Saturday, August 01, 2009
THE DON MYERS MEMORIAL IN MISSOURI
On Saturday the 25th of July, Carley got the call that her best friend Peachy's dad had been critically injured in a bicycle accident. A few days later, we found ourselves dropping everything, loading up the car, and making the 6-hour roadtrip to Rolla, Missouri.
Dr. Don Myers was a professor of engineering management at the local Missouri University of Science and Technology, and he was obviously well-loved and respected by a whole lot of people. Around 700 attended his visitation on Thursday the 30th, with hundreds lined up out the door of the church over the course of several hours. The eulogies at the memorial service Friday morning were tremendously stirring and inspiring, with story after story of Don's unequivocal generosity toward everyone he met and his relentless pursuit of a broad range of causes, from supporting young entrepeneurs to chairing various committees promoting social justice. Click here for a newspaper article with more info about Don Myers and a scholarship in his name.
Despite the circumstances, it was rewarding for Carley to be able to spend some time with Peachy. It was also good to catch up with some of Carley and Peachy's mutual friends from their days together at Vanderbilt and in San Francisco who had made the trip to be with Peachy during her mourning. Peachy herself drove in from Washington D.C., where she's been serving as the White House liaison to the Corporation for National and Community Service.
It was also good to meet little Cooper (15 months), here with his mom Brandi (Peachy's sister-in-law).
Rowan and Cooper loved playing together, despite the 18-month difference in age. Rowan was eager to teach Cooper about sharing the ball and tenacious in keeping him involved in a game of "catch". This photo is striking in the tangible way that it really captures how much Rowan has grown over the past year-and-a-half.
Our accommodations for the short two-night stay in Rolla couldn't have been better. We stayed in a guest bedroom at the Sowers, family friends who live in a beautiful house across the street from Peachy's mom. Big thanks to the Sowers for their generosity and hospitality!
As for Rolla itself, it was like a little slice of "Middle America". Despite the university and the location alongside I-44, Rolla really has a quaint small town feel, with its population about 16,000 and less than 3% black. There weren't even any Mexicans working at the local Mexican restaurant! Wierd. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Leonna's Kitchen (above left), which retained an odor of cigarrette smoke despite the no-smoking signs posted all over the walls.
This place has it all! Carley would probably have checked out a class here if we'd had more time.
Our favorite find in Rolla was the tiny Giddy Goat Coffee House. Their excellent selection of fair-trade organic coffees and teas and their unique delicious lunch plates, a cross between Midwest and Middle East, make Giddy Goat worth stopping if you're anywhere in the area!
The drive to Rolla was a solid 6 hours each way, taking us through the eastern Ozarks, the Arkansas delta, and the city of Memphis with its pile-ups of construction-induced traffic jams funded by Obama stimulus funds.
Along the way, we had to pass through some locales that come across as not-so-friendly, especially some of those dry hillbilly counties in northern Arkansas. The sign above was just outside Ravenden, Arkansas, across the road from a large confederate flag.
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