The pelican papers

A big bird’s eye view

New year’s greetings from Mary and Ron

Posted by Ron George on December 30, 2010

Dear family and friends,

Kathleen Sherwood, Christmas 2006, Corpus Christi

Katz at ease: Christmas 2006, Corpus Christi, Texas

A long, well-lived life came to an end Dec. 28 with the death at age 95 of Mary’s mother, Kathleen Sherwood, in Corpus Christi. Kathleen’s ashes will be interred on Saturday, Jan. 8, in Port Arthur, Texas, beside the grave of her husband of 56 years, Nelson McCallum Sherwood.

Her death was attended by her son Edwin and grandson William, who had come from Lake Charles, La., as well as Mary and Ron. Kathleen died peacefully. She had received the last rites of her beloved Roman Catholic faith, and within 30 minutes, she was gone. The priest, the Rev. Bill Marquis, returned immediately to Cimarron Place to commend her body to God before it was taken to the funeral home. In a matter of minutes, this fine, young minister had endeared himself to our family.

Kathleen was somewhat frail when she moved to Corpus Christi early in 2007 from Lake Charles, La., where she had lived since 2003, but she was able to get around her apartment complex with a walker, do her laundry and prepare some meals in her small kitchen. Over the past four years, however, her health slowly declined despite her indomitable spirit. She prized visits by family and friends, sunshine, outdoor walks, a certain tomato plant and three square meals a day. In her final months, she was ably attended by Elsa and Sasha Flores, who admired and respected her life’s accomplishments and lessons. Katz often wondered aloud why God had let her live so long. Elsa once replied that perhaps it was so she could know Kathleen: Elsa is now reunited with her husband, from whom she’d been divorced for 10 years, largely on the basis of Kathleen’s counsel and advice.

Kathleen was blessed in her final months by visits in October by her daughter Celia, who lives in Los Angeles, Calif.; and at Thanksgiving by her grandchildren Joan O’Burke and Donnie Couvillon and great-grandson Jeremy O’Burke. Joanie brought pies from home in Beaumont to complement the full-bore Thanksgiving meal Mary prepared then transported to Cimarron Place for a family dinner in a hospitality room at the nursing home – roast turkey, dirty-rice and cornbread dressings, green beans and homemade rolls.

Katz' daughter Mary presents her with an archival photo of Katz' mother for her 95th birthday, 2010

Mary gives Katz a photo of her mother for her 95th birthday

Another ending came to pass in December as Kris George, Matthew’s wife, completed her master’s degree in education administration at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. It took two years of true grit for Kris and her family, but graduation day was ecstatically beautiful, perfect for the gracious reception in Plano prepared by Kris’ parents, Kathy and Marty Bruce. Ron’s mother Martha George and Ron were blessed to attend graduation ceremonies and enjoy the Bruce’s hospitality. Another plus: They spent two nights in Richland Hills with Martha’s sister, Reba Nell Migues – Aunt Ricki – for a second time in as many months. They had gone to Fort Worth in November to visit Ron’s family when his son Joseph flew in from the United Kingdom to visit his mother, Sharon George, who was recovering from a stroke earlier in the year. (Sharon has recovered sufficiently to return to work. She plans to begin driving again in the near future.) Incidentally, Joseph, his wife Christina and son Ethan are headed home in January after three years in the UK. They will be returning to Fort Gordon, Ga., where they met while Joseph was still in the Army. Christina is an Air Force language specialist. Her language? Farsi. Pretty impressive, huh?

Hold on to your hats, there’s more. Son Geoffrey and Michelle Thompson will have tied the knot by the time you receive this message. This lovely couple stole away in late December to take their vows on a beach in the Bahamas, but there will be a wedding reception in Fort Worth on Jan. 16, which promises to be quite a bash. Michelle is an equity actor who teaches theater arts in a Fort Worth private school. She’s about this tall – imagine thumb and forefinger just slightly apart – and is, well, adorable by any measure. If you don’t believe us, just ask Geoffrey. We’re looking forward to their spring-break vacation in Corpus Christi in March.

Geoffrey George and Michelle Thompson at Doc's restaurant, Corpus Christi, March 2010

Michelle & Geoffrey: Adorable

Even more good news this December: Daughter Shanna Brown will return in January to Alcon Labs in Fort Worth with a full-time position. The tail-spinning economy robbed her of her last full-time niche at Alcon early in 2009. She got back on the part-time payroll in May, then someone at Alcon finally realized the company’s original mistake – letting Shanna go in the first place. Otherwise, all is well in the Brown household as Kenny continues to cultivate his son Jonah’s considerable athletic skill. There’s even odds that the boy will one day be taller than both of his altitude-blessed parents; and of course, he will one day play for the Longhorns.

And thank God Elizabeth’s husband, Chris McCafferty, is home from his Army-reserve tour of duty in Iraq. Ron and his mom spent a little time with Elizabeth and Chris during Joseph’s visit. Chris is looking lean and mean as ever, able as always at the barbecue pit; but best of all, he hasn’t lost his bantering sense of humor. What a trip to be at the table with Chris, Joseph and Geoffrey. Ach, meine liebe, most of that conversation went way over this old man’s head, but there was no misunderstanding the good-natured laughter and sheer joy in the family that Chris had returned whole from the war zone.

The family yay-factor went sky high on Nov. 1 when granddaughter Caitlin’s Argyle High School marching band took top state honors in 3-A competition in San Antonio. Ron and his mom were in the stands with Kris and Kathy for preliminary competition, and we shrieked right along with all those other Argyle supporters when the band made the finals. We weren’t there for the final round but heard right away from Matthew and Kris that Argyle had taken first place. No shrieking this time, but we were happy and proud as could be.

Mary’s position as chief of staff at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi kept her busy as ever playing goalie for the university president while making regular trips to Austin and College Station for meetings of the state higher-education coordinating board and A&M system regents. The hours are arduous but the work rewarding. She and her crew delivered a signed and sealed BoldFuture action plan April 21 after more than two years of fund-raising, organizing and prodding hundreds of volunteer contributors to the plan. It’s a vision of what our city and region might become based on community consensus drawn from dozens of grassroots meetings. It was a gift of community service for Mary and her buddies Claudia Jackson, Mary McQueen and Debbie Lindsey-Opel. Countless others were involved, of course, but the impetus came from Dr. Sweetie Pie et al. There’s was a giant sigh of relief when the final report was delivered.

Chris McCafferty with a buddy in Iraq, 2010

On duty: Chris, left, and a buddy in Iraq

Ron’s job as a technical writer at the university is about to come to an end. Since 2006, he’s been working on the Pulse!! project, which has achieved its research goals and soon will shut down as will the university’s Office of Special Projects on March 31. Odds are good that Ron will find another position at the university, but there were no guarantees by year’s end. The state budget crunch may foreclose any chance of new hiring at A&M-Corpus Christi and other agencies throughout Texas. We’re hopeful though somewhat apprehensive.

Mary and Ron managed to get away for a hill-country vacation in late April. Plans for a star party and overnight stay at McDonald Observatory had to be scrapped due to car trouble, but we landed on our feet after a long side trip to Odessa, where we’d hoped to get the old Honda repaired. We took some photos along the way, and there’s an account of our itinerary, planned and otherwise, here. Suffice to say, it was great; it could have been better, but it also could have been much worse.

We live in hope that the coming year will bear blessings for our nation and our world, but most of all for our dear family and friends without whom the past year might have left us worse for the wear. Thank you for enriching our lives with your love and concern, your friendship and support.

Sincerely and with gratitude,

Mary Sherwood & Ron George

Mary and Ron on a walk at Settlers' Crossing, April 2010

Mary and Ron at Settlers’ Crossing, Fredericksburg



One Response to “New year’s greetings from Mary and Ron”

  1. Jean Willard said

    Ron, thanks for all your news and messages. Jean

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