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Friends

I have been fortunate to have many friends and there are few things I value more than a good friendship. I have, like others, friends of various types and levels. It has been my preference to have a few good friends as opposed to a bunch of friendly acquaintances that I call friends. When I have encountered a friend, it has generally been my hope to be a best friend in return - and in return for that I have been greatly rewarded. 

Here I will mention a few good friends in two categories: old friends who deserve to be honored and new friends who I relate with currently and are a significant presence in my life. I will not include family members who have been lifelong friends such as Gary, Lynne, and Mike. It is impossible to convey their influence and worth. I will not include childhood friends like Wayne Sewell, Glenda Kaye Sewell, David Adams, Wayne Feinstein, Brenda Brown, or Linda Evans even they all offered more than normal friendship. I suppose I should list some significant "girlfriends", but doing such might be a disservice. Ilene Rose Fox was special in many ways and I wish that we had remained friends.

John White was a best friend and skiing buddy through high school (Walnut Ridge in Columbus, Ohio) and beyond. And his sister, Chris, became my wife - so his influence was great. John became a professional photographer in New York and was caught in the middle when Chris and I separated and divorced. Nevertheless, he did his best to walk the tightrope with integrity and loyalty and I will always appreciate that. John White, Sr. and "Bobby" were as good of friends as in-laws can be. 

Jerry Glick and Kirk King were mentors, teachers, and friends at Walnut Ridge and both served as important role models during an influential time. Although I had the privilege of knowing Jerry and Kirk as more than a student, they will always be "Mr. Glick" and "Mr. King" since they earned such respect. As (first) President of the Ski Club ('67 and '68), I was "advised" by Mr. Glick and we spent many hours on the ski bus together. His tales of adventure had plenty to do with my desire to see the world and seek out its special places. Mr. King advised the "AV Club" (I was president in '67 and '68) and he treated me more as an equal than any adult at the time. (I also gained plenty from Coach Richardson and Coach Cornell and learned many "don't be like them" lessons from the other teaching staff).

As I entered adulthood, college, and the working world, Chris consumed my friendship time. Like it or not, we were best friends and lovers for a big chunk of my life. We parted poorly, but had over two decades of mutual affection and intimacy. The biggest lesson I learned from that relationship is how little we really know about each other - even those we are closest to. To say that Chris surprised me is a massive understatement - I trusted her "reason and common-sense values" and her loyalty; only to discover that both were easily overwhelmed by emotional desires (C'est la vie). As a friend... well, I will honor the addage, "If you have nothing good to say..."

I had a few good friends in the Military, but kept only one. That was surprising in two regards: there were a few good friends I would have expected to keep (and didn't) and I wouldn't have guessed that Al Ewert and I would stay friends. Al and I met as Air Force Survival Instructors where I was a year (and a rank) ahead of him. In 1973, we both volunteered for an extra duty assignment teaching a weekend course at Big Bend Community College and have been "buds" since. Whether scuba diving, climbing, or just causing trouble, we have shared many a great time, a few foibles, and a couple of "disasters". We can talk about anything, we cover each other's back, and we share the "hunter's bond". Thus, although we don't spend much time together, we are never truly apart. How many times does someone have to save your life before they become more than a friend?

Like the two high school teachers who went above and beyond, I had two college instructors (eastern washington University) who did the same: Dr. Glen Fuglsby and Dr. Orland Killin. Glen was my faculty advisor, mentor, and favorite teacher. He offered me every opportunity possible and set an example for instructional excellence. I learned plenty from him even though we weren't "friends" per se, we were unusually friendly. As his "lab aid" and his instructional assistant he was also my boss. I admired him greatly. Dr. Killin was a friend who happened to be a professor. We were diligent in separating roles, but he was just the kind of kind man who couldn't let a friend miss out. So, he encouraged me to reach higher and achieve more - what more could one want from a friend?

Entering the teaching profession at The Dalles High School brought another associate-boss-friend, Bob Taylor (Vice-Principal). Bob was a great boss and led a great team (the "vocational staff") where I worked with a group of friends who helped me professionally and personally. Indeed, the entire staff at TDHS proved to be the perfect group for a new teacher, a developing, teacher, and their eventual "leader" (as President of the Faculty Council and the Teacher's Association). In my seven years as a teacher, I tried to apply the model I had enjoyed as a student and became friends with a number of students. Matt Heath, Pete Gothro, and Jon Halderson stand out among a group of friends who I wish I had stayed in contact with. And I wonder what happen to Howard Barbour, the fellow teacher (from England) who could have been a better friend had I given it more time and effort.

The student-friend I stayed friends with longest was Rick Miles. Rick became an employee and co-managed Cherry Computers with me. He got a well-earned offer that I couldn't match and disappeared. We didn't stay in contact and I never found out how things went for him. 

But, that's a jump ahead. I hadn't been teaching very long when I got a call from Bill Bell at the Treaty Oak Community College Service District. He had need of a welding program and wanted to meet the new welding instructor at the high school. We met and started  a decade long professional relationship and personal friendship which was not "close", but which was important, productive, and most positive. With Bill's open-minded and highly capable leadership, we created a welding program, electronics program, and computer science program which I will always be proud of. Of all my professional friendships, none have surpassed that which Bill and I shared (along with Judy Collins). But that takes us into another "lifetime"...

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