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January 23, 2008
February 6, 1944 - January 14, 2008
I doubt that anyone among those who assembled for the memorial service honoring Kimball Lauritzen—an assemblage which overflowed the nave of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral into three adjoining rooms where the proceedings were followed on television—was surprised to be told by Kim’s husband, Bruce, that, with the help of Rev. Tom O’Dell, “Kimball wrote her own funeral.”
There were the appropriate hymns and prayers and scriptural readings but also the significant touches which reflected what had been especially important to Kim in a remarkable life which emphasized friendship, service to others, a deep religious faith and, of course, love of family.
Perhaps the most moving of the departures from what the program described as the Episcopal Church’s “Burial Office” was the message read from the pulpit by Kim’s husband, Bruce, who mixed touches of humor with a moving account of what had made Kimball such a remarkable woman.
Bruce first made clear that, in designing her own funeral, Kim had planned it “not as a day of mourning but as a celebration and a thank you for a beautiful life filled with wonderful friends.” Bruce continued:
“…although Kimball put on a battle royal for over eight years against cancer, this disease never defined Kim. It distracted her, it gave her pain, she lost her hair five times, but it did not stop her.”
Bruce said that if he could characterize Kim in “one overwhelming way,” he would describe her as “a people person. She loved people, they excited her and brought out the best in her…Kimball was a person who not only made friends easily, but she liked to share her new friends with her old friends and ever enlarge the circle.”
During the past eight years, Bruce said, Kimball “had received literally thousands of cards and letters from friends and acquaintances, some of whom she only knew over the telephone as she continued a personal ministry of calling other cancer patients from coast to coast and inspiring them to fight on.
“…I am totally convinced that her passion for exercise, her fiercely positive attitude, her great sense of humor and her constantly thinking of others instead of herself have kept her not just alive, but truly living life for many, many years beyond expectations.”
Bruce’s remarks, I’m sure, brought back personal memories for many in the audience, certainly including me.
Some years ago I was the target of a campaign of rumors (which ended with a perjury conviction and imprisonment of the originator of the lies). As I told Kim in a letter which I had the opportunity to read to her in the final weeks of her illness:
“It was a difficult time for me and although we were buoyed by expressions of support from so many friends…None of the expressions of support meant as much to me as what you said…and I’m especially grateful for your emphatic expression of loving support at a time when it was especially important to me.”
On the lighter side, Bruce told of some incidents which, like so much in her life, illustrated her ability to make friends so easily. For example: On their honeymoon in Denmark 42 years ago, Bruce made a right turn squarely into a lawyer driving to work on his motor scooter. “Clearly my fault. Instead of suing us, Kimball had him so charmed that to this day we still exchange Christmas cards.”
Besides Bruce’s moving remarks, two other impressive features of the Kimball-designed memorial service were, after the final “Amen” of the religious ceremony, a call for the audience to stand and sing “God Bless America.” And on the inside back cover of the program, a picture chosen by Bruce, a picture of a beautiful woman who had led such a beautiful life, taken in her mid-40s. And under that picture, were these words from Kimball:
“Friends are a blessing. Please share your exquisite relationships with those you meet on life’s path. Find love and grace; find selflessness and courage. In times of darkness, call on The Light to appear. It never fails.”
As I searched for a special way that I might end this tribute to Kimball Bowles Lauritzen, wife of a friend who has meant as much to Marian and me as Kimball herself, my mind went back to something I had read many years ago, a piece written for the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette by legendary editor and publisher William Allen White. It was an essay he had written for publication in The Gazette as a tribute to his 16-year-old daughter, Mary, who had died from a head injury after being knocked from her horse by an overhanging tree branch.
The piece, titled simply “Mary White,” told of his daughter’s remarkable capacity for making friends—friends from all walks of life—and the way she quickly gravitated to a leadership role in any cause to which she was attracted by her concern for others. I think Kim Lauritzen would have liked Mary White.
But what led me to recall that column written so many years ago by the editor of the Emporia Gazette was my recollection of the concluding paragraph. Her father wrote that Mary White’s energetic little body had been laid to its rest, then these words which seem to me to be as appropriate to Kimball Lauritzen as to the daughter about whom William Allen White wrote so many years ago:
“But the soul of her, the glowing, gorgeous, fervent soul of her, surely was flaming in eager joy upon some other dawn.”
* * *
It’s bad enough for an Indian tribe to push its way into land ownership in the Omaha metropolitan area far removed from the tribe’s traditional homeland under something called a “trust” agreement so that the tribe can promote—and profit from—the cancer of state-sanctioned gambling.
But it’s inexcusable and should be illegal for a tribe, like the Nebraska Poncas specifically, to offer a health-clinic reason as to why they wanted the five-acre plot in Carter Lake and a year later switch to a gambling-casino reason.
At the time the land was placed in federal trust in 2007, Pottawattamie County and the State of Iowa tried to block the designation over concern it would help the tribe open a casino on Iowa land on the Omaha side of the Missouri River. Tribal leaders said they had no intention of building anything other than a health clinic there and eventually won the federal trust designation.
But the land which the tribe said it was acquiring to build a health clinic is now proposed as the possible site of a gambling casino—promoting not health but rather a social disease, legalized gambling.
And this is the tribe that recently was the object of so much sympathy as the story of heroic Chief Standing Bear and the Ponca’s “trail of tears” was retold in a much-publicized opera and in strenuous but unsuccessful efforts to have the image of Standing Bear represent our state in the 25-cent-piece series of coins being issued in honor of each of the 50 states.
* * *
The Lincoln Journal Star offered this very bad idea in a recent editorial: “Nebraska ought to move to an open primary system that would allow registered independent voters to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries.”
In the first place, this is not a true open primary system. In such a system, a voter, however registered, can go to the polls on election day and ask for a ballot for any political party—Republican, Democrat, Green or whatever. An even worse idea than the Lincoln newspaper’s suggestion that Independents be allowed to ask for a ballot of any party which has a candidate on the ballot on that particular election day.
The Lincoln newspaper reasons that “Independents are the fastest growing political group in the state. They should be allowed to participate in this step of the political process.”
Perhaps the editors of the Lincoln Journal Star are not aware that if an Independent or, for example, a registered Democrat, feels strongly enough about, say, a candidate in the Republican primary, he or she can go to the election commissioner’s office and change party registration to Republican up to 10 days before the election.
If the person involved is interested only in, in effect, telling the Republican Party whom to nominate and is unwilling to become affiliated with the party, he or she can then return to registration as a Democrat or an Independent or whatever after injecting himself or herself into the primary election of a party which he or she is unwilling to join.
Such political hop-scotching shouldn’t be made easier by allowing Independents to vote any ballot they want on election day without changing their registration.
Do those who advocate allowing Independents to inject themselves into any party’s primary that they choose believe that this country would be better served by eliminating or weakening the two major political parties? If so, opening the Republican and Democratic primary elections to pick-and-choose Independents would be an effective way to weaken the two-major-party system which has served this country well for nearly 150 years.
* * *
Now the wisecracking southern Baptist minister and former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, has added obscenity to his repertoire of campaign-trail remarks as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination.
Campaigning in South Carolina, Huckabee touched on the controversy over whether South Carolina should fly the Confederate flag along with the Stars and Stripes.
He told a crowd in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: “You don’t like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell ‘em what to do with the pole, that’s what we’d do.”
Fortunately, his dirty joke apparently didn’t help Huckabee outpoll John McCain, who won South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary despite the fact that the state, with a strong element of religious conservatives, was considered to be one of Huckabee’s best bets for carrying another state as he did Iowa.
* * *
The headline read: “In on online age, do schools still need conferences?”
The story went on to say that Papillion-LaVista South High School has done away with traditional parent-teacher conferences for the second semester. The district eliminated designated days for such conferences and left it up to each school to make its own plan for communicating with parents. Papillion-LaVista South won’t schedule days for the traditional parent-teacher conferences this spring.
Parents were encouraged through a newsletter to use ParentWeb, the school’s online grade book, to check grades and attendance and to e-mail teachers. (Parents were also given the option of contacting teachers by phone to set up personal meetings if they felt it necessary.)
Annette Eyman, a district spokeswoman said, “The ultimate goal here is to provide teachers with more flexible time.”
How’s that again? One would think the ultimate goal is time set aside for teacher-parent communication, whether in person or by e-mail, would be used to advance the fundamentally important role which parents should be playing in the education of their children. More “flex time” for teachers would seem to be of secondary importance.
But if Papillion-LaVista South High School is to proceed with a “we hope parents don’t bother us” policy, let me suggest some e-mail addresses which could be used by the teachers who put “flex time” ahead of communication with parents in importance:
Don’tBotherMeExceptInEmergency@Papillion-LaVista.com WeDon’tNeedParentsInvolved@Papillion-LaVista.com RememberI’mVeryBusy@Papillion-LaVista.com
That should help teachers keep parent’s noses out of teachers’ business.
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