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home : letters : letters May 24, 2016

3/19/2013 9:44:00 AM
Threnody for Three Fine Women

To the Editor:

It would be nice, when you leave this world, if you could sort of have it like a performance. You give a brilliant rendition of yourself, and at the finale receive a thunderous ovation. You take a bow in front of the foot lights, throw a kiss to the audience, receive a bouquet of flowers, bow once more and exit back through the drapes, and are gone. No encores for this performance. Well, it doesn’t work out that way.

If they are lucky, the end of life is with family nearby. Peers are long since gone and age has taken its toll. The end is often sudden and there is no applause. That’s why I’d like to offer my admiration and “applause” for three fine women who’ve recently left us.

Evie Johnson was one of the first people I met in the Lakeland area. She was Henry Ashe’s nurse at the Lakeland Medical Associates office next to the old hospital. Evie was ever-cheerful, totally competent and professional. By coincidence, she receive her nurse’s training at Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, Ill., where I had my tonsils out as a little boy, and where, many years later, my daughter, Adrian, was born. She was a nurse and woman in the finest sense. In winter she occasionally rode her snowmobile to the office and changed into her nurse’s uniform after taking off her snowmobile suit. Year-round she wore a button on her uniform saying, “After the fourth of July, Think Snow!!” A devoted mother and wife, she raised her children well. She loved her “David” with the kind of devotion you hear about, but seldom see. Retired, she couldn’t stay away from people and worked as a greeter at Wal-Mart. We always found the time to exchange pleasantries and talk of the past when I met her at the store. I’m sure she must have worked to the end. There are few or, none like her today. Evie, I miss you!

Mary Pukall suffered a grievous ailment that left her severely handicapped. But, in all the years I knew her, I never heard a complaint or regret. She played an important role at the lumber company bearing the Pukall name. Side-by-side with her husband, Roger, she helped build an extraordinarily successful business. I asked Mary to serve on the board of Northwoods Rehabilitation Associates. He input was invaluable. She knew how the handicapped felt and she was a great advocate for their care and rehabilitation, although she gave little thought to her own disability. She was far more concerned that others, maybe less incapacitated than her, receive the kind of care they needed at a cost they could afford. In this regard she and Roger were endlessly generous with donations from their family foundation that went directly to help those in need. 

You were a grand woman, Mary, and I was privileged to know and work with you over the years. I shall never forget you.

Miriam Roe was a member of what I’m proud to call my “Extended Family.” The Roes and the Vickerstaffs were an integral part of our social milieu. The remaining elders and children remain so to this day. Miriam was, too, a devoted wife and mother. She raised two fine children, and when her son, Guy, settled here after marrying Katie Vickestaff, she and her husband, Bud, retired to the area and became active contributing members of the community. 

Miriam absolutely adored her grandchildren, Molly and Andy Roe. She was with us long enough to welcome her first great-grandchild. She lived a long, productive and praiseworthy life. In all the years I knew her, I never heard an ill word of any kind regarding anything or anybody ... with the possible exception of her golf game when it wasn’t up to her standards. 

Miriam, we loved you and will see you always as the caring, loving woman you were.

George T. Anast, M.D.

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