22 June 2011

Legacy Makers



Few people made me feel more welcome when I moved to River City 15 years ago than a couple of older gentlemen and their wives. Both were civic leaders I had the great pleasure of working with over the years, and had the unfortunate opportunity to say goodbye to both in the last week.

News of the first one's passing came as a shocking sting since I had seen him only the week before and he seemed his normal jovial and mischievous self. Just before attending his funeral, word came of the second one's death. River City lost a couple of greats that week. For me, memories were brought back to mind with tidbits of wisdom sprinkled in.

Bill offered sage advice on politics.....but probably the wisdom imparted that stuck with me the most was his comment that he was so thankful he lost his re-election bid for city council 50+ years ago. I find some comfort in that. He also was a collector-of everything it seemed. Finally when his wife said it was time to clean out the basement and closets, our family was the recipient of many of his archives....well, old magazines and other "treasures". He would show up at my office with a box load of things and say "Betty tells me its time to clean out another closet". This happened every few months over the years and I have to say, we did end up with some pretty cool stuff. I think my favorite was when he showed up with a box of old cassette tapes that his son had recorded Prairie Home Companion shows on from the 1980s.

Jim had so many stories to tell....some of them true. And he wasn't from this politically correct generation, as he referred to me as the "little Hindu". I'm about as Anglo-Saxon as they come, but evidently didn't look so to Jim. I called his office once and complained about how the city fixed the flooding in the viaduct in front of our house. He asked me if it was because I didn't have anywhere for my camel to get a drink. I teared up once when I read a speech for my great aunt upon her being awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash. He took me aside and said he was going to have to toughen me up for politics.

Both were remarkable men of another generation, and different sides of the aisles. Both wanted what was best for River City and offered about all the encouragement I could have asked for. I wonder in those 91 and 83 years if there were rough edges that were worn down, if there were times when hope seemed lost, or opportunities to say "forget this". I mentioned to my wife the other day that for the last 15 years I've lived my life for everyone else and it was time to start thinking about us. She said that was contrary to the message on Sunday. Oh sure, bring God into this.....as if He's not on my case already.


Goodbye Bill and Jim. Thanks for making this outsider feel welcome and an integral part of a city that needs to live up to the legacy you left it.

2 comments:

Kestrel said...

may I suggest the you honor Jim and Bill by attending the Encore Music in the park event tomorrow(sunday) at 4pm! Both of these men and their wives support(ed) the work of Encore. The 40's music tomorrow would have set toes tapping on both of these men. It is a free event all they ask is that you bring a non perishable item for the MCNC Pantry

hoosier reborn said...

I think we're going to be there!