Today's Featured Biography
OK, here's an update as of March 15, 2017. Anita and I are in the planning stages for fall travel -- maybe a loop through the deep South, maybe overseas. She spent ten days in Colombia just before Christmas, with a delegation from "Witness for Peace," an organization hoping to further the peace accord in Colombia between the several factions where a war has been going on for five decades. Her son Daniel, succeeding in the face of intense competition, just landed a position in the San Francisco Fire Department as an EMT. My daughter Grace graduated from Smith College last May and is doing voluteer work for NY Public Library while she looks for a job and gears up for graduate school in a year. My son Shep got his MS from NYU and is an independent video game designer. He's won some awards and game design competitions. I continue to paint, and just bought a new SawStop table saw, and am building a replica of a 1890's Limbert desk. Will start riding my bike again when the snow goes away. Hope all of you are happy, healthy and doing fulfilling, fun stuff. Jim
(material below posted just after the 2009 reunion)
SOME OF YOU HAD ASKED TO SEE A COPY OF THE WELCOMING SPEECH I GAVE. I PUT IT ON THIS WEBSITE IN THE "MESSAGES" SECTION. JGR
I've had at least eight different careers which were, in chronological order: college professor, NYU; research psychologist (Bellevue Hospital, NYC); research consultant, NYC Board of Ed; independent research consultant; actor; editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster, NYC; editor for S&S's Fireside Books trade paperback imprint; free-lance writer; political speech writer; corporate speech writer; and director of editorial services for a Fortune 11 company.
Sheila and I were divorced in 2001. Our kids Grace and Shep stay with me every other weekend in Nyack, a lovely river town on the Hudson 20 miles north of NYC. I was deeply depressed after the divorce -- moved out of the house on Sept. 19, a week after losing good friends on Sept. 11 -- that Sept. 11.
Then, wonder of wonders, in 2002 I got an email from Anita (Fecht) Kline, with the subject line, "'s up?" The last time I'd seen or heard from Anita was 42 years before. But she hadn't been out of my mind. I mean that quite literally.
I've maintained a friendship over the years with Dwain and Ellie Dedrick -- he taught Spanish and German and she taught English at GB when we were there. They still live in Northfield, and in the 1990s when I was visiting my mom in Evanston, I visited them and Ellie asked me, "Do you remember -- what was her name? Anita? Anita Fecht? She was in that English class that you were in too."
I said, "Ellie, I think of Anita every day." I meant it. I would walk through Grand Central Station, thousands of people streaming past me, as I looked into faces, hoping to see hers. Once I thought I did, then realized that it would have had to be her daughter.
I traveled a lot in my work. I would read telephone books in cities I visited on business, looking for Anita Fecht. Never found her.
Anita's email elated me. She lived in San Francisco. We set up a phone date and talked for two hours. She visited me in New York. We began and maintain a bi-coastal relationship. We visit each other's coast, or fly separately to meet in places like Chicago, LA, DC, the Yucatan, Costa Rica. We've explored Mayan ruins (she speaks fluent Spanish from the Peace Corps and her work as a medical social worker at San Francisco General Hospital), hiked in Yosemite and Joshua Tree, and enjoyed Millennium Park in Chicago. We've meditated with the zen monks and nuns at Tassajara in CA, and with the monks and nuns of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition at Gampo Abbey on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
I took early retirement from corporate life, began to paint, write my own stuff, spend more time with my remarkable kids (Shep is graduating from Rockland Community College and just got a scholarship to NYU; Grace dances, plays the cello and is a straight-A student. She just got back from a trip to Quebec with her French class, and said it was "enchanting." She's in 8th grade.), and appreciate the present moment. I teach part time as an adjunct professor of English at Rockland Community College.
My life, with Anita in it, is full. Three cheers for, and a heartfelt bow to, email.
I hope each of you is in good health, happy and fulfilled. See you in 2009, thanks to the extraordinary work being done by Joanne, Rich and their recruitees.
a sad addendum to this: in August, my two brothers and I visited my mom in Evanston. We had planned the visit -- all of us getting together -- months before. Anita was there with me. Ken arrived Sunday, Gene Monday, Anita and I Tuesday. My mom died on Thursday morning. It was, in many respects, a blessing. It was also like she said, in some part of her, "Well, we're all together now, I can let go." We worked through the arrangments, then Anita and I went out to visit Dwain and Ellie Dedrick that afternoon. Ellie was upset because she had had her mother's silverware stolen the day before, probably by a cleaning crew, but we had a nice visit. I told her it had happened to a friend of mine in Richmond, VA, and the friend had checked pawn shops and eventually, with police help, had recovered the stolen items. I told Ellie I'd put together a list of such shops. Saturday, I called the Dedricks (A and I were staying with Mary Anne Hetterick Campo and her husband Joe) to say I had the list together, Dwain answered and said, "Jim, I'm so glad you called. Ellie died yesterday." He said she had had a heart attack Friday morning, was rushed to the hospital, had heroic surgery, but didn't make it through. Dwain has since moved to Boulder, CO to be nearer their son Scott. I was at some deep level expecting my mom to die. Losing Ellie a day later was far more shocking.
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