Simple Gifts

I was just reflecting, today, on what I was doing this time last year.

I remember, fondly, visiting with my friend, Thelma, who I had not had the opportunity to visit with for many years.

My European Buddies, Jeff and Margo, had asked me if I could help Margo’s mother, Thelma, to set up an iPad that they were going to purchase for her for Christmas.  I told them that I would be very pleased to do so.

Jeff, first contacted me while Mary Jane and I were at an Art Show in St. Louis, Missouri..and I was reminded of the wonderful time that we had with them in our tour of the United Kingdom,just, that past August.


When I was a mere lad…and Thelma was just a little older…I spent many enjoyable meals at her table and was struck with her kindness to me.  She caused me to feel as if I was a member of her family.

This time, last December, is the anniversary of Mary Jane and I falling on some ice as we were leaving our lovely niece’s birthday celebration.

When we entered the Winery where the festivities were taking place, the sidewalks and roadways were clear and when we exited there had fallen a nice sheet of ice.

After my fall…I noticed that it was very difficult for me to breath for several minutes…but I was certain that I merely was bruised.

No need for a Doctor.

After a day and night of constant pain and muscles spasms that occurred every minute or two…I decided a Doctor’s visit would be in order.

Three fractured ribs, later, and some good drugs for pain and muscle relaxants, I survived…but there is not a day that I am not aware of my old ribs Christmas Injury.

Jonathon and I walked the SIU Campus earlier today.


I remembered Christmas Seasons from many years gone by on Campus.

Former Campus President, John Guyon and his wife, Joyce, had a Madrigal Christmas Dinner and commensurate celebration for many years at the Student Center.

I recall, with a tinge of nostalgia, my old friend Jo Ann’s Christmas Luncheon that she had for all of the University Community…the Christmas that she was Chancellor.

I recall the renewed hope and excitement that we all felt for our great Learning Institution.

I remember when the University began the policy of closing between the Christmas Holiday and the New Year Holiday and staff received six to seven days of Holiday’s and the Pay to accompany them.  This is still the practice of the Campus and it is a wonderful time to rest and rejuvenate and recharge for the upcoming year.


I was amazed and so very impressed when, Vice President Clarence ‘Doc’ Dougherty, came to Building Services little Christmas Dinner and took the time to shake hands and speak with every Building Service Worker and Building Custodian and Foreman in the room.

I remember driving our brand new Ford LTD, 2 door sedan, to my mother and stepfather’s and we had nice gifts for them and I had a good job as a new Building Service Worker I in 1978.

Before that Mary Jane and I had struggled financially and at one point in our new marriage I had been out of work altogether.  What a Christmas Blessing SIU was to us!


I had a two year tradition of visiting my friend and the Chancellor of SIUC on the last day of work prior to Christmas.  In the afternoon I would go to Anthony Hall and visit Dr. Beggs in his offices at Anthony.

I would find the Chancellor at the receptionist desk…answering the telephone…because he had sent all of his staff home for the Holidays.


On the second year of the two year tradition…Dr. Margaret Winters and her husband Geoff Nathan came in to wish the Chancellor Christmas happiness.

Chancellor Beggs introduced me to both of them and then told them that he and I had a tradition of getting together on the last work day of the year and talking about the past year.

Chancellor Beggs and his wonderful wife, Shirley, made me feel like I was as important as anyone on the Campus.




These photos are of a painting that Chancellor Beggs and Shirley gave me before they left the Campus at the conclusion his two year appointment as Chancellor.

The painting was originally commissioned for Dr. Beggs father and hung in the Credit Union that he managed, for many years.

It later hung in Dr. Beggs College of Education Dean’s Office for the entire time that he was the Dean and then in his Anthony Hall office for the two years that he was the Chancellor of the Campus.

I was humbled and gratified when he and Shirley gave the painting to me.


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