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Understanding Dad

Colby White’s story Finding My Father, March is very similar to my own. My father was raised in poverty, partially by a single mom, partially by what we would now call foster parents. He worked on their farm for room and board and was beaten when he misbehaved. He joined the U.S. Navy twice; he was rejected once after they learned that he was only 14. An 8th-grade education, lifetime military, the deaths of two brothers at young ages, and living far away from family for most of his life led him to be stoic and have no ability to show or experience emotions. I’m left, as is Colby, with admiration for his self-discipline and ability to make it through very tough times. But I never knew him as a person.

Christine Owens
Columns Online

The story from John White’s son is a somewhat tragic addendum [to the story told in The Boys in the Boat]. I wish he had known who his father really was while he was still alive. As the sister of an Olympic gold medal-winning rower (for Canada in 1956), I know firsthand what is involved in the achievement of a crew reaching the pinnacle. It has a lasting effect on all involved. It teaches us all lessons—and one is profound humility, which I think was John White’s take. I am forever grateful for what my brother and his crew accomplished. It has meant a lot to me, too. While Colby White has missed much, he can nonetheless be proud.

Danica Olivo
Columns Online

Split Decision

I was appalled to find that the UW is promoting boxing in any form. The ultimate goal of boxing is a knockout—in my world, a head injury. The UW has taken a leading role in head-injury prevention for many years. Why you would promote a sport whose only goal is to inflict a head injury is beyond me.

Marie L. Lobo, ’75, ’82
Professor, University of New Mexico College of Nursing
Albuquerque, N.M.

Kudos for highlighting the great things that Husky Boxing and coach Christopher Mendez are doing for these student-athletes. We are constantly impressed with the lessons that are being taught, and the results that are shown outside the ring even more than inside. These young men and women are exciting representatives of what sport, challenge and mentorship can teach us. The boxing part is only the classroom: the learning goes so far beyond. The Washington Athletic Club has hosted and partnered with Husky Boxing on “The Main Event,” one of the nation’s best collegiate boxing events each January, so our members have had the chance to interact with these student-athletes and see the incredible, positive impact that Husky Boxing has had on their lives.

Chuck Nelson, ’82
President & CEO, Washington Athletic Club, Seattle

It was a joy to see the feature article by Paul Fontana Ring Leaders, March. My father, Pliny Grant (“PG”) Morrison, told me he was the intramural featherweight champion sometime back in the ’20s. The article has it right: boxing is a lot more than what meets the eye. My dad taught me some skills, but carefully instructed me in their appropriate use. He loved to watch the lightweights because they were so fast and skillful. The kids in the neighborhood admired him and he always had a tip or two for them when we had friendly matches in the front yard. He went on to fight one professional fight, lost and never fought again. He pursued a career in electronics, and after retiring, even took a part-time job at the UW Applied Physics Lab. I know my father always valued his time at the UW. Now that I think of it, that may be the reason he decided to live nearby for most of his life.

Jim Morrison, ’80
Hansville

The Other Strauss

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading the Strauss House, March article that featured Dr. Alfred Strauss. When I was growing up in Colville, in the early 1950s, we, too, had a “Strauss House” on our street where our favorite Strauss family lived—that of Louis Strauss, who was a brother of Alfred Strauss. My late father knew of Louis and Alfred’s father, who was living in Colville when my dad was in high school there around 1927. Some of the Strauss cousins were my dad’s classmates. In 1972, I stopped in at Barmans Department Store, where Louis Strauss and I had a very nice visit, and he wanted to know where exactly I was stationed in Germany. I told him Schwaebisch Gmuend, and he replied, “Oh, that’s not that far from my hometown of Hartheim.” Small world. . . .

Dean G. Jamieson, ’79
Shoreline

Enlightened Legacy

The Gerberding Legacy, March was a wonderful appreciation of President Gerberding. Bill and I retired about the same time and forged a close friendship. He and Ruth came to France three times (I continued teaching in France after my retirement from the UW). Upon our return to New York City, they came out twice to visit. I am mourning while remembering our luminous times together. He was a first-rate intellect and a true Enlightenment humanist—an endangered species.

Constantine Christofides
Professor & Director Emeritus, UW School of Art

Gentle Janis

Janis Avery’s search “for solutions to suffering” is inspiring Fostering Hope, March. If we all do something to support the end of suffering, the world will be a much better place. For example, asking our representatives and senators not to cut the SNAP program (formerly called food stamps) will help fight hunger in America. Northwest Harvest says it can provide only one of every 24 bags of food needed by hungry families, though there are up to 700 food drives a year! With at least one in five children not sure about their next meal, taking the time for a call or email to lawmakers is critical.

Willie Dickerson, ’73, ’94
Snohomish

Babb’s Boost

Reading the obituary of Dr. Albert L. Babb [March], I remembered with appreciation the singular role he played in my career. I had enrolled in 1964 with the intent of using my undergraduate chemical engineering studies as a springboard to get into the nuclear engineering program, which was taught only at the graduate level. Alas, approaching the spring quarter of my senior year, my grades were, charitably, marginal as I contemplated qualifying to get into the graduate program. Dr. Babb kindly told me that if I achieved a 3.7 GPA that spring, he would admit me into the graduate program. Trouble was, I had never achieved higher than a 3.1. His willingness to give me a chance to qualify gave me the incentive to work on my studies as I had never done before—and I achieved the required GPA. I was admitted into grad school, achieved the academic goals I had set for myself, and had a successful career in the field I had wanted since the age of 12. Many years later, I thanked Dr. Babb for the boost he had given me. And one last time, I would like to express my appreciation for his willingness to assist a struggling student. I am sure that his contributions to humanity were more than matched by his contributions to the careers of many students like me.

Fred Emerson, ’68, ’70
Leland, North Carolina

Cookie Love

I smiled when I read about lecturer Stuart Reges You Have To Crack A Lot Of Eggs To Make 116 Dozen Cookies, March. Like Stuart, my wife Brenda has been mixing up her famous chocolate chip cookie recipe for her co-workers and customers at the busy Central Market in Poulsbo for several years. After reading about Stuart and his cookie offerings, we did a little math and estimate that Brenda turns out more than 8,000 cookies a year. People even come in on their day off and post-retirement to enjoy her treats. Thanks for the fun article!

Ron Hirschi, ’74
Poulsbo

What About Shipman?

I was recently re-reading some of my old copies of Columns and came across an article in the September 2011 issue titled Denny’s Legacy, which contains the following sentence: “… in 1961, [Brewster Denny] was called home by UW President Charles E. Odegaard, who asked him to create an academic program in public affairs.” Upon reading that sentence, I wondered how it was that the UW awarded me and a number of others Masters of Public Administration (MPA) degrees in 1954. The fact is, a viable graduate program in public affairs existed at the university 12 to 14 years before 1961. It was called the Institute of Public Affairs, was a branch of the Political Science Department and was headed by Dr. George Shipman. As a graduate of the UW’s public affairs program, I am pleased at the way it has grown over the years under the leadership of Dr. Shipman, Dean Denny and the succeeding deans into one of the top schools of public affairs in the country. But to say it originated in 1962 is not correct and does not recognize those who received MPAs prior to 1962 or the work of Dr. Shipman.

David Nordquist, ’54
Pullman

Impossible is Nothing

The article Grade Upgrade, March was very inspiring. If I could, I would donate money to upgrade the [Instructional Center’s] physical plant. I was a student at UW in 1970 when the Instructional Center got off the ground.

Briana Simon, ’73
Columns Online

I Am Art

Professor Oliver Faculty Profile, March is just as he describes—art—and he brings out the best in his students. It was an honor to take one of his classes. I hope to see more articles like this one, featuring local faculty, staff members, or students who are incredible people.

Karen Brooks
Columns Online

Jim Dandy

Thank you for your wonderful piece on Jim Long Jim, March. It was an honor and great pleasure to have Jim live at Norse Home. I still miss making his martini at Happy Hour. He was truly an amazing man.

Molly Holscher
Activity Coordinator, Norse Home, Seattle

Thanks for the column on Jim and Nancy Long. I sat right behind them at St. Dunstan’s (Shoreline) Episcopal Church every Sunday. I knew he was a retired priest. At some point, when Jim had a birthday and a cake was provided, he stood and talked. For the first time, I recognized he was a person full of fascinating history and perspectives. When I said as much to him, he just raised an eyebrow and bemusedly said, “So you just glanced at us and thought we were old people!” I, of course, was also at the Dec. 9th service at the Cathedral. Such a robust thinker. Such breadth of being.How unique. I miss them, too.

Frederica (Rica) O’Connor
Associate Professor Emerita, UW School of Nursing

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Email letter to—columns@uw.edu (Letters to Columns may be edited for length and clarity.) Mail letter to—Columns Magazine, Campus Box 359508, Seattle, WA 98195-9508 Thanks for stirring the pot.