The pelican papers

A big bird’s eye view

Christmas season’s greetings from Mary and Ron

Posted by Ron George on January 2, 2009

xpmas-poinsettiaDear Family and Friends, 

All is well with us in Corpus Christi, Texas. We’re a little older and perhaps a bit wiser. Mary often works 70-hour weeks for the people of Texas as Chief of Staff in the president’s office at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her most time-consuming project is “BoldFuture for the Coastal Bend,” a community visioning project being sponsored by the university and Del Mar College. She’s gearing up for a big community event at the end of February as well as Texas’ biennial silly season when the legislators return to Austin in January. 

Ron is somewhat underemployed — well, it feels that way after decades of newspaper work . Still, he’s engaged in some fascinating research as a technical writer in the university’s Office of Special Projects. We’ve been back in this town, where we met and married more than a quarter-century ago, since 2006; and we’re pleased to report that it’s wonderful to be back here after so many years in Aggieland. 

We’ve got some catching up to do, because we didn’t send out a letter last year. Kathleen Sherwood (aka Katz), Mary’s mom, moved to Corpus Christi two years ago from Lake Charles, La., where she had lived since 2003 after spending most of her lengthy adult life in Port Arthur, Texas. At 93, she’s a little frail and blind but charmingly alert and a stalwart among the usual suspects who gather with some regularity at Ron’s mom’s house for dinner and fellowship. 

Martha, Ron’s mom, is 85 and has been fishing for redfish and trout lately with Capt. Steve Utley, Ron’s bro-in-law, Sue’s husband and maestro of Blue Heron Adventures. It’s getting to where she doesn’t appreciate being left ashore while Steve goes out and catches the big ones!

At Elizabeth's wedding, 2007: Ron needed a shave!

At Elizabeth’s wedding, 2007: Ron needed a shave!

Sue will be retiring from public-school teaching this month, and she was overheard saying recently that no one but no one better get between her and her pottery studio after she retires. Sue’s been a teacher about a year longer than Mary and Ron have been together. She’s gotten her scars — and earned our respect — for that honorable service.

Deb Nivens, Ron’s sister Reba’s partner, has retired, but of course now works longer and harder than ever manufacturing jewelry and tending their wonderfully fruitful yard and gardens. Reba is rising among the ranks of the city’s parks and recreation department, and has begun a master’s degree program in public administration at TAMU-CC.

Ron’s on the verge of completing his doctoral program (DMin) at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. If his final project is signed, sealed and delivered by the end of March, and if he passes his oral exam by the end of April, he’ll walk on May 23. It’s taken six years, including an 18-month layoff for the move to Corpus Christi in 2006. He’s hoping there’s a book and some articles to come from the final project. After that, who knows?

The hurricanes keep missing us, and we’re thankful for that, although one came near enough this year for us to evacuate Katz to Austin, where she stayed with her son John Sherwood. Folks in Brownsville weren’t so lucky, including Shanna’s in-laws, husband Kenny’s brother and his family, who were in the thick of Hurricane Dolly. Shanna and Kenny came through town with their baby boy, Jonah, on their way to help the Southmost Browns clean up after the storm. The trip wasn’t especially harrowing, but was a real eye-popper for Shanna, who’d never seen what damage even a minor hurricane can do.

Martha and one fine speckled trout

Martha and one fine speckled trout

Shanna’s big brother, Matthew, and his famly — Kris, Caitlin and Kylie — spent some Christmas time with us last month. Both are teachers in the Denton area. Caitlin is a trombonist and budding naturalist who partook deeply of Capt. Steve’s knowledge of our local bays, carting home several bags full of choice shells.

Daughter Elizabeth was caught up in a major round of teacher layoffs in Dallas last year but has landed on her feet with a substitute gig closer to home through the spring that may go full-time by next fall. We’re keeping our fingers crossed. Elizabeth loves to teach; better yet, she loves the kids she teaches.

We’re hoping to visit son Joseph and his wife, Christina, and their new addition, Ethan Thomas George, in Harrogate, UK, next fall. We’ve also got some sites to see in Faversham, the Sherwoods’ ancestral stomping grounds; so, we’ll make our way from the southeast to the midlands over the 10 days we plan to be there. We just might visit a few churches along the way. Y’think? 

We hope and pray that this message finds you in good health and prosperity, and in any case blessed by the presence of God in Christ, whose incarnation we commemorate in these blessed days.

As we say a lot in South Texas, “Adios,” which doesn’t mean “good-bye” but “go with God.”

Hasta el ano proximo.


9 Responses to “Christmas season’s greetings from Mary and Ron”

  1. Dear Ron and Mary,
    Thanks so much for sharing your Xmas letter with me!!
    I retired from the VA on October 31. Spent Xmas in Brooklyn and New York city with Sean, Allison, his wife and also with Katy, who flew in from Austin Xmas Eve and was able to stay until the Sunday after. (I got to stay a bit longer).
    Sean is doing exactly what he said that he would do in New York and is networking himself well. He came as a member of Equity and this is helpful in terms of getting him auditions, etc. He is also interning with a theater company and has just had a showcase, in which he was seen by a number of New York agents. So we’ll see…
    Allison is working as an Assistant Manager of the Anthropologie Store at Rockefellar Center…her 2nd job is helping Sean to market himself. She is a social worker by training and this comes very naturally to her. I really like her and I am so glad that she and Sean were in Austin last year so that I could really get to know her and form a relationship.
    (She and Sean came to know each other in Chicago three years ago).
    Katy continues to work at the YMCA in Roundrock and in charge of four afterschool programs. She has her own apartment and has just become the mother of Sammy, a very cute little mutt that seemed to have come her way. (did I mention Sean and Allison’s ‘baby’, Lily, a six year old poodle).
    I am currently teaching an Introduction to Social Work Class at Del Mar in the evening and work one day a week at a nursing home in Refugio. I believe that I have sold my house and, if so, will be out by a week from this coming Monday. I plan to live for the time being in a wonderful little house next to the home of Marty Triplett. I’m excited about the change and the downsizing.
    I want to spend my time traveling, learning and doing some art and exploring whatever else I want to explore. Life is exciting and I feel very blessed to continue to be in this community and to have my chldren and I in the positive places that we are today.
    Have a blessed ‘2009!
    Janet Neely

  2. Don Dunlap said

    Ron and Mary, Thanks so much for sharing this with me. Every family should do this. I really loved the information about Martha’s fishing skills. I think that’s wonderful….made me feel good!
    Best wishes in 2009.
    Don Dunlap

  3. Shanna Brown said

    Dad! I love the pictures. We, too, hope to go see Joseph, Christina, and Ethan soon. The Fort Worth Browns send their love….

  4. Ron, thanks for sharing your Christmas letter with me. I really enjoyed your sentiments, even if I couldn’t quite figure our who everyone was! I loved the photos, especially of your stalwart mother!
    Blessings to you and Mary,

  5. Peter Bower said


    THANKS so much for your Xmas greetings, family tidbits and, especially, for all the nifty URLs. Go, go, go toward completing that D.Min. Shall think of you come May.

    Grace and Peace,

  6. Good to hear from Ron. Sorry I’m not sure who all the others mentioned are. One of the joys of Christmas was seeing Bill Leeson (see above) while visiting son Sam in the LA area. Jane and I continue to be very mobile for people our age. May all of you have a wonderful New Year.

  7. Patsy Durham said

    How very beautiful, great photos, wonderful sentiments eloquently expressed! I reeeeeeally enjoyed this.

  8. Charlotte Otto said

    This is a great format! It’s really great to see your family pictures, especially your Mom! More power to you all glad Sue is finally getting out of the isd work & on to her pottery. Which is what my daughter does. She just graduated with a BA in Art from UTSA. (focus pottery)

  9. Bill Leeson said

    Hey Ron George,
    Good to hear from you. I retired two years ago and am now assisting at St. Mark’s, Glendale, CA. I like retirement. I will be in Puerto Rico for the rest of the month of January, but will return Feb. 2. Keep in touch. Conincidentally, I had lunch with two “kids” from St. James, West Bend, today; Dirk Hausmann and Caroline Birdsall. They are visiting So. Cal. with their respective spouses. The “kids” are 53 and 54 years old now! Peace. Bill Leeson

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