Abilene High School Class of 1961

December 27, 2013

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Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 9:42 pm

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December 14, 2007

The Messiah, by Karen Lusby Wiggins from Africa

Filed under: Abilene High School — johnodam @ 3:24 pm

 John and Larry,
>> Thanks for bringing this back to my memory.  The year
>> the A.H.S choir sang THE MESSIAH  was so much fun.
>> THE MESSIAH that we performed that December was also
>> very special for me, too.  My father, who knew nothing
>> about music attended.  It meant so much for him to be
>> there.  I felt as if our performance  was
>> extraordinary in my mind.  As time went by and I
>> attended other not so wonderful productions of the
>> THE MESSIAH, I convinced myself that it could not have
>> been as good as I remembered.  We were just in high
>> school.  At the time, I was so very proud of all the
>> extra work we put into that performance.  I was always
>> proud of the quality of our teachers.
>> We did have fun in choirs.  I remember Mr. Glover when
>> I was at South Junior High School. It was then that I
>> started to believe in myself through those choirs.  I
>> remember going on a tour in Galveston where It snowed.
>> Many of us from the choir went to a pizza place where
>> there were red checked tablecloths on small round
>> tables with candles dripped on wine bottles.  I had my
>> first pizza there.  As we were waiting for the pizza ,
>> someone just started singing  something–sort of an
>> Italian drinking song. Tell me if you remember the
>> song.  Was it an opera? All of us were singing and
>> raising our coke glasses in the air.  I felt as if I
>> were in some sort of musical.  Those who were not in
>> the choir just looked at all of us with wonder and
>> amazement.  Wow!   What wonderful people kept us in
>> their homes!
>> Later, in McMurry I was also lucky to be in the
>> touring choir with Dr.Von Ende.  All these experiences
>> plus being in community choirs in Boston, Mass. and
>> singing Durefle’s Requiem under the direction of Roger
>> Wagner in a performance in Fayetteville, Arkansas,
>> gave my life a rich background to round out my life.
>> Does anyone know if either Michael Johnstone or Carl
>> Best are alive?  I would love to tell them thank you.
>> Here in Africa, I can get energy from those times by
>> listening to our DVD of George Friderick Handel’s The
>> THE MESSIAH  as sung by the choir of King’s College,
>> Cambridge.  We also listen to  our DVD of Mozart ‘s
>> The Requiem From Sarajevo.  We also really enjoy Beth
>> Nielsesn Chapman Hymns which has Adoramus Te Christi
>> that we did one year as I recall.  Her choir sings
>> Latin Hymns.  The few things that we miss is worship
>> time in English. We miss organ music, choirs , praise
>> music and a good old pew polishing sermon.
>> I would like to use this time to thank Joyce
>> (Berry)Johnson, one of our choir friends who has been
>> good enough to pay for my school for one whole year at
>> $250 a month.  She was one of the triplets. Thanks,
>> Joyce.  Now I can continue for two more classes.  My
>> last school was a very good success and the children
>> did very well on the end of the year English Tests at
>> their public school. .  Now I can send 26 more
>> children to my school.  Another 1961 friend, Deana
>> Carmack, sent my class 30 Starfall books that will
>> allow 30 new teachers to teach E.S.L.   When the
>> teachers come to watch my model classroom they are
>> given a packet of Instructions and material to  help
>> with their pronunciation and  methods of teaching.
>> With the Starfall books in that packet, they can teach
>> the rules for English vowel sounds and will have 15
>> small books to allow the students to practice reading
>> in English.  With my last class, after passing the 15
>> books they were able to pick up other books in English
>> and just read it correctly.  New vocabulary had to be
>> learned at this time, but the excitement was wonderful
>> and led them to learn many new things.  After a
>> wonderful graduation on one day, the next day my
>> driver and friend and I drove our two cars winding
>> through the Serengeti watching animals. We had lunch
>> at the Visitor’s Center in the middle with all the
>> moneyed people from the world over.  Many from all
>> over the world get to see the animals that belong to
>> my class and on that day, they did too.
>> This was my first time to drive on a safari. Some
>> field trip, huh? For pictures of last years  school go
>> to:
>> http://web.mac.com/ninjapenguin/iWeb/Mama%20Africa%27s%20Shule%20%28school%29/
>> Thank you so much friends for praying us through.
>> *Our One Book Foundation is talking about building me
>> a classroom so  we will be out of the way when
>> missionaries come to give Sanitation and Hygiene
>> classes.
>> *Our good friends in Fayetteville, Arkansas have
>> raised the 2,500 dollars to buy and send the container
>> and collected a container of books so in February we
>> will open the first ever Public Library in Bunda. Now
>> we will be entering them into the computer and
>> labeling them.
>> *We have made and either sold or had donated over 50
>> Bio-Sand filters to clean their water. Head teachers
>> at schools say the illness goes way down when they
>> have a filter. They were presented with an award by
>> the Government of Tanzania because of all the charcoal
>> they did not use boiling water.  It cost 60 Dollars
>> and in three months of not buying charcoal it will pay
>> for itself.  Many are learning the significance of
>> these filters.
>> God Bless,
>> Karen (Lusby) WIggins
>> Mama Africa

November 26, 2007

Rememberance of Doug Beyer by his friend, Spencer Taylor

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 9:06 pm

The service was nothing different than any other service except that it was my friend being buried and I missed him greatly. Counting Doug and me there were 5 people there that were in my wedding party 41 yrs ago that day.The others being Doug’s cousin Ronny Beyer, our classmate Richard Crowell and a friend named Herluth Faulks.
Doug and I met the summer of 1958. He was delivering papers for the Reporter News and I had the route next to his. We were finished delivering our routes and were both behind Throntons on so 14th and Barrow stealing a stalk of banana’s and donuts. We had been doing that all summer but never at the same time until that day. He was riding a cushman eagle and I was on a sears scooter. After that we met every morning except Sunday until school started. For some reason we stayed friends for the rest of our lives. We sometimes went years without seeing one another but always stayed in touch by Christmas cards. Doug ‘s wife Betty, was great at keeping us informed about what was going on with their family and Gayle would do the same. When he retired in 2000 at
brownwood we got back together and saw each other often. He and Betty came to
Colorado to visit us in the summer and we spent a couple of New years eve’s with them. We met at different places to eat during the year and I know I really looked forward to our times together. One thing is for sure, I am really going to miss him! 

A West Texas Storm; the AHS Eagles of the 50s b/4 Southlake Carroll

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 9:05 pm

Subscriber Services  Star-Telegram.com News Business Sports
Entertainment Living Classifieds Jobs Cars Homes
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Section: Sports
Edition: Tarrant
Page: D1

West Texas storm
Long before Southlake Carroll, another dynasty blew through the
state. Abilene won 49 consecutive games in the 1950s.
GARY WEST Star-Telegram Staff Writer

The football team was so popular that in a long line people would
wait through the night to buy game tickets. Of course, this
wasn’t an ordinary high school football team. Many of the players
had been together for years, running the same plays in the same
system, season after season. And so regardless of the situation
or the pressure, they operated with uncanny precision, just like
those wrist watches that John Cameron Swayze extolled on television.

And they always won. Overwhelmingly and relentlessly, they won,
and that more than anything distinguished this high school team
from all others — its invincibility, its array of victories, and
its convergence with perfection, 50 years ago, in Abilene.

Yes, 50 years before the Carroll Dragons of Southlake, the
Abilene Fighting War Eagles won three consecutive state titles
and 49 consecutive games, which stood as a national record back
in 1957. In Texas, Abilene was the archetype of the high school
juggernaut, the original team that pushed everybody’s envy button.

 From the fourth game of the 1954 season until a playoff game in
1957 that ended in a tie, Abilene quite simply beat everybody,
outscoring its opponents 1,773-276. Typically, Abilene won with a
comfort zone of about 30 points, even though the starters rarely
played much in the second half.

The storm gathers

Abilene High must have provided high school football with its
perfect storm. In the 1950s, Abilene was booming. Within 75 miles
of the city, hundreds of oil fields were discovered. During the
decade, Abilene nearly doubled in size, with its population
growing from 45,570 in 1950 to 90,638 in 1960. And if thousands
of people came for opportunities and jobs, they must have brought
with them a resolute faith in the power of hard work, they must
have believed in work and determination as virtues, and they must
have passed that belief on to their kids.

Into this confluence of auspicious circumstances came Chuck
Moser, the final barometric component. With a starting salary of
$7,000, he became the Abilene football coach in 1953.

Explaining the Eagles’ 49 consecutive victories, Stuart Peake
said, “The main thing was the coaching.” One of the fastest
Eagles, Peake played guard and defensive end on all three of
Moser’s state championship teams and then went on to play for
Darrell Royal at the University of Texas.

“We had the most incredible coaches at Abilene,” said Peake,
who’s a physician in Dallas. “Not to say anything against Darrell
Royal, but our blocking [at Abilene] surpassed anything we had in
college…. Our scouting was so thorough we knew everything there
was to know about our opponents, except maybe their girlfriends’
names, and our plays were very sophisticated.”

Students of the game

Every year, Peake recalled, Moser told his players that even if
they weren’t the smartest kids at Abilene High they were going to
be the best students. Nearly 30 years before “no-pass, no-play,”
Moser, who was an Army veteran, introduced “eligibility slips.”

Each week during the season, for each player, teachers filled out
an “eligibility slip,” commenting on grades and attitude. If
deficient in either area, former players explained, the student
couldn’t play in the upcoming game.

“If a teacher had a problem, all that teacher had to do was tell
the coach,” said Elmo Cure Jr., of Cure Financial in Plano, the
starting center for Abilene in 1954-55, “and he’d straighten up
the kid the very next day.”

Modernity might label Moser a strict disciplinarian, but neither
teachers nor parents objected to the coach’s standards back in
the 1950s, according to those who played for him. Moser’s rules
banned alcohol and tobacco; he kicked at least one player off the
team for drinking beer. Moser imposed a 10 p.m. curfew (11:30
p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), wouldn’t allow cussing, wouldn’t
tolerate arguing, demanded a respectful “sir” and required
freshly shined shoes for each game, according to Al Pickett’s
Team of the Century: The Greatest High School Football Team in Texas.

And playing for Moser, recalled Ron Luckie of Fort Worth, a
member of the 1957 team, meant “you had to follow the rules

In Moser’s first season, despite having only two returning
starters, Abilene finished with four consecutive victories to win
seven of 10 games. The foundation down, the coach then built on
it by encouraging healthy habits and off-season conditioning.

He even monitored his players during the summer. Jim Millerman,
who had started for two years on both offense and defense, worked
as a counselor that summer at a camp about two hours south of
Abilene. One afternoon, he recalled, just as he lay down for a
brief rest, Moser walked through the front door of the cabin.

Millerman, who went on to play for Baylor and then work as an
insurance executive in Dallas, chuckled at the memory, imagining
a Moser admonishment. Most of all, though, Millerman said he was
left with the impression that Moser was always watching and
guiding his players.

The next year, Abilene shut out Highland Park and Sweetwater
before losing to Breckenridge, 35-13. And the Eagles, as it
turned out, wouldn’t lose again for more than three years.

For disciplinary reasons — an impetuous road trip — two starters
were dropped from the team. But the Eagles, in their perfect
storm, were coming together. Millerman would become all-state,
along with teammates Twyman Ash and John Thomas.

Abilene defeated Midland and the Bulldogs’ great running back,
Wahoo McDaniel, 28-14, to win the title in the 4A district known
as the “Little Southwest Conference.” The Eagles shut out El Paso
Austin and Fort Worth Poly, winning the games by 107 total
points, then traveled to Houston to win the state title,
defeating Stephen F. Austin 14-7.

“I’ve been around a lot of coaches in my career,” said Wally
Bullington about Moser, “and I’ve never known a better coach.”
Bullington worked as an Abilene assistant and succeeded Moser as
head coach. Bullington later coached at Abilene Christian
University, where he won two NAIA national titles.

Other homework

Abilene, Bullington said, was many years ahead of what other high
schools, and most colleges, were doing at the time. Assistants
would put together detailed scouting reports on each opponent;
players had to pass tests on the scouting report, and there was
only one passing grade, perfection.

Players met in groups every day before school, Moser met with the
quarterbacks every day at lunch. And for each opponent, the coach
would design special plays that he called “junk.”

“He taught us how to recognize defenses in a second,” said David
Bourland, who played defensive back and quarterback at Abilene
and later played baseball at Texas Tech. Moser would use flash
cards, Bourland said, to quiz the quarterbacks daily on defensive

“We had to know the name and size of every player on the other
defense,” Bourland said, “and we had to know if a player was
better going right or left. He [Moser] expected a lot.”

But he got a lot. Abilene blew through the state like a West
Texas storm in 1955, winning its 13 games by a combined score of
501-90. Only one team, Breckenridge, got within two touchdowns of
Abilene. And several players said that the championship game was
the Eagles’ finest moment.

For the state title, Abilene played Tyler at Amon G. Carter
Stadium. A chartered train brought Eagles fans to Fort Worth at a
cost $4 for a roundtrip, including a bus ride from the station to
the stadium. On the second play of the game, a “junk” play called
the “Tyler Special,” all-state back Glynn Gregory ran more than
40 yards, and that, as they say, set the tone. Abilene won
easily, 33-13.

And it was more of the same the next year, 14 wins by a combined
score of 496-64. Only Waco, with 14, scored more than seven
points against Abilene.

A stunning ‘loss’

Mike Bryant of Fort Worth was an all-state tackle for Abilene in
1957. The Eagles, he said, were just faster than other teams.
When they weren’t playing football, they worked on agility
drills; in the summer, they worked outside to stay fit. Even the
Eagles’ linemen were fast.

And so it was “devastating,” he said, when the streak ended in
1957, in a 20-20 tie with Highland Park in the state semifinals
at the Cotton Bowl. The Star-Telegram of the next day, Dec. 15,
called it a “stunning ‘victory'” for Highland Park.

In retrospect, not much went right that week for Abilene, Bryant
said. One player even forgot his lucky shirt. At least one player
and probably more couldn’t play because of their “eligibility slips.”

But, most of all, Bryant said, the streak ended because of the
Highland Park fullback, Johnny Florer, who scored the Scotties’
first touchdown and was relentless all afternoon. Although the
score was tied, Highland Park, which had more penetrations inside
the 20, advanced to the state finals.

The Eagles were 78-7-2 during Moser’s seven seasons as their
coach. He became athletic director of Abilene public schools and
then coached briefly as an assistant to Emory Bellard at Texas
A&M. Moser died in 1995.

He often told his players, Peake recalled, that if they worked
diligently and determinedly they would surely succeed, and then
they would win for themselves something they could remember for
many years. And 50 years later, his players still remember.


Loss before streak:

Breckenridge 35-13 in

nondistrict on Oct. 1, 1954


Opponent, Result

Borger, 34-7

Odessa, 21-7

Pampa, 41-7

Amarillo, 47-0

Lubbock, 35-7

Midland, 28-14

San Angelo, 27-0

El Paso Austin, 61-0

FW Polytechnic, 46-0

Houston Austin, 14-7


Opponent, Result

Highland Park, 34-0

Sweetwater, 45-20

Breckenridge, 13-0

Borger, 35-6

Odessa, 47-0

Pampa, 40-12

Amarillo, 35-13

Lubbock, 62-7

Midland, 28-7

San Angelo, 35-6

El Paso, 61-0

Dallas Sunset, 33-6

Tyler, 33-13


Opponent, Result

San Antonio Edison, 41-6

Sweetwater, 39-7

Lubbock Monterey, 41-0

Breckenridge, 41-0

Lubbock, 49-7

Waco, 45-14

Big Spring, 42-6

Odessa, 47-6

Midland, 41-6

San Angelo, 20-0

El Paso Ysleta, 42-6

FW Paschal, 14-0

Wichita Falls, 20-6

Corpus Christi Ray, 14-0


Opponent, Result

San Antonio Jefferson, 26-13

Sweetwater, 34-13

Lubbock Monterey, 58-0

Breckenridge, 41-20

Lubbock, 39-0

Waco, 27-7

Big Spring, 32-0

Odessa, 19-0

Midland, 41-0

San Angelo, 12-6

El Paso Austin, 60-0

Amarillo, 33-14


12252 Lake Vista Drive
Willis, TX 77318
206-920-3716 cell

February 8, 2007

Karen Lusby Wiggin’s Christmas 06 story from Africa

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 3:58 pm

Here is the story as I saw it.

Graci in the hospital  December 19 2006

Graci had a baby.  Graci is 15 and is the little girl
of Juliana, my house mother here in Bunda, Tanzania.
No one even knew that she was pregnant. I spent most
of today at the Bunda Hospital, a small mission
hospital that is very primitive.  Graci had such high
blood pressure that she may not live through the
night.  Charles came later in the day to pray for her
and anoint her with oil.  It is 9:00 pm and I just
can’t even sleep from praying.

Sitting and holding a beautiful new baby who seemed to
know she needed to be calm and let her “baby mother”
have all the attention, I just watched and rocked and
prayed. It looked as if I was holding a gift from God
while at the same time watching God take another of
his children home.  Thank the Lord we are all
Christians. Charlini (the baby named for my husband,
Charles) was not making a sound.  She was making it a
silent night just like Jesus on Christmas.

Graci, her mother, was having a hard time breathing.
Her skin was very tight from all the swelling making
her hard to even recognize.  It was not just her feet
swelling, but her head and everywhere as if she was
blown up like a balloon.  I have been to this hospital
many times and yet I am still not used to the place.
We don’t even notice how clean things are in American
hospitals. If we do look around and find a single hair
on the floor we are grossed out.  For some reason,
they had her mattress on the floor and two IVs hooked
up to both arms. The bed that was next to her, where
her mattress used to be, was very dirty.  I saw stains
of blood. Underneath, the slats were covered in
cobwebs. I saw some sort of needle packaging that was
suspended in the webs like a safety net at a circus. 

I feel that Juliana is part of my family, and I
reverted back to my American self of wanting to fix
everything.  I wanted to find someone to save Graci. I
just wanted to just clean everything.  I refrained,
yet I might try to work on making sure that hospital
is clean later.  Maybe I could teach Sanitation and
Hygiene for the workers at that hospital.

Three other mothers were very quiet with their babies
in the same room. There were beds for six mothers in
the room. The mothers looked so healthy, and they were
so polite to stay very quiet.  They knew that Graci
was in trouble.  The hospital does not provide
anything but service and medication.  Everyone has to
bring a  basket of food, pieces of cloth for cover,
and swaddling clothes for the baby. All these things
were brought from home.

They have mosquito nets for the people that are in the
hospital.  The nets were as much for keeping flys off
as well as mosquitos.  Each patient must have someone
to stay with them to bring food and just be the nurse.
I was able to see that in the day, the nets were there
to keep the flies away. There were so many flies. I
felt the need to fan the patients that did not have
their nets over them.  Fanning Graci and singing the
Lord’s prayer softly and reciting the 23rd Psalm was
all I knew to do.

As we were going, Juliana was walking part of the way
with us carrying a tub full of dirty sheets and
clothes on her head. In all her grief, now she had to
wash laundry in a grassy area near a water tank.

I know that I am in a third world country, but I do
not want to let these practices just go unchanged.
Sometimes I just don’t know where to begin.  I pray
the Lord will lead me.

December 24, 2006

Yesterday, we buried Graci.  I have been in a fog for
the last 6 days.  It was time for me to learn the
actual hurt that exists in Tanzanians today and
throughout history.  The pain is not that different in
the U.S., but the acceptance of the hurt is different.
The  dealing with it is different.
         John (my son) and I went to Juliana’s home to
find about 100 people were still at her home from
yesterday when Graci died. This is the practice. Go to
your friend’s home when someone dies and stay there
for three days.  Juilana was still in the clothes she
had been wearing at the hospital with the kanga that I
had left with her yesterday wrapped around her on top
of her other kangas.  John went with me and quickly
realized about the placement of people– men are to be
outside.  We just marched up to her house and went in.
 Juliana was in her dark, empty living room with its
mud walls and dirt floor.  Very close friends were
sitting with Juliana on a bamboo mat on the floor
leaning up against the mud covered brick wall.  She
hopped up to hug both John and me.  With my
claustrophobia and bad knees I couldn’t stay inside,
so I stepped on the stones down to the yard to sit
with the other friends on the rocks.  John retreated
to the outer yard that was set up with an alter table
and a curtain hanging in a tree to stand with the men.
Talking to Mr. Masele,  our Kiswahili teacher, we
learned the rules. Those who were very close stayed in
the room with Juliana, close friends were just outside
the door, and others were cooking in the outdoor
kitchen–shooing the skinny, hungry dog out.  Men
talked in the outer yard.  Not so close friends were
in the yard of a neighbor.

None of the women near me were doing any talking.
Just a few whispers.  Then the rains came.  John and I
headed for the car which was the only vehicle there.
The others just disappeared like they do at the market
when it rains.  You just look up and everyone is gone.
 It was a loud and sad rain as if God was crying for
Graci.  Soon my car was sitting in a river.

Without embalming, no one seemed to know what to do.
It was Saturday. The priest would not come on Sunday
and Monday was Christmas.  Tuesday was out of the
question. It would be too late.  It had to be today,
two days before Christmas, rain or not. 

As the rain slowed down, all came out from
where-ever-they-were and the casket had shown up in a
pick up truck.  Almost as if we were watching an old
western, a small wooden casket, just a fit for our
sweet Graci, showed up on the alter table on a white
cloth. The long nails were up ready to be hammered in.
On the top we could see the hammer ready to lock in
the horror of the last seven days.  Along with the
hammer a small china plate was on top of the casket.
At about the level of the shoulders  on the casket,
was some greenery that surrounded the face of what was
left of our sweet “child mother”.  John and I gathered
around watching Juliana as she sat on a stool next to
the casket.  She was very controlled and almost
comatose, after all, seven days ago she had a 15 year
old daughter with swollen feet and a swollen stomach
nothing more. Now, she had a baby a few days old and
had lost her young daughter.  It was the mother’s job
to sit by the coffin during the funeral.  Every time I
had a chance. I hugged Juliana’s other children who
seemed to be forgotten.

The priest was very up, smiling, giving hope and
reminding us that Graci was with God now.  No one else
was  smiling.  Juliana’s eyes were floating up and
down as if they were on the top edge of a wave in the
open sea.  She was not at all like she was when Graci
had just died in the hospital where she was angry at
the hospital, Graci, the baby, and even God.  Then,
her wailing was hard for me to even listen to.

After the priest was finished, it was time for the
mouth of the casket to open revealing Graci’s head,
while lines of people  walked by, each placing a coin
in the chipped china plate and saying good-bye to
Graci.  John and I were ready for this.  We had seen
an open casket funeral before in the U.S., but we were
not ready for what we observed here.  In the first
group that passed by with us, all was calm and under
control.  We placed the coins in the china plate,
glanced at Graci as her uncle sprayed her with
perfume, and we walked back to our place.  The last
group that came must have been her very best friends
and relatives.  As they saw Graci, they made sounds
that I did not think wild animals could make–at which
time they collapsed into the arms of men that were
ready to catch them.  I have been to church services
where people were slain in the sprit.  This was
something akin to that.  John and I wished we could
get the sadness within us out, as they had done, so it
would not hurt so much trapped inside us and burning.
With the mud, rain, pain, and the strangeness of
saying goodbye, John and I felt the need to just go
home, listen to music, and maybe eat something.  We
had come with Kathryn, our Peace Corps friend, and
went to tell her we were going home. She smiled and
said she would walk home, knowing full well that we
were not going to be able to just go home.  As we
listened to the hammering of the coffin reminding me
of the hammering of Jesus to the cross, Bang! Bang!
Bang!, I was about to explode with pent up emotion.
John’s eyes showed me he felt the same.  We hurried to
the car to retreat as fast as we could.  As we opened
our doors, the whole family poured inside–filling up
our car like a clown car at the circus.  As I looked
at John, the mud slick road, and the nearly empty gas
tank–I just said a prayer and joined in the parade to
the muddy spot where they would bury Graci.

They had placed the coffin in the pick up, about 20
men gathered around the coffin, and they placed the
truck in front of my car.  Kathryn was right.  We were
not just going home.  She would walk home, and we
would take the family to the burial site.

I did not know how far we would go, if I had enough
gas, or if I had the ability to drive us there.  Two
cars were in front of me now, and it was my job to
watch the fifteen inch square of wood that was the
foot of Graci’s coffin leave Bunda and head into the
depths of the muddy Lake Victoria region.

Turning off of the main road to what looked like the
short cut that you only take in the dry season to a
nearby village, I knew we were in trouble.  I watched
the first car heading into a small lake.  It made it.
Then the pick up made it, so off I went.  I got
through it and then raised my hands as if I had won a
contest.  All the men in the pickup saw my victory cry
and began to laugh.  They gave me the thumbs up and
began to laugh and scream.  Many in my car also began
to call, “Mama Africa! You can do it.”  All I could
think of was hearing my husband, Charles, at home sick
with malaria saying to me, “You just get your Mama
Africa back home to me, safely!”

I asked John if he knew how to engage the four-wheel
drive. He said no but proceeded to show me how.
Luckily, I had the clutch in.  Now I would watch the
two vehicles ahead of me slide one way, then the other
way, almost turning over and finally getting stuck and
having to be pushed out by all the men.  I would
duplicate their moves without the getting stuck part
and on we went into the unknown.  One place was so
thick with mud that they almost turned over–with mud
above the middle of the tires.  I could hear Baba (my
husband) say, “NO MORE”  so I told them I would go no
further.  They had to get out and walk, and I would
wait to take them back.  They understood and got out.
John and our security guard, Samson, (who had come to
the funeral) stayed with me.  I backed the car up
about the length of two football fields, until I
reached a place that I  could turn around. Now we were
ready to just sit and wait for the crowd to return. 

Now that they were gone, the contrast was
overwhelming.  Looking around at the vast barren land
quiet but with many birds singing, I decided to take a
walk in the mud and check out the road left to be our
challenge.  John opted to sleep, using his escape
method.  In the absolute quiet, the calmness and
serenity contrasted from the funeral, with the sun now
out and headed for its famous display of a Tanzanian
sunset, I just watched and listened.  Again, I felt
blessed to be here as I so often do.  I have often
asked God how these wonderful people cope with the
many deaths that they experience here every day
because of HIV/Aids and malaria.  Today God showed me
a very small example.  One day maybe I will be as
strong as these beautiful Christian women.

Wednesday, we will go to the baptism of little
Charleni before we deliver her to Lizabeth’s
orphanage.  Lizabeth keeps the children from birth
’till two years, then they are returned to the family.
 As of now, I don’t see what can happen to make the
family better equipped to raise Charleni in two years.
 (Because of superstitious relatives, the baby was not
taken to the orphanage.)  

We watched three herds of cows and one herd of small
goats along with their children shepherds pass by.
With the sun very low in the darkening sky, the family
returned, climbed back in the car, and we slowly drove
back through the mud to Juliana’s home.  It had been a
sad, strange day. 

December 28, 2006

Today started  muddy, rainy, and cold (like it had
been every day for the last four weeks or more).  I
chill to the bone as the day goes on, if it is
overcast.  Today is not overcast, but I am still cold.
 We live in equatorial Africa, and it is not supposed
to be cold here.  I guess it isn’t by American
standards, but sixty degrees with rain and wind makes
it cold for us and enough to make our joints ache.  I
decided to take a hot bath to try to warm up.  (My
husband traveled several hours away to a fairly large
city to buy a bathtub and small hot water heater for
me, and I will always be grateful.) At 9:00 A.M.,
Edina (one of our workers), Felista (a friend), and I
planned to go to the Catholic Church for the
christening of Charleni.  Charles still does not feel
good from the malaria, and John doesn’t want to go. I
think he is still trying to get over his sadness from
the burial of Charleni’s fifteen-year-old mother,

We jumped in the car and headed off.  The Catholic
Church is very near our home and is high on the side
of the hills we look at from our house.  Knowing I
would have to climb a steep road in our car to get to
it, I put the car (a 1997 Nissan Patrol with
right-hand drive that has served three sets of
missionaries) in four wheel drive.  We had the only
car so I was not expecting to see too many people.
The church is huge by African standards and is in the
shape of a cross.  The ceiling was at least three
stories high with colossal windows  revealing a 360
degree view that was breathtaking.  Lake Victoria
seemed to be wearing a light fog like a veil out of
respect for the baptism.  By looking at the number of
people in the church, we should have seen a Wal-Mart
parking lot full of cars. 
This is an annual event and Mamas, na Babas, Bibis,
na Babus (mothers, fathers, grandmothers and
grandfathers) and babies were everywhere.  Two choirs
were lined up to process in.  The little girl’s choir
all had on yellow dresses that seem to glow against
their rich chocolate skin.  First, I found Juliana
(our housemother and the baby’s grandmother) and
greeted her.  Then I went back to sit with Felista and
Edina.  We observed the incense and bells and listened
to a long homily.  The choirs were just wonderful.  In
that huge open area, the sound just amplified and
praised our Lord.  I would have thought it would have
just echoed, but it filled the air with heavenly
sound.  The music just soared as did my spirits.  It
was very cleansing for all the grief I have been going
through.  I am learning how Tanzanians get their
strength.  One day maybe I will have their strength. 
When all was ready, those who were there to christen
their child came down.  My friends said I should go
with Juliana, so I did.  Wow!  The alter was full of
people all dressed up and full of pride for their
children.  Many children were crying, but they soon
stopped.  I just held onto Juliana’s arm as she held
that tiny small baby.  Juliana’s sister’s daughter was
there and had her daughter, Agnes, in her arms with a
pretty white dress on. We bought the dress weeks ago,
after Agnes survived the malaria that had put her in
the hospital. Agnes lives with Juliana and Juliana
stayed with Agnes in the hospital during her illness.

I was so glad to finally see Juliana smile today.  She
was so happy and ready to make her way in the world
again.  Determination had been her great strength and
I was afraid she might lose it, but she is strong in
her faith. 

When we were finished, after the service, lines were
gathering at the Christmas corner on the side of the
alter to take pictures.  This arrangement was
outrageously huge about five feet high and its floor
was at our shoulders near the Christmas tree. It was
full of greenery and sparkled with blinking, sparkling
and spinning lights all around the manger scene.  I
just had chills as I watched Juilana place Charleni on
the greenery at the foot of the crèche.  I started
thinking of Mary as she went through the same shame as
Graci had experienced before she died–trying to
explain why she was pregnant.  How strong Mary must
have been and this picture of Charleni at the feet of
Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus just gave holy
strength to this whole situation. And to think, I was
feeling kind of embarrassed about the Western
influence on this whole Christmas decoration when I
walked in.  The sadness from the death and burial was
still with me, but it had been overshadowed by the
holy joy of this very special day.

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November 29, 2006

Michael Grant on the AHS 61’s 45th class reunion…

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 11:22 pm

Friday, October 13, 2006

The 45th reunion

In the old days, high school reunions left me hung over. Today, they leave me hoarse.

At the 10th and 20th reunions, it was all about breaking into old cliques and drinking your way through your own personal high school highlight reels. Last week, at the 45th, it was all about talking to everybody with a nametag on, with a subtle double-clutch from the past into the present tense. There must have been 100 of us, and if we didn’t all talk to each other, it was because we ran out of time.

All those dipwads, the thumbnail photos of the faces in our senior class yearbook, Abilene, Texas, High School, Class of 1961. Beautiful dipwads, athletic ones, accomplished ones, most likely to succeed, and most likely never to be heard from again, ones. But still dipwads, barely damp with identity after three years in a West Texas high school adult factory.

Now, by God, they all have stories. Amazing stories, happy stories, sad stories, tough ones, routine ones, special ones, brave, even heroic ones, survival ones, triumphant ones, hopeful ones, all written on the road, all those strange highways, that brought us individually from 1961 back to Abilene in 2006. I guess we just had to wait for it. We didn’t have much to talk about, at the 10th and 20th reunions; we hadn’t had enough time yet. Now we have, and it was worth it. I have names, listed on an envelope, just to jog my memory of the fabulous things they said. Many people didn’t come, staying away from the way we used to be. They would have gone home wiser than they are now. But how were they to know?

Sweet, demure, Ellen Turner was there. She taught senior English; I was in her class. Now she’s 94, be 95 on Nov. 18, and I hope somebody in Abilene reading this will bring her flowers. Her best subject, she said, was math. She loved math, but she understood it so well that she didn’t want to teach it, because it would have been boring. I never knew that. She had a relative, a brother or a cousin – 45th-reunionists’ memories aren’t as dependable as they used to be – named Raymonde (I am almost positive she said it was spelled with an “e”) Howard, who was flying a C-47 over France on D-Day and was shot down and killed. Mrs. Turner remembers that as soon as she heard about the invasion on the radio in Abilene, she had an awful feeling that Raymonde had died. She told me how to find his grave, in the military cemetery at Normandy.

Mrs. Turner’s husband was the technician that wired together Abilene’s first television station, KRBC, in 1953. I never knew any of this. Later, he built the studio at KNIT Radio, the first station devoted to rock and roll in the 1950s in Abilene. A disc jockey at that station was Slim Willet, who affected hillbilly dress and accent and wrote unremarkable country songs, with the exception of “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” a national hit for Perry Como in 1954. Slim, whose real name was Winston Moore, actually was a smart man with a degree in English. “You know, Mrs. Turner, Slim Willet was actually an erudite man,” I said. “Yes,” she smiled, patiently, “I know.”

I am sorry now that Mrs. Turner may think the former student sitting next to her was named Gary. I had forgotten my nametag, and Molly Cline, the reunionmeister, wouldn’t let me go through the lunch line without one. So off her registration table, I selected Gary Hooker. I wanted Cathy Cox, but Molly wouldn’t let me have it. I had earlier introduced myself to Mrs. Turner as “Michael,” but when I sat down next to her, she said, “Hello, Gary, how are you?”

I stayed with Bob and Marilyn Cluck. When we were in high school, Bob’s mom always seemed to have a lemon icebox pie made when I came over to their house. Last week, Marilyn had a lemon icebox pie ready. A thoughtful thing to do. Bob and I went to the Dixie Pig for breakfast Saturday morning; my uncle Clyde used to take me there for pancakes every Saturday morning when he got back from World War II, in 1946. I bought a couple of Dixie Pig t-shirts – I brag often to my wife, Karen, about the Pig – but I left the damn things in the back of the rental car. At the 45th reunion, we were all starting to slow down.

Passing our our dear classmate, Sharon Sanderson Wolda (loss of our 64th classmate)

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 12:26 am


Shari Wolda , 64


November 26, 2006, in a Waco hospital.

Shari Wolda
October 25, 1942 – November 26, 2006

Sharon “Shari” Sanderson Wolda, 64 of Hewitt passed away on Sunday night, November 26, at a local hospital.

Services will be at 11 am Wednesday, Nov. 29, at the First Baptist Church of Woodway, 101 Ritchie Road, with the Rev. Mike Toby officiating.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 pm Tuesday at the OakCrest Funeral Home, 4520 Bosque Blvd.

Shari was born on October 25, 1942 in Abilene to Herman and Aubry (Witte) Sanderson. She married the love of her life, Charles on March 9, 1974 and together they had two wonderful children that meant everything to her.

Shari grew up in Abilene, then graduated from Texas Tech. She has served in Baylor University Development Department since 1988 where she has made many significant contributions. As Assistant to the Vice President of Development, she was a model for all when it came to diligence, professionalism and unflagging commitment to her co-workers, as well as to the important mission of providing resources to support all aspects of the university.

In 1997 Shari received Baylor University’s Outstanding Staff Award and in 2005 the Tom Z. Parrish Outstanding Development Professional award. Her heart was in helping Baylor students to achieve their full potential. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Woodway.

Shari is survived by her husband, Charles of Hewitt; daughter, Ashley Wolda and boyfriend, Jeremy Sanders of Dallas; son, Joe Wolda of Hewitt; sister, Bobbie Hughes and husband, Al of Odessa; great niece, Emily Fowler; great-great niece, Bella McCarroll, all of Dallas; nephews, Ty Fowler of Dallas and Tab Fowler of Austin; and many cousins and friends.

Shari will always be loved and remembered as a truly special wife, mother, sister and friend.
The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, gifts be made to the Baylor University General Scholarship Fund in Memory of Shari Wolda, One Bear Place Box 97026; Waco, TX 76798-7026.

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Service Schedule 

Visitation Date: 

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 

Visitation Time: 

6-8 pm 

Visitation Location: 

OakCrest Funeral Home  [Map]

Service Date: 

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 

Service Time: 

11 a.m. 

Service Location: 

First Baptist Church of Woodway 

Additional Info: 

101 Ritchie Rd, Woodway, TX 76712 

Burial Location: 

Waco Memorial Park  [Map]

November 20, 2006

Rememberance of Doug Beyer by his friend, Spencer Taylor

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 9:27 pm

The service was nothing different than any other service except that it was my friend being buried and I missed him greatly. Counting Doug and me there were 5 people there that were in my wedding party 41 yrs ago that day.The others being Doug’s cousin Ronny Beyer, our classmate Richard Crowell and a friend named Herluth Faulks.
Doug and I met the summer of 1958. He was delivering papers for the Reporter News and I had the route next to his. We were finished delivering our routes and were both behind Throntons on so 14th and Barrow stealing a stalk of banana’s and donuts. We had been doing that all summer but never at the same time until that day. He was riding a cushman eagle and I was on a sears scooter. After that we met every morning except Sunday until school started. For some reason we stayed friends for the rest of our lives. We sometimes went years without seeing one another but always stayed in touch by Christmas cards. Doug ‘s wife Betty, was great at keeping us informed about what was going on with their family and Gayle would do the same. When he retired in 2000 at

brownwood we got back together and saw each other often. He and Betty came to
Colorado to visit us in the summer and we spent a couple of New years eve’s with them. We met at different places to eat during the year and I know I really looked forward to our times together. One thing is for sure, I am really going to miss him! 

November 13, 2006

Death of AHS 61 Classmate, Doug Beyer, 11/11/06: Obit (loss of 63rd classmate)

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 3:42 pm


Doug Beyer

Netherton Funeral Home
Sunday, November 12, 2006

BeyerByron Douglas Beyer of Lake Brownwood, formerly of Pampa,Texas, passed away Saturday,

November 11, 2006, at his home

surrounded by family and friends.

Funeral services will be Monday, November 13, at 2 p.m. in the Grace Lutheran Church in Brownwood,

Texas, with Pastor Carroll Kohl

officiating. Interment will follow in the Fairview Cemetery, Grosvenor, Brown County, Texas under the

direction of the Netherton Funeral Home. The family will

receive friends at the Grace Lutheran Church, 1401 First Street on Sunday, November 12, from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M.

Byron Douglas Beyer was born October 17, 1942 in Abilene, Texas to Libert Alois and Ruth Standard Beyer. He graduated from Abilene High School in 1961 and attended McMurry

University and Odessa College. Doug married Betty Kathlene Moore at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Abilene, Texas., on August 5, 1966. They lived in Odessa and Pampa, Texas, prior to their move to Brownwood in 2000. While living in Odessa and Pampa, Doug worked for El Paso Products and Lubrication Service, Inc.. He was an active member of the Grace Lutheran Church in Brownwood. Doug spent his leisure time hunting, fishing, and perfecting his outdoor cooking skills. Favorite times were spent with his children, grandchildren, friends and extended family.

Doug is survived by his wife of forty years, Betty Kathlene Moore Beyer of Lake Brownwood, Texas; two sons, Scott Beyer and wife, Traci, and their children Emmalee and Zachary of

Abilene, Texas; and Jeff Beyer and wife, Angie, and their

children, Cody and Kinley of Pampa, Texas. Also surviving are brothers, James Beyer of Indian Gap, Texas and Daryl Beyer and wife, Sandy, of Hewitt, Texas; one sister, Gay Nell Kayali and husband, Kal, of Roswell, Georgia; one sister-in-law, Phyllis

Walters and her husband Alan, of Escondido, California; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Libert Alois and Emily Ruth Standard Beyer; sister, Frances Elaine Beyer;

brother, John David Beyer; maternal grandparents, Marvin and Lilly May Franks Standard; and paternal grandparents, Louis

Anton and Mary Henretta Vyvial Beyer.

Netherton Funeral Home

1914 Indian Creek Road

Brownwood, Texas 76801


October 13, 2006

10/13 news re Doug Beyer, AHS 61…

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 2:10 pm

Please read the e mail from Betty below… and please send Doug a birthday card, even if you don’t know him.

Also, I would suggest you write him an e-mail and ask Betty to read it to him, especially if you knew Doug in high school.  When Jeron Stevens, now deceased, was in the hospital for a liver transplant in 2000 classmates did this and sent them to me and I took them to the hospital and would read them to him and then Rena, his wife, later made a scrapbook for his family of them and still has them… it won’t take you that long.  Though tears were shed by many as the letters were read at the hospital, it meant a lot to Jeron and I’m sure it will to Doug Beyer.  Thanks. JO

—– Original Message —–

From: Betty Beyer

To: John Odam

Sent: Thursday, October 12, 2006 8:10 PM

Subject: Recent News on Doug

Doug will have radiation therapy through next Friday, October 20, after which he will come home 

under Hospice care.  He feels pretty good and his spirits are remarkable under the circumstances.  So far, there is no activity in his feet or legs and hope for that is waning.  

On the lighter side, next Tuesday, October 17, he will celebrate his 64th birthday!  I thought it might be fun to have a birthday card shower.  So if you have a minute and want to, just send him a card to the address below, and I’ll be sure he gets it on his special day.   OR, the hospital address is:  Doug Beyer–Room 514

      Brownwood Regional Medical Center

        1501 Burnet Drive

        Brownwood, Texas  76801

Love to you all. 

­Betty and Doug Beyer  111 Cove Circle  Brownwood, Texas 76801  Home:  325-784-5181  Cell:     325-200-8416  bdbeyer@pegasusbb.com

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