
Around that same time, several years ago, my husband and I were in town for routine medical care and staying in a hotel which was hosting several members of the Saudi Royal Family on its top floors, including King Fahd. As only Rochester can do, it brought us face to face, in a way that would not have been likely, or even possible, in most of the rest of the world. My husband and I went into the Concierge Lounge that morning for breakfast, prior to our planned checkout later that morning, and there were only two other diners in the room--King Fahd, and a male attendant. The all too young manager of the hotel was standing over the pair fussing to try to discern what it was that was required. Two female employees from the concierge staff also busily stood at the ready. But no one could understand what it was that His Majesty wanted, and there was clear and present frustration.
I stood up, begged pardon and asked if I might be of assistance, then explained to the hotel manager what it was that His Majesty wanted.
"Sweet milk," I explained.
King Fahd nodded at me in appreciation as I explained to the hotel staff what this was. His companion thanked me most graciously.
Anywhere else, that act of assistance, that encounter, might never have taken place, but in Rochester, we were all children of the Almighty at the mercy of our quest for competent and compassionate medical care, in the cornfields of Minnesota.
King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz al Saud.
I felt a special sadness later when I read of his death. Our paths had crossed, if only briefly, in this life in a simple act of compassion for a fellow traveller on the journey.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Logan, Utah, several years ago when he was showing us family pictures of his childhood.
"And this was the Capp home we built and lived in," he said, pointing to a picture of his family home.
It was phenomenal to me to actually meet someone who'd lived in a Capp pre-built home. Because Marty Capp was a friend of ours.
Flashback to days just after World War II.
Martin Capp was a young man from Wabasha, Minnesota, who decided to build homes. He needed windows for those homes, and contacted a window company in Wausau, Wisconsin, to see if he could get them. The person he ended up talking to initially at the time was my husband's father, Thomas Riordan, of Chicago.
His first request to get windows was unsuccessful.
Some time later, my husband placed a call to Marty Capp. Montgomery Wards had refused a shipment of a carload of windows--did he want them?
Many years later, at Marty Capp's 80th birthday party, eighty people were flown in for a week of festivities in Las Vegas,and at the black tie gala night I heard Marty Capp tell this story, right after comedian Red Buttons entertained us. It was the finest tribute I'd ever heard anyone give my husband. At Marty's high school graduation, he said, he'd been in charge of getting the entertainment, and hired a palm reader. That palm reader apparently told his fortune, and everything that person told him has subsequently come true. Including, as he told it, that an angel would come into his life and change his life forever. "That angel was Larry Riordan."
That transaction started a business relationship that co-existed as a deep and powerful friendship lasting well over fifty years. Marty was my husband's best customer, and my husband helped Marty when he was first getting his start in the construction business. It is a mutual admiration society that runs silent and deep.
Marty became one of the most successful builders of pre-built homes, Capp Homes, and later Martin Homes, and went on to build a number of office buildings and hotels in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Several years ago, he bought a winter home in Las Vegas, where he also continues to do business as a builder and developer, well into his nineties.
He owns two hotels in Minneapolis currently, including The Millennium Hotel on Nicolet, the former Capp Towers Hotel. Their philanthropic efforts in Minnesota and elsewhere are well known and have benefited many.
I've had some great times with Marty and his lovely wife Esther. Some of them I can't repeat (something about Jaguars heading for the Mexican border, and professional women in Vegas tapping the wrong man's shoulder comes to mind, but it's a blur). Whether we've seen them in the Twin Cities, or in Vegas, at weddings, bar mitzvahs, or in their kitchen, we've had enormous fun, and their friendship is treasured. They were among those most faithful, most salt of the earth, during our protracted ordeal at Mayo Clinic, and I will forever be indebted to them for that.
So if you pass a building in the Twin Cities that was built by Marty Capp, raise a glass to him for me. And remember, that behind every successful man, there is a woman as incredible as Esther Capp.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It seems appropriate to continue a Scandinavian theme, which leads me to Bettye Olson, Swedish-German by heritage, Norwegian by marriage, and very much a Minnesotan.
Bettye and Howard Olson have been friends with my husband for decades, and I was fortunate to inherit them when we married. No truer friends exist anywhere. Howard was best man at our wedding. They were steadfast in support of us during Larry's long and difficult hospitalization at Mayo Clinic, and made the journey down from St. Paul to Rochester on numerous occasions to be present personally.
I am fortunate to know Bettye, one of Minnesota's, and indeed the United States', premier watercolorists.
Bettye Olson is a Minnesota treasure. Her vision is singular and translates with seeming effortlessness to canvas. Part Emily Carr, part Georgia O'Keefe, Bettye sees the world, whether it's running water, a meadow, mountains, flowers, or rocks, and puts her own inimitable flourish of color on it for our enjoyment. In her career spanning over six decades, she has travelled the world, from Santa Fe to Sitka, Norway to New Mexico, bringing that vision to others.
I am blessed to have a number of Bettye Olson's paintings on the walls of my homes, some of which were already there when I married my husband, and others I've acquired since. But Bettye's paintings grace far greater venues, including major corporations in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest, and a number of universities.
Bettye has had numerous shows and exhibitions worldwide and been active as both an artist and an educator, including as Director of the College of the Third Age at Augsburg, a position she held recently for several years. In late 2006 St. Catherine's College hung her show, "Persistence of Vision: Bettye Olson's Work in Retrospect."
I think of Mark Sandberg in soundbites.
What did Theodora's father do for a living?
Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc'd
O do not ask "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
When I met him, Mark Sandberg was a mild-mannered prodigy freshman at BYU who'd come in with off-the-charts test scores. We both haunted the fifth floor of the library and shared a common major at the time, Humanities, and had several classes together. He'd come from St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the three children then at BYU of well known educator, scholar and author Karl Sandberg of St. Paul's Macalester College. Together we were part of a motley assemblage of ragtag braniacs and liberals known as the "Fifth Floor Study Group," a core part of which came from the Twin Cities. I frequently had lunch with Mark, his brother Dave, and other Minnesotans at the Cougareat, and listened to them argue which was side of the river was superior, Minneapolis or Saint Paul, and whether or not Hardees truly had the best hamburgers. Together we studied existentialism, and art history, and pondered the great mysteries of the universe.
Like what Theodora's father did for a living.
Those were great times, with a million embedded memories. Kant and Hegel and Sartre and Camus and Art Bassett and James Faulconer and International Cinema and Cougareat.
I think I got pulled over once coming back from seeing Young Frankenstein at a drive-in movie theater in Springville, with Mark and his sister Stephanie in the car. We'd been laughing hard, and the car was weaving and bobbing in the pouring rain. What had I been drinking? the officer asked when he pulled me over to the side of the road and asked me to walk a straight line.
"Milk," I replied.
Mark Bennion Sandberg.
Mark went off to Norway on a mission and wrote back interesting tales of the midnight sun, and townspeople coming out after a long dark winter to chant, "Sola, sola."
Mark is now professor of Scandianavian Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and acknowledged expert in Scandinavian film studies. He is the author of Living Pictures, Missing Persons: Mannequins, Museums and Modernity, published by Princeton Press in 2003.
Judy Collins saved my life in high school. Of course, she didn't learn that until many years later.
When I finally met Judy Collins face-to-face, she looked a lot like this, with lots of miles both behind her and ahead, and wearing the bloom of a newlywed bride.
In high school, I survived by playing her albums, endlessly. Colors of the Day, Whales and Nightingales, The Best of, Judith. Sure, I listened to Joni Mitchell, too. And Carly Simon. But I was immersed in the life and music and words and wildflowers and mountains and dreams of Judy Collins, whether singing Leonard Cohen's lyrical magic or her own original semi-autobiographical folksongs. I can still sit down to a piano and play "My Father" from memory.
Carol Crockett and I used to sing "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" as a duet in high school, on long hours sitting in the back of a bus on school trips, or in the band room during choir practice. We always vowed we'd sing it at each other's weddings, wearing long gauzy dresses blowing in the breeze and flowers tucked in long flowing hair. We didn't.
But many years later, I was sitting in a hotel ballroom in central Wisconsin sharing wedding pictures with Judy Collins. And I presented her with my very well worn copy of her Judy Collins Songbook, dogeared and well travelled and practically memorized, still with wildflowers and notes falling out of the pages, for her to sign. She was visibly moved that I'd hung onto it all those years, and that it had meant that much to me. She'd come as the guest of Dave Obey, our local congressman who's a family friend, to speak about political issues. She signed my book.
I told her Carol Crockett had signed the back of her high school picture to me, "Judy Forever."
Never did I imagine that when we'd finally meet, it would be like a couple of schoolgirls sharing wedding pictures.
But it was.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Joyce McKinney's name is rarely associated with anything tasteful anymore, barely uttered and difficult to find on Internet searches without turning up sordid tales of infamy, but when I first met her in 1973 I was a freshman in college, and she hung out with my roommate at the time.
Both of them were Osmond groupies. My roommate Karen was younger of the two, by four or five years, and would hang around Joyce, a former beauty queen with a southern accent and bleach-blonde hair, like an older sister. Both would hoof several hours to Vegas most weekends just to see the Osmond Brothers perform.
Joyce had a thing for the oldest of the performing Osmond Brothers, Alan, and then subsequently his younger brother, Wayne, which became relatively well known and teetered on stalking. My roommate Karen, from southern California, was self confessed as someone who'd converted to the LDS Church predominantly because of her devotion to the Osmonds (a well documented byproduct of the Osmond mania of the early seventies). She played their albums incessantly in our dorm room and regaled us with details of her trips to Vegas and encounters with the Osmond clan.
There was something more of fanatacism than fan in both of them, but Joyce particularly, and possibly even at least one screw, if not more, somewhat loose. But never would we have dreamt that sometime later, Joyce would become a household name in the tabloid press, when she kidnapped an LDS missionary in England and forced him into sexual bondage.
I remember well when the story surfaced in the late 1970's in Provo, although a continent away. I was administrative assistant to Dr. Marion J. Bentley at the time, and he remembered casting her in performances in the Theater Department. We all shook a collective head and clucked a collective cluck. Cluck.
Joyce McKinney went from beauty queen to Osmond chaser to missionary chaser to sleaze queen. Rarely is mention found of her anymore without a reference to something entirely distasteful in obscure press, and rarely can a picture be found of her anymore worth reposting.
When I knew her she was slightly more interesting. Never did we dream she'd be infamous.
Just this past week, a news story hit the media about cloned puppies, and their owner, Bernann McKinney.
As it happens, "Bernann" and "Joyce" are one and the same.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
My path crossed Houston Allred's on the high seas, in a much entangled tale of transatlantic crossings, tea concerts, and fateful encounters with destiny.
Somewhere between New York and London I first heard him perform Jerome Kern songs to a room full of mostly wide eyed fading ingenues, older women on board in search of adventure and romance, or any combination of the above, and perfectly content to take it served up in piano keys and cabaret crooning. Not long after, the ship's entertainer was joining our dinner table as the guest of my travelling companion, and our eight-day passage read like a well cliched script of a 70's TV show.
I left my past on one shore and met my future on another. But in between there was caviar and champagne, laughter and dancing. There was even a birthday party, my 36th. Houston Allred was there.
We docked in Southampton. I went off to Surrey with friends. My travelling companion went off to London to meet my future husband. Houston Allred later came to our little community back home to perform a series of dinner concerts at the local social club.
Sam Houston Allred.
Named for the first president of the Texas Republic, the person born as Sam Houston Allred in 1937 began auspiciously enough, born in the Sam Houston bedroom of the Executive Mansion in Austin, Texas, where his father was serving his second term as governor. His first magazine spread was at the age of three days, gazing up at First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt from the arms of his mother on the pages of Life.
After a lifelong career as an entertainer, with featured roles on Broadway, in clubs and cabarets, and on cruise ships around the world, Houston can now be found most of the time in the sparkling city by the bay, where he is a popular entertainer in San Francisco nightclubs and cabarets.
The Bobby Shew I knew in the 1970's looked a lot more like this, young, trim, vibrant, and a very talented horn player who went around the country doing workshops for student musicians. I first met him in Rock Springs, Wyoming, the year after I graduated from high school when I accompanied a group from my alma mater to meet him and learn from him.
I was mostly impressed by his lifestyle choices at the time, choosing to give up sugar and red meat, well ahead of the curve on both.
As talented as he was as a musician, he was an effervescent dinner companion, a fascinating student and observer of life and human nature.
We corresponded for a time, then some years later I found myself in a late-night beachfront nightclub in Malibu, California, with a friend, where Bobby Shew and some other musicians were performing. I had the waiter send him a drink, with a note I'd written on a cocktail napkin: "Kathy Lawrence is sitting in the audience and is sending you this drink."
He interrupted his set with a spontaneous, "Kathy, where the hell ARE you???" and crossed the smoke-and-jazz filled room to join our table for conversation.
It was the last time I saw him in person, but I've followed his career, and his music, and been appreciative than our paths crossed. I still think of him every time I contemplate giving up sugar or going vegetarian, or whenever I reflect on "The Hindu Yogi Science of Breath."
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Marilyn will laugh that I am including her in a blog on famous people, but she seems to have made her mark.
I remember, as though it were yesterday, growing up with Marilyn. From elementary school through high school graduation, she was a classmate and good friend. I especially remember convincing her to take up playing the flute, something I began in fifth grade with only moderate success. I wanted a friend of mine to also play, so I talked her into learning the instrument, never knowing how well she'd do with it, or how far she'd go in music.
Marilyn thrived on the flute. Literally. She went straight to first chair, while I languished in mediocrity, and then moved on to bassoon my sophomore year of high school, and later tympani. We were together in concert band, stage band, marching band, and choir, all the way through high school graduation. Marilyn did well in solo flute competition and was in the Wyoming All State Band.
I remember early junior high days when we'd listen to whatever latest Monkees album over and over, memorizing all the songs. Some weekends I'd sleep over at the trailer in the oil company subdivision where she lived with her parents. We had some great times.
I lost track of Marilyn for an extended period after high school. We went off in different directions, both of us to college. She declared a major in music, and I studied design and philosophy. Fortunately, she took the musical experiences we had growing up in Big Piney and made a difference in the lives of others with that.
Marilyn is now the band director at Tooele High School in Tooele, Utah, a position she has held for sixteen years, leading the concert, jazz and marching bands. She is beloved by her students and I have no doubt is an outstanding educator and mentor to them.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Tim Flaherty is a grandfather to four of my grandchildren, and the namesake to one of them, Timothy Thomas Flaherty. He and his wife have raised a family in Neenah, Wisconsin, while he has been engaged in a successful practice as a radiologist in the Fox Valley area for several decades. In the summertime they enjoy time at their cottage on the lake in northern Wisconsin.
But Tim is better known nationally as a former trustee, and recent Board Chair, of the American Medical Association (AMA) from 2001-2002.
Timothy Thomas Flaherty.
The first time I ever heard the name "Matthew Tueller," his sister, my college roommate at the time, and I were at the local post office to mail some books to him in Spain, where he was then serving as an LDS missionary. The conversation as I recall it was along the lines of "Where have all the good men gone?" and Anna mentioned that her brother was really something extraordinary.
I had the great pleasure of meeting and becoming acquainted with Matt Tueller (center, photo above) after he returned to resume his studies at BYU, along with several of his siblings (Jan, Anna, Marie and Diane particularly) from a sufficiently large family of ten children that had been raised around the globe, from Northern Africa to Europe to Latin America, as their father had served in the diplomatic service for the U.S. State Department. I really admired their mother. I'll never forget what she told me once, and I've repeated it often to others. She said that wherever she went with her family, even though she knew it was ultimately temporary, she put down roots and made a home. I know that served all of them well.
Matt had some Arabic from living in Morocco, accompanied by good tales and clever folding leather coin purses. He also possessed a good heart and a very human soul, along with the keen intelligence and joie d'vivre shared with his siblings. He was absolutely as his sister had described him, "one of the good ones." There was no doubt he had a big life ahead of him.
The last time I clearly remember seeing Matt we were sitting in a car in the rain in a parking lot in Provo, Utah.
Matthew Tueller finished his degree in International Relations at Brigham Young University and went on to Harvard, and subsequently followed his father's footsteps into the U.S. State Department, where he has in recent years had a number of postings in the Middle East, including Political Counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia and Charge d'Affaires/Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, Political Counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and Deputy Chief of Mission, Cairo.
He is currently U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, a position he has held since September 2011.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I did not know the rural Wisconsin farm boy, youngest of six children, who entered the seminary, went off to Rome, and was ordained a priest by the late Pope John Paul II.
I met the priest who'd been in Rome as a canon lawyer and became a bishop, only to return to serve the people of his rural homeland in Wisconsin, the descendants of European immigrants in the American heartland along the banks of the Mississippi.
My husband had known Bishop Burke's three predecessors well, Bishops Treacy, Frekking and Paul. We had been given a special blessing by Bishop Paul shortly after our marriage prior to departing on our honeymoon. And my husband had known "Father Burke" prior to his departure to Rome as a member of the Diocese of La Crosse.
But I came to know him shortly after our marriage, meeting him for the first time when we attended an anniversary celebration for Marriage Encounter in Marathon, Wisconsin. I was struck then by his intelligence and the strength of his spirit, and came to know over the subsequent years the great depths of his holiness. Whether vacationing on the beach in Sanibel Island or ministering to his flock in central Wisconsin, he was always that rarest of things, a truly holy man.
It was always clear that God had great things in mind for this servant shepherd. And the Mother of God entrusted him with the great task of building a shrine to bring the faithful to her Son.
Divine providence took him in 2004 from the banks of the Mississippi in Wisconsin to the the banks of the Mississippi in Missouri, when he became Archbishop of Saint Louis, and now takes him again back to Rome, as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the chief judge of the highest canonical court of the Roman Catholic Church and Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis.
On November 20, 2010, he was elevated to the position of cardinal in the Holy Roman Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.
He will always be to us a treasured friend, someone tapped on the shoulder by the divine, servant of God and His people, devoted son to a loving mother, a leader, a visionary, an example.
Secundum cor tuum.
Friday, July 25, 2008
At the end of my freshman year of college at BYU, I injured my left knee in a fencing tournament. That single misstep dictated the next several months of my life, through consequential knee surgery in Salt Lake City, and subsequent recuperation over the summer months at home in Wyoming. Good friends rallied around me and helped keep my spirits high with trips to Jackson Hole and Pinedale, helicopter rides and fine dining, dances, music, and distraction.
When it came time to return to Utah in the fall of 1974, one of those friends, a classmate of mine from high school, decided to drive down to Provo with me, and I took her, en route, on a late August drive up Provo Canyon to Sundance. John Denver was playing on the car stereo, "Rocky Mountain High." Water was rolling swiftly downstream over boulders while the sun, truly, danced through the aspens as we wound up the scenic drive to the place that had become a special place of refuge for me from the intensity of university life, a place where one could hear the air, and the mountain. Timpanogos.
Pam was enchanted. The lure of the setting was so complete, she decided to move to Provo, to work and possibly go to school, instead of staying home working in the oil fields or cattle ranches of Wyoming.
Fall came, the aspens turned their brilliant gold, and the first snow fell.
We went up to Sundance to apply for work.
Shortly thereafter, around the Christmas holidays, I received a post-interview call from Sundance. The good news was, they were offering me the job. The bad news was, the offer was for me, and not for my friend, Pam.
By that time, I'd decided to return to school, so I turned down the offer and asked them to offer the position to Pam, which she happily accepted.
The job turned out to be governess to the children of Bob and Lola Redford.
Pam became an extended accessory in the Redford household in the mountains at Sundance, doing all sorts of odd jobs, including picking up people like Paul Newman at the airport in Salt Lake City when he'd fly into town, helping with the household, and running the then school age children of Bob and Lola Redford here and there.
I went back to school. At that point two roads truly diverged. Pam worked for Redfords for an extended time, then left, living up the canyon. I continued with my studies.
Alone, this would be an interesting story.
But the world, as usual, shrinks to fit.
Another friend of mine also knew the Redfords. Brett Parkinson had family connections, an older brother who'd met Lola in New Orleans when he was a medical resident at Tulane. In addition to being a local dermatologist in Provo, Rick Parkinson occasionally taught creative writing classes in the English department at BYU. One semester I sat in from time to time, and there, among the students, was a slightly older very attractive woman who clearly had a gift for writing. The students only knew her as "Lola," and when she read her essay to the class on someone she knew, "Bob" was to them, just her husband.
They didn't know "Bob" was Robert Redford.
Lola was a striking figure, elegant in simple denim, who carried fringed leather beaded purses, drove a Porsche, fast, and liked to go antiquing.
I attended the Women's Conference at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City in 1977, where, amid controversy over potential passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, nearly 14,000 people converged at the culmination of the International Women's Year. One of the featured speakers was Lola Redford. Brett, unable to be there, had asked me to record her speech for him. As she spoke of her years as a young mother married to a struggling actor in New York, newly involved in consumer issues (she founded CAN, Consumer Action Now, in 1970) I had an epiphany.
This was not "Robert Redford's wife."
He was Lola Redford's husband. She was a force of nature.
Lola Van Wagenen.
Lola's own path subsequently diverged, and Lola Van Wagenen went back to school, got her doctorate in American history from New York University, and became founding director of CLIO Visualizing History. She produced the documentary Miss America: A Documentary Film for the PBS series, The American Experience, and has served on a number of national boards, continuing an over thirty year involvement with educational and consumer action issues that have always been her passion.
Diane Stirland Matthews (front row above, second from right) became a part of our family when she married my uncle, Elmo Matthews. Together they raised a family of six children in Glendale and Mesa, Arizona, until his untimely death from a heart attack in 1983. Elmo had been left alone at home that day to care for the youngest of their children, Blake, and Diane's life was immediately turned upside down as a result. She successfully raised a beautiful, cohesive family of four girls and two boys to adulthood in the face of the challenges of being an unexpected single parent.
Though I was a young girl, I remember when Elmo first brought Diane home to meet his parents and the rest of the family at the motel my grandparents owned in Evanston, Wyoming. Elmo had been in the military, served an LDS mission to France, and studied both at BYU in Provo, Utah, and abroad in England at Oxford before settling down to marry, and Diane was the woman who eventually won his heart, and made his home.
Diane has always been, from first introduction to the present, elegant, gracious, poised, articulate, and above all, a good mother.
In 1998, it became clear others thought so, too. Diane was recognized for those qualities when she was honored with the title of 1998 National Mother of the Year by American Mothers, Inc.
Diane Stirland Matthews.
At the back of my husband's neck, there is a scar he got from being thrown off a wooden raft on the Tippecanoe River in Indiana as a young boy.
The culprit who had thrown the young boy from the wooden raft? A young seminarian named Bill McManus, who was visiting the Riordan cottage in Indiana with his close friend, my husband's older brother, Tom Riordan.
Some sixty years later, I was sitting in a crowded church in a northern suburb of Chicago as that young seminarian was being laid to rest. Over fifty U.S. Catholic bishops were in attendance, as was the mayor of the city of Chicago. As much as funerals can be, it was a glorious occasion, white flowers everywhere, celestial choirs, and I'm sure, the deceased himself very much present. As would be typical for the impish Bill McManus, but not for a priest's funeral, a collection was taken--to support his favorite personal cause, helping young single mothers. Bishops from Alaska to Florida were asked to empty their pockets, generously, at what was otherwise a solemn occasion.
I'll never forget the first time I met Bill McManus, at a hotel in La Crosse, Wisconsin, while attending a jubilee celebration for then La Crosse Bishop John J. Paul. After joining him and Bishop Timothy Lyne of Chicago for dinner and conversation, he paid me the highest compliment I've ever received as a married woman.
"Kathy," he said, "meeting you makes me wish the Pope would change his mind about retired Catholic bishops being able to be married."
It was high praise indeed from someone who had chosen to give his life in the service of God and his fellow man.
Bishop William E. McManus.
Bishop William E. McManus went on to graduate from seminary and was ordained a priest, later to become Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and Bishop of South Bend, Indiana, a position he held from 1976 to 1985. A close friend of well known sociologist and author Father Andrew Greeley, together they authored a study on Catholic giving.
Bruce Bastian was, while I was in college, the enormously popular conductor of the BYU Cougar Band, Brigham Young University's award winning marching band. Charismatic, single, and very talented, band members were happy to have him at the helm.
For a time I dated one of his roommates, and at various times I had more than one friend in the Cougar Band, so I would occasionally attend rehearsals.
Amid some sort of contract dispute, Bruce's tenure as a music major/instructor leading the Cougar Band finally ended, but a software program he developed while trying to choreograph band performances launched him into a whole new world, and life.
With co-founder Alan Ashton, Bruce created WordPerfect in 1978, and is now a billionaire philanthropist and social activist.
The last time I saw Jocelyn Matsuo, she was a toddler in arms, the firstborn child of the neurologist I was working for at the University of Utah at the time, Fred (Fumisuke) Matsuo and his wife, cardiologist Ruth Ann Smith. I probably have a photo somewhere of me holding her at their then beautiful new home up in Summit Park outside Salt Lake City.
But that was over twenty-five years ago. Jocelyn was a beautiful child.
In March of 1999, a news item caught my attention. A Utah teenager, on a school trip to Costa Rica, had amazingly survived an attack by over 250 killer bees. The fifteen-year-old hiker who had stumbled upon the next of Africanized bees and lived to tell the tale?
Her life spared from the bees' potentially fatal wrath, Jocelyn Matsuo is now a professional actor, performance artist and mime.
A decade ago, my husband was preparing to take me on a surprise trip to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary, both of which fall at the end of April. The secretive details of this mystery trip were held closely to my husband's vest as we anticipated what promised to be a wonderful journey regardless. Other than the travel agent helping with the arrangements, no one knew where we were going.
I had my suspicions, but I kept them to myself.
The Sunday before our departure, we were invited to join some good friends of ours for lunch. Our hostess had invited her cousin to join us.
Like me, our hostess, and her husband, long time friends of my husband from college days, had no idea where we were going on our upcoming trip, and she delighted in the prospect of guessing. Her cousin was invited simply because he happened to be "in town," and my husband, a former industrialist, had known him for many years.
That cousin was Pat Lucey.
Patrick J. Lucey.
Patrick Joseph Lucey was Democratic governor of the great state of Wisconsin from 1971-1977, when my husband knew him best, working with him in industry. In 1977, then President Jimmy Carter appointed Pat Lucey to become Ambassador to Mexico, a position he held until 1979. In 1980, he was tapped as a vice presidential candidate by Independent candidate John Anderson.
We had a delightful brunch, and spent much of it talking about his time as Ambassador to Mexico, and about Mexico City specifically, a city I had never seen, and the best restaurants there, sights to see and things to do.
Our trip a few days later? You guessed it. And the coincidence was too remarkable for words, so so did I.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
For most of my father's adult life, he worked for a small independent oil and gas company in southwestern Wyoming which was owned by Utahns J. Tracey Wootton, an industrialist and investor who had initially made his mark on local energy in the 1920's with his involvement in coal production, and O. Devere Wootton, a well known Utah county attorney who also served as mayor of American Fork. Though a state away from us, we were aware of the Woottons and their presence in our lives.
When I graduated from high school, I was shown a great kindness by Devere's wife, Nora Prows Wootton, who sent me a string of pearls accompanied by a lovely handwritten note. Sadly, she passed away last year before I had the opportunity to fully tell her how much that gesture meant to me. The last time I recall seeing her she and Devere were passing through Big Piney on their way to Jackson, pulling a fully outfitted trailer behind them (so she wouldn't have to worry about what she thought might be dubious accommodation availability in Jackson hole). It was the first time I'd ever seen a trailer with toilet and shower facilities, and she was happy to give us a tour.
Eventually, Devere's son, Noall, came to work with him at the firm known as Wootton and Wootton in American Fork. My father was fond of saying, "If anyone ever comes after you, tell them you'll just call your personal attorneys--Wootton and Wootton."
Fortunately, that was never necessary. But it made a brave bluff.
Noall T. Wootton.
But Noall Wootton didn't make his mark on the world simply as the son of my father's employer, or even as a small town lawyer.
Noall Wootton made his mark by being the county attorney who prosecuted Gary Mark Gilmore in a landmark case which ended in the first execution after reinstatement of the death penalty. Gilmore was executed by firing squad in January 1977; his story was made famous in Norman Mailer's acclaimed book, The Executioner's Song.
Noall Thurber Wootton died April 27, 2006, at the age of 65 of cancer.
I used to spend quite a bit of time at my Grandma Elsie's house in Evanston, Wyoming, when I was little. "Grandma" Elsie was actually my great-grandmother, Elsie Gulliver, who'd converted to the LDS Church in England as a young woman and left, as she described it, "the green lanes of England for the sagebrush of Wyoming." She married my great-grandfather, Roland Matthews, another convert from England, after both had come to this country by way of Salt Lake City, and eventually they made their home in southwestern Wyoming, where Grandpa Roland was a barber.
Grandpa Roland was long gone before I was born, so I never knew him. But I loved my time at Grandma Elsie's little version of an English cottage in Evanston, complete with its own English cottage garden outside. I loved her tales of the Royal Family, her British mannerisms and traditions, her little porcelain bric-a-brac, her cakes, and her love of all things English.
Of all the treasures I remember being in her home as a young girl, I especially remember how she kept a photograph of her youngest son, her baby, Robert, on her dresser, alongside a photograph of his bride, Shirley. She spoke of him frequently and with special tenderness. She'd raised a large family, seven boys and just one girl. My grandfather, Victor, was the oldest of this brood, and Robert, well, Robert was the caboose. She loved him dearly.
So when I think of my uncle Bob, it's framed in the special tenderness of the eyes of his mother, eyes that eventually were clouded over and unable to see clearly except through the heart.
"Uncle Bob" went on to greater things than just his sphere in Evanston, finishing his studies and entering the LDS Church Educational System. Eventually he became Dean of the College of Religion at BYU. Probably his most significant achievement and most noted distinction, however, is in being the first person from the LDS Church that the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS) ever allowed to view or handle the original manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (or "Inspired Version," as it has been alternately known), and he was instrumental in bringing the fruits of his efforts back to the LDS Church. He has been a popular educator for many years, in Seminaries and Institutes, and as a college professor. He is a popular speaker at devotionals, firesides and BYU Campus Education Week programs, and a highly respected author and scholar, particularly on the New Testament, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and the Joseph Smith Translation. When the LDS Church decided to compile an Encyclopedia of Mormonism, he was central to that effort.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday last year, several of his collegues honored him with the publication of a collection of essays in his honor, A Witness for the Restoration: Essays in Honor of Robert J. Matthews.
During my own time at BYU, I took both semesters of New Testament from him, and came to appreciate him not only as an uncle but as a New Testament scholar, and a gifted teacher with a wry smile, a twinkling eye, and an ever present sense of humor. He is well loved for a reason. I will always treasure the unique way he autographs books--with a weather report, "Partly cloudy today, some sun. Looks like it might rain. RJM"
Robert J. Matthews.
Susan Anne Cook Northway was my vocal music teacher in high school. She arrived the first day of my freshman year at Big Piney High School, along with her husband, Ernie Northway, who taught instrumental music, band and stageband.
Susan Cook Northway.
In addition to leading the concert choir, Susan Northway taught art, and had a great talent for it. She had a sister who was a professional artist, and Susan's own talents in that department were apparent. As I did with her husband, I learned many things from Susan Northway, and particularly honed my skills in music appreciation and listening. When I wasn't singing in the high school choir, groups or solos, I was accompanying them. I still have a little statuette on my piano in Wisconsin that says "Frederick Chopin Piano Award," an award she dubiously bestowed upon me in high school in the absence of any great talent on that score. My piano skills were serviceable, nothing more, but I enjoyed my time at a keyboard, as I enjoyed singing.
I remember well the day she said to me that I was clearly a generalist and not a specialist, sort of good at a number of things but not particularly excelling in any of them. It was true my interests were broad and the energy and tunnel vision required to single in on one of them was lacking. But there are many things if I could go back and repeat those years in high school now I would do differently with the three decades of hindsight.
I got to know Susan Northway outside the classroom particularly when she had her first child, and I babysat for them briefly after my high school graduation. They lived in the "teacherages" then, school district supplied housing across from the high school, and I still remember her list of phone numbers for Poison Control near the telephone, sitting on her front stoop, and visiting with her in her livingroom as she explained to me about liturgical calendars. (Susan and Ernie had come to Big Piney as Unitarians from Iowa, not particularly religious that I could detect, but as time progressed she seemed increasingly involved with the local Episcopal Church and its trappings, and my only introduction to liturgy in that sense was being included with other high school choir members in participation in its midnight service on Christmas Eve.)
I also remember, the summer after my freshman year of college, being asked by her to model for a drawing class that was doing live modeling near Pinedale. I was supposed to wear a leotard, I was told, so I showed up in the only leotard I had--a black one, only to be told later that it should have been flesh colored. If there were flesh colored leotards to be had in all the state of Wyoming at the time, it would be news to me. In any case, my picture was sketched by several there, and my modesty was intact.
Susan and Ernie Northway later moved to Salt Lake City, where they taught in the local schools and raised a family.
She is now Director of the Office of Religious Education for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, after several years of teaching religion in two local Catholic high schools.
My first introduction to liturgical music came at the hands of Susan Northway in high school choir, although I didn't realize or fully appreciate it at the time, a Unitarian from Iowa in her late 20's with long red hair, braces, short skirts and fishnet stockings who clearly had an aptitude for the divine, as I did, beyond the great appeal of smells and bells.
For more than a half century, Tom and Blanche Maney were two of my husband's closest friends in our community in Wisconsin. So when I married him, his friends became mine, and no friends were more cherished than Blanche and Tom.
I first met their son, Pat Maney, and his wife Elaine, when they were living in New Orleans where he was at the time a professor in the history department at Tulane University. Tom and Blanche wintered in New Orleans, and we'd drive through from Wisconsin on our roundabout route to Florida. My husband, and the Maneys, were pleasantly surprised on our first visit there together that I already knew the Crescent City well, and could find my way easily from the French Quarter and Canal Street to the Garden District, following my nose to Commander's Palace and even a terrific local florist.
Given the surroundings, we shared some remarkable meals with Pat and Elaine, including one where I remember he dined on veal sweetbreads (something out of the range of my own generally wide palate), corn-fried oysters at Commander's Palace, and a particularly memorable dining experience at the Grill Room of the Windsor Court, prepared by Chef Kevin Graham, which we finished with one of the most splendid desserts ever--a chocolate box filled with seemingly endless tiny scoops of brightly colored fruit sorbets, which we passed around our large round table in turn until it was completely devoured.
So my thoughts of Pat are frequently turned from history, which is his area of particular expertise, to dining. He is one of the few people I know personally who loves whole garlic.
Pat and Elaine moved on from New Orleans before Katrina's wrath, relocating in Columbia, South Carolina, where he took a position as professor and Chair of the History Department at the University of South Carolina, a position he had attained at Tulane prior to his departure. He held the chairmanship of the History Department in South Carolina until the summer of 2007.
He has served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston College, and is a Professor of History at Boston College.
Patrick J. Maney.
Dr. Patrick J. Maney is respected not only as an educator but also as a scholar and author, particularly for his books on Bob La Follette ("Young Bob" La Follette: A Biography of Robert M. La Follette, Jr. 1895-1953) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (The Roosevelt Presence: The Life and Legacy of FDR). He is currently researching a book on the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Jeri Johnson was an English major from Meadview, Arizona, when I met her in the Honors Program at BYU. She went on to teach Honors Colloquium for a year while waiting to go on to graduate school, and also did a year at BYU Law School, and a summer as a law clerk for Mountain Fuel Corporation in Salt Lake City, while I knew her. Her ultimate goal was to win the Rhodes Scholarship and go on to Oxford.
As part of the Rhodes selection process, she met well known Utah industrialist, philosopher, author and philanthropist Obert C. Tanner (then founder and president of the O.C. Tanner jewelry company headquartered in Utah, and author of the well known LDS book "Christ's Ideals for Living"), who offered to sponsor her first year at Oxford should she become unsuccessful in her quest for the Rhodes Scholarship. As the Rhodes eluded her, she went on to Oxford anyway with O. C. Tanner's assistance, and because of her, I made my first ever trip to England in December of 1979, a few months after my father's untimely death that summer to malignant melanoma.
I remember being colder than at any time before or since in my entire life (no small thing for a girl from "The Icebox of the Nation"), sitting up at night in the house in Hugh College at Oxford, running a bathtub full of hot water to try to stay warm, putting coins in the electric meters, discovering the Bodleian Library, the Ashmolean Museum, wine bars, bookstores, London, Surrey, and most importantly, Christmas at 42 Rectory Lane and the gracious hospitality of Reg and Min Oram, angels who became lifelong friends and hosted my husband and I in their home for two weeks of our honeymoon. There was the concert in Croydon, bells and carols on Christmas Eve at St. Mary's of Beddington, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Jeri always rather struck me as Liza Minelli's incarnation of Sally Bowles in "Cabaret," perhaps because they had the same haircut and some of the same mannerisms, or perhaps because our circles first overlapped at a time when several of us, including Anna Tueller and Alison Craig, went out to see the film version of "Cabaret" together, raising my consciousness at least one notch at the time.
I remember meeting her grandmother in her little apartment in Salt Lake City and watching Jeopardy, going to the BYU Law Library in the evenings to help with legal research for Mountain Fuel, and an ill fated cross country trip to deliver a car to one of her roommates. Somewhere mixed in with that was Keats, Simone de Beauvoir, and A Room of One's Own.
Clearly Oxford agreed with Jeri. Some years back, I noticed she was editing the works of James Joyce for Oxford University Press.
Earlier this spring, there was something of a rumble in the press about J. K. Rowling's venture into a New York City courtroom to take on someone who was undertaking the unwelcome publication of a Harry Potter lexicon. This received widespread coverage in the national and world press, but a particular article in The New York Times caught my eye, "Trial Over Potter Lexicon Ends With an Olive Branch." An expert witness had been called on Rowling's behalf, and details of her testimony spilled onto the page. An expatriate. An Oxford senior tutor (equivalent of academic dean) at Exeter College. And most apparently, a Potter fan.
I will never be able to hear an ABBA song without thinking of Val Holley.
Val and I met through Brett Parkinson, a mutual friend of ours at BYU. They had met two years earlier as missionaries destined for Brazil but serving temporarily in San Diego awaiting visas. The San Diego Brazilians, of whom I eventually met several, were a motley crew indeed.
Val was animated, witty and full of life, always a good time, particularly in the back of cars belting out tunes from ABBA or Saturday's Warrior. Think "Bohemian Rhapsody" in Wayne's World. Plus one.
"Knowing me, knowing you,
Yes, Val, to this day I can still see you and Brett en route to Diana Sather's wedding reception in Evanston, Wyoming, nodding your head to that music. When I go to see "Mamma Mia" at its debut next week, I will hear you beside me.
Val went on to law school, became a legislative and reference librarian in Washington, D.C., and is now best known as the current definitive author on James Dean (James Dean, The Biography). He is also the author of Mike Connolly: The Manly Art of Hollywood Gossip.
I met Robert Loosle in the late 1970's when I was working at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. He and his brother, Ronald, were Spanish foreign language testers who had been trained to administer Foreign Service Institute-style language tests, and other tests on discussion teaching proficiency, to new missionaries who were learning the language before departing for Spanish-speaking missions.
Robert and Ronald had been raised speaking both Spanish and English, and both had lived abroad in Spanish-speaking countries. Both were extremely polite, well mannered and attractive, generous in spirit and light in heart. I worked with them at a time my father was undergoing surgery and treatment for cancer, and both graciously went to the local hospital to donate blood on his behalf.
When my father died, both came to the viewing held at a Utah County funeral home, and the graveside services in Salem, Utah, along with other friends and co-workers from the MTC. They were a comforting presence.
Robert is now legal attache for the FBI in Mexico City, having most recently served as head of the crime division of the Los Angeles Bureau of the FBI. Prior to that, he served the FBI in Las Vegas, Houston, Jacksonville, El Salvador, San Salvador, and at FBI Headquarters.