Nine Lives & One Crazy Cat
“Live life to the fullest!” We’ve all heard that expression before—more often than not, from family and friends who seem to derive great pleasure in dangling it in front of us, like catnip, when they know full well that it’s hopelessly out of reach.
Oh sure! We all stalk the ever-elusive joie de vivre, but precious few actually capture it: Linda Rankin being one of them. In fact, she’s packed enough living into 50 some odd, some not so odd, years that she could fill nine lives and several back issues of Life magazine.
“One Life To Live” began in Bradford, Pennsylvania about 99 miles southeast of Niagara Falls, the ”Honeymoon Capital of the World.” While these majestic falls are famous for barrel rolls and heart-shaped tubs, Bradford, PA doesn’t mean a hill of beans or diddly-squat. Why even the most patriotic townsfolk, like the Rankin clan, readily admit that it means ZIPPO.
Billy Joel made it abundantly clear that “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” Bradford’s largest employer, Zippo Lighters did. Millions of them. Just ask any Boy Scout, chain-smoker or Lynyrd Skynyrd fan. A pretty risky proposition, don’t you think? After all, the Allegheny National Forest is only 12 miles away as the burning ember flies.
Linda The Flower Child
By all accounts, Linda Rankin was a Flower Child of the 60s. Not the peace loving, hitchhiking, skinny-dipping, pot smoking, war protesting type, rather the violet collecting, trillium planting, and mandrake-cultivating variety.
From an early age, Linda loved flowers, a harmless addiction. But what really turned her on to botany was her Mom’s passion for Trailing arbutus and her stash of Time/Life Science books, the contents of which she inhaled on the living room floor. The only thing she really protested was being cooped up inside. Like her counterculture counterparts, she searched for ways to expand her mind…through knowledge as opposed to psychedelics.Linda The Marine
At eight, Linda was shipped off to boot camp at the Callahan Park Municipal Pool, where her drill instructor (aka diving coach) must’ve realized that she was going through a phase, trading the sweet scent of flowers for the antiseptic odor of chlorine. During those impressionable years, her interests drifted toward marine life: you know, sharks and minnows, cannonballs, and that age-old favorite, Marco Polo. No, SEAL training for her.
Then suddenly, her life was turned upside down, with a half twist thrown in for good measure. And yet, somehow with her cat-like reflexes, Linda always managed to land on her feet. Unless a particular dive required her entering the water headfirst, then she obliged by knifing through the surface with deadly accuracy.
By the age of 12, she had had several scrapes with, not the law, but the local diving board. While attempting to execute a reverse dive or gainer, her fingertips inevitably scraped the end it. Ouch! A free manicure wasn’t the issue; however, the prospect of receiving a not-too-complimentary facial left something to be desired. So Little Miss Not Quite Perfect walked away from diving for good.
Well, things only went backwards from there. Her friends claim Linda spent countless hours staring blankly into space or at the ceiling, depending on whether she was indoors or out, as she honed her backstroke skills and dove into a swimming career, which extended well into her college years. Semper Fi.
Linda The Mathematician
Despite her life-long obsession with biology, Linda’s biological parents—Malcolm, a chemical engineer at Kendall Motor Oil and Helen, a former telephone operator for Ma Bell—convinced their daughter that biology was, in so many words, a game of Trivial Pursuit and steered her toward physics her freshman year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
That lasted about a nanosecond. According to Linda’s new Theory of Relativity, her GPA quickly entered a free fall while her interests gravitated toward mathematics. So much so, that after two years, she crossed the Pond to Scotland to finish up her Mathematics/Applied Numerical degree and sample some haggis. “A’m sairy! Did’ a tell ye Linda‘s ½ Scot? After she finished—her degree, not the haggis—she returned stateside to earn a master’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park.
Linda The International Spy
With her vast experience converting digital algorithms into analog accuracy data, Linda was lured into the intriguing world of underwater espionage for one reason alone—her ability to make “sound” decisions that could help the Navy detect the whereabouts of suspicious Soviet subs two miles beneath the ocean’s surface. Think “Hunt for Red October” with a $200 billion production budget. Apparently, the threat of Armageddon wasn’t challenging enough; so Linda spent the rest of her waking hours as an undercover electrical engineering student, picking up a master’s degree from Villanova in the process.
Linda The Locksmith
When the naval contract went south, Linda headed north to Cornell for post-graduate work in MicroBIOLOGY. Ah, yes! After a 15-year odyssey, the “circle of academic life” was complete. She accepted a post doctorate position at UTD, which involved setting up a new lab with a professor who recently joined the faculty from Georgia Tech. There, she learned to sweat the small stuff: single cell microbes with thousands of receptors. Assuming the role of a genetic locksmith, she searched for a key to unlock the mystery of several debilitating diseases.
Linda The Professor
Convinced that “It’s a Small World After All,” she caught the teaching bug in 2009, and with her infectious smile, began spreading her knowledge of germs and microbiology to students at Eastfield and Colin County Community Colleges. Her message to future generations: Every little bit helps…paint the big picture.
Linda The Rower
First impressions of Linda are that of a shy, petite unassuming woman. In fact, she didn’t come out of her shell until last Saturday, after four grueling hours chasing and beating the living daylights out of a bunch of kids twice her size and less than half her age. Hey, that’s the life of a competitive rower! Or, at least the one we all know. By the way, did you know that she distinguished herself this past summer by earning a coveted bronze medal in U.S. Rowing 2011 Masters National Championships? It’s no small wonder that this 5’1” dynamo’s been affectionately dubbed “The Hemi.” She’s got a huge, powerful engine that just won’t quit. Want proof? Check out the emotional carnage she’s left behind in her wake.
Linda The Ring Leader
It only seems fitting that a mathematician with a towering intellect—my words, not hers—and a limitless towing capacity would adopt change ringing as a pastime: pulling a two-ton church bell in a series of mathematical patterns or algorithm for hours on end. Linda more than pulls her weight around here. And her handiwork can be heard the world over, from the Old North Church in Boston, the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and St. Paul’s in Dundee, Scotland to the east coast of Australia and neighboring New Zealand.
Linda The Brewmeister
Another outside interest of hers that’s taken on a life of its own is home brewing. (Admittedly, she missed the lab work after finishing her postdoc at UTD.) While most domestic types are content to whip up a fresh batch of Betty Crocker brownies in 20 minutes, Linda the mad scientist spends weeks, even months bringing her creation to life: a case or so of thirst-quenching homebrewed beer. Her yet to be named microbiology microbrewery has produced an impressive stable of beers that would put the King of Beers and all the king’s horses to shame. Her private reserve includes stout, porter, Belgian style and India pale ale, as well as wit, hefewiezen, brown ale and saison - making her the life of the party at change ringing festivals and our St. Patrick’s Day Feast.
L’lguy The Crazy Cat
Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten the crazy cat part. With his distinctive clerical collar markings, “L’ilguy “ the cat was Linda’s ordained Minister of Mischief, mesmerized by swirling drains, enraptured by dangling shoestrings and consumed by foolish pride for his impressive collection of trophies (i.e. dead mice). Sadly, he's no longer with us. (That's Mandie Burris's main squeeze in the photo.)
Nine lives might suffice for most folks and Linda’s dearly departed, but this Episcopalian has her sites set on a loftier goal that’s well within reach: eternal life. Which might explain why Wonder Woman here has made her presence felt in the life of our church, whether it be calling Christians to worship, baking fresh bread for newcomers or supplying a refreshing round of beer. The name Linda Rankin rings true forever.
[Author’s note: My sincere apologies to the reader for the length of this piece. It’s hard enough trying to tell someone’s entire life story in 500 words or less, let alone nine of them.]
Mother and Daughter love to tri, tri again
If it doesn’t occur to you to link smallpox, September 11 and triathlons in the same thought, you aren’t alone. But for Linda Page, it makes perfect sense.
As an anesthesiologist at Baylor Hospital, this long-time Lakewood neighbor was a natural candidate to become a first responder trainee following the terrorist attacks on that infamous day 10 years ago. Part of the training required getting vaccinated for smallpox as that was considered a likely germ warfare threat. “I had already had the shot when I was a kid. I thought it wouldn’t be any big deal, so I volunteered,” Page said.
But later in that spring of 2003, something went wrong. Page, who practices medicine under her maiden name of Lutz, started feeling tired all the time and noticed her heart beating irregularly. A consultation with her cardiologist delivered a diagnosis: myopericarditis. Both her heart muscle and the pericardial sac surrounding it had become infected, a rare complication from getting the vaccine.
Never a serious athlete, Page began walking regularly to rebuild strength in her heart. But that got boring after a while.
“So I started to add a little running and eventually did a few 5Ks. I also started swimming with a friend in the Dallas Aquatic Masters program. I was in the slowest lane!” she laughed.
Meanwhile, her daughter, Lynette, was busy in dental school in New York. "I’d keep tabs on mom but didn’t think much of it. She kept telling me I ought to start swimming at the NYU pool,” she laughed. “But I did start running. It fit better with my crazy schedule because it was good, quick exercise.”Back in Dallas, Page decided to compete for the first time in a mini triathlon in the spring of 2004. “I wanted to try it just to say that I’ve done one, even though it was just a little one,” she said.
Lynette was just happy that her then 63-year-old mom ran, had fun and didn’t get hurt, but “was not too surprised. Mom is pretty determined.”
As Page’s skill increased, so did her appetite for conquest. In the triathlon world, Kona, Hawaii is Ground Zero for training and meeting fellow enthusiasts. That is where she met her current coach, Ahmed Zaher, back in January 2006. Since then, Page has done several half and full triathlons, including The Mother of Iron Man Triathlons: the Kona (twice!). A full Ironman race includes a 2.5-mile swim, 112-mile ride and 26 mile run.
When Lynette, a Lakehill Prep alum (’98) returned to Dallas following her 2008 graduation from dental school, she started training with her mom and entered her first triathlon in Denton with her mom as a spectator. Lynette’s husband, Anthony Vecchioni, does not race but is supportive as is Linda’s husband, John, and son, Jonathan.
The turning point came in Austin last October.
“I finished and was ready to leave, but mom said we should stay for the awards. I didn’t see any point in that. She said, ‘You never know!’” she laughed.Lo and behold, none of the top winners in Lynette’s age category stayed around to claim their shot at Vegas. She was the only one left, so she got it! Once that happened, they knew Linda had to try to win a slot so they could both run in the world championship.
Page’s results in a triathlon in Puerto Rico gave her a spot, too. Six weeks ago, mother and daughter completed their races in the Ironman World Championships. The race date? September 11.
Neither of them foresees a change in their passion. They both train with Playtri, a professional triathlon organization founded by Zaher and based in East Dallas. They both find it satisfying to be outside, to stay fit with a goal and competition to keep them motivated, and enjoy the fellowship and respect from their peers.
Linda calls herself “the old lady” of the triathlon community here. She figures she’ll keep trying to iron out training wrinkles until she matches or surpasses Sister Madonna, an 80-year-old nun who competes in the Kona. And to think it all started with a little shot…
Justin & Louise Boll: It Was Hate At First Sight
Louise Hubbard was minding her own business at The Front Room, a neighborhood pizza parlor in San Francisco’s tony Nob Hill section, when a charming, sharply dressed gentleman seated at the next table had the audacity to politely ask if he could borrow one of her chairs.
Can you believe it? The nerve of that guy …with the steel-blue eyes … and the lilting Southern drawl, which she couldn’t quite place. Was he from Mobile? No. Charleston? No. Nashville? No. And then, he spoke the unspeakable. “I’m from Dallas, Texas.” No!!!!!! Not Dallas, Texas! Home of the Evil Empire. The Hail Mary Pass. And, dare I say, the Un-Holy Trinity: Troy, Emmitt and Michael Irvin, the self-anointed “Playmaker.” “Well, that does it, Cowboy!” mused the corporate events director. “No Immaculate Reception for you.” After all, she was a D.C. native and a life-long Redskins fan—even though she’d spent the second half of her life cheering from afar in Portland, Oregon.
Just who did he think he was? Justin Boll, that’s who! Lake Highlands native, Arizona graduate (political science), sharpshooter (white-tail deer & plastic army men), diamond expert (baseball), gardening guru (Yard of the Month recipient), sales swami, and as if that weren’t enough, blazoned across the front of his business card was the coup de grace, Oracle. Bingo! Keeper! By anyone’s standards, you’d think.
But Louise wasn’t about to fall for that ruse. Smart cookie that girl. Went to Linfield College, a prestigious liberal arts college in Oregon. Majored in English. Spoke French. Studied in Paris. Traveled the globe. Hiked the Andes. Besides, Louise isn’t the impulsive type. She’s FOREVER weighing her options. For all she knew, Mr. Wonderful here was nothing more than a con artist laying a trap to kidnap her chair and ransom her heart? Nice try, Bucko!
Giving him the time of day, let alone a second thought, would be akin to gridiron blasphemy. They were totally different…blood types, that is; he bled silver & blue and she burgundy & gold. Totally incompatible. Clearly, she wasn’t on speaking terms with herself. Clinically speaking, she was in denial: Her left-brain was giving her right brain the silent treatment.
(This internal struggle lasted about a nanosecond. Did I mention his steel-blue eyes and lilting Southern drawl?)
The harassment didn’t end there, either. In the subsequent months, he attempted to bribe her with surprise bouquets, relaxing picnics at Stenson Beach, romantic moonlit strolls in Golden Gate Park and tickets to see Emmylou Harris at the Filmore. And before you know it, this defenseless beauty with the Hollywood looks, radio voice and jetsetter lifestyle (momma was a Delta flight attendant & daddy a senior exec at Marriott) was totally Boll-ed over.
Two years later, she was carried over the threshold and he was transferred over to Dallas, where they lived in an Uptown apartment overlooking the Hook, Line & Sinker—which only seemed fitting since about a month later Justin went fishing for a new job and landed the Big One: an enviable position that came with three impressive letters of recommendation: IBM. Indeed, the Good Lord does provide.
Yeah, you could say that the Bolls are a religious family. Hanging prominently on their living room wall is a sacred collection of handcrafted crosses that Louise has dug up or acquired over the years. Not to be outdone, Justin felt compelled to build a shrine…in the garage…where he goes to worship the Rangers—not the Angels. That would be out n’ out heresy. Sacred icons adorn virtually every alcove and vestibule: Rangers street signs, banners, calendars, magnets, mugs, posters, autographed balls, you name it.
And then there’s his bible, the Newberg Report, “Covering the Texas Rangers from top to bottom.” Justin’s devotion is so profound and life altering, he insisted on a pre-nuptial agreement, which states in no uncertain terms, that if the Rangers make it to the World Series (or his alma mater, the Arizona Wildcats make it to the Rose Bowl), he’s going! Case closed!
Fanatical? Maybe. But before you pass judgment, you’ve got to put yourself in his shoes. Justin’s been a Rangers fan since the beginning, way back in 1974 A.D. And it’s been a proverbial baptism by fire. Folks, this tortured soul has suffered through 34 agonizing years of futility. He lives, breaths and dies with the Rangers, metaphorically speaking. And this year…well… the Good Lord answered his prayers, so he was able to honor his marital contract, fulfill his boyhood dream and attend Game 4 of the 2011 World Series in Arlington.
From a religious standpoint, five-year-old daughter Savannah has her own cross to bear, leading a procession of cherub-faced angels down the aisle to children’s church. That’s her calling. You see, she isn’t quite big enough or strong enough to be a bell ringer, but that hasn’t stopped her from chiming in from time to time with an enthusiastic ‘”Amen!” during our Eucharistic celebration.
Of course, her little sis, Alice, likes to get in on the act, too. So every Sunday during the 10 o’clock time slot, her adoring fans get to enjoy her God-given talent as a sit, kneel and stand-up comedienne.
So while there might not be any joy in Mudville, there’s plenty in Merriman Park. Because, on that fateful day in San Francisco, mighty Justin did NOT strike out.
ROBINSON CRUSOE: DONNA ROBINSON
It’s hard to believe that nearly six years have passed since our hero first set foot on this primitive island, a verdant paradise surrounded by a sea of humanity and technology.
Every day here is an eye-opening adventure, an enduring struggle to find shelter, fresh water and the intestinal fortitude to survive. And yet, finding safe passage back is of little concern, because for Donna Robinson, this is home…her spiritual home…the one place where she can feel the Lord’s presence and all His glory.
You see, the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in northeastern New Mexico isn’t just Mother Nature’s premier amusement park or the ultimate proving ground for adventurous young boys. It’s God’s country, Scouting Paradise. In the shadows of the Tooth of Time outcropping, you’ll find Donna teaching those long in the tooth how to lead the next generation of scouts and equip them with the proper survival skills such as confidence, compassion, cooperation and conservation, along with self-reliance and tireless service.
Consequently, Donna spends the better part of August working on the ranch and the rest of the year holed up at the Hearst Castle. No, not the palatial estate overlooking the Pacific, but her secluded retreat overlooking Skillman.
How did a lil’ ol’ country girl come to lead such a charmed life? Well, let me put it to you this way: Donna has “tied the knot” more times than she cares to remember. First, it was the square knot, then the hitch, the taut-line, the clove hitch, and the list goes on and on. But her favorite one—the knot that made her feel the most secure—was the one she tied with the charming Mr. Hearst.
William Randolph Hearst? No, Frank Thomas Hearst, a distant cousin, many times removed. Come to find out, Tom’s sensational in his own right, just not in a “yellow” or dubious way. To the contrary, he’s an honorable man—always generous with his time and eager to share his wealth of knowledge with others. And like Donna, he embraces the same spirit of adventure and love for the great outdoors.
Most folks who know Donna describe her as “down to earth.” But it goes much deeper than that: 6,000 feet deeper. As a geophysicist and sedimentologist for Mobil, she wasn’t the least bit troubled by all the corporate layers; after all, interpreting seismic data and creating subsurface maps of fossil fuel reserves was her forte. Donna didn’t complain about the travel, either. Two years in Vienna, six in London and extended field trips to the French and Spanish countryside, as well as Germany, St. Croix and The Bahamas. Quite the passport for a small-town girl. Why even Robin Leach from Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous would be impressed by her stamp collection.
More impressive still, were the lengths to which these lovebirds would go to express their love for each other…flying back and forth between Vienna, London and Stavanger, Norway on a regular basis. Nothing could keep them apart. Not weekends, holidays, the jagged Alps or the temperamental North Sea. And they have the Platinum AAdvantage cards, gold wedding bands and bronzed baby booties to prove it.
Now together with their 19-year-old son Max, they enjoy skiing in Colorado, scuba diving in Cozumel and hibernating in their Lake Highlands home, where they pass the time reading military history, exploring musical genres and dissecting movies from an artistic point of view.
If there’s one thing that Donna’s learned during her life-long adventure, it’s that each of us is called to the Lord’s Table to do HIS work. That table could be the ceremonial altar at St. James, surrounded by stained-glass windows and Christian icons. Or, in her case, an 8,583-foot mesa at Philmont, surrounded by God’s children and a breathtaking vista of ponderosa pines as far as the eye can see.
Published May 19, 2011
Secret Agent Man: Roger Earl
He's been linked to the most beautiful women in the world: Ursula Andress, Honor Blackman and Kim Basinger, just to name a few. He's also been credited with single-handedly saving the world from almost certain destruction on numerous occasions. Nary a day goes by (or so it seems) that someone doesn't mistake Roger Earl for Roger Moore's predecessor, a latter-day Sean Connery—the original James Bond.
But that's not the only separated-at-birth account that hits close to home for this mysterious figure. Turns out, Roger bears a striking resemblance to another distinguished gentleman of British descent—Charles Whitman, the long-lost brother he never knew existed until 68 years after the fact when ancestry.com called from out of the blue. Proving the age-old adage that you're never too old to learn something new even if it's about yourself.
What Roger has known all along is that he grew up on a farm in upstate New York, was adopted by his next-door neighbors at age two, and despite his strict Episcopalian upbringing, had his first brush with the law at the ripe old age of six, when he volunteered to wash a city bus both inside and out with a garden hose—a little impromptu community service project that would've been better received had the bus not been passing by the house with its windows wide open and its unsuspecting passengers so closed-minded.
Roger changed his tune after that—picking up the violin, the clarinet and a seat on the bus that shuttled the prestigious Columbus Boys Choir to venues up and down the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, he had to give up being a New York Yankee, which nearly killed him. You see, the family moved to the Deep South—Leland, Mississippi—where Roger was promptly exposed to southern hospitality and the Asian flu.
Truth be told, it was during these formative years that Roger became more closely associated with another "bond," which exists beyond the fictional character portrayed on the silver screen. And that's the sacred bond of trust between a commander and his troops, a teacher and his students, a business and its customers and more importantly, a shepherd and his flock. In each case, Roger learned the importance of doing things by the book, as well as by the Book.
Upon graduation from high school, he was honored with a congressional appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Poor eyesight and a bad back prevented him from fulfilling that dream, but not his calling to help others realize theirs. So he earned a teaching degree from Delta State College and set about the task of opening the eyes of children to the wonders of mathematics and the horrors of a freewheeling yardstick. Both faculty and parents marveled at the respect he commanded and the knowledge the students gleaned under his tutelage.
From there, he parlayed his math degree into a storied career as a quality assurance expert with Lockheed Aircraft, Brunswick Billiards and Magnavox. Eventually, that led to a third career in film processing, a move to Dallas, a home at St. James and the role of a verger—the church's liturgical quality assurance expert.
When Roger isn't busy preparing the way for the Kingdom of Heaven, he's down at the Austin Street Centre preparing meals, shopping for supplies, picking up donations, and providing emotional and spiritual support for 400 needy souls every day.
Much like his Hollywood counterpart, Roger has a commanding presence, a penchant for fast cars and a knack for making the impossible look easy. In fact, just the other day he was driving down Skillman Street when a car pulled up beside him and the driver started honking and motioning for him to roll down his window. When he did, the fella said, "Bond, James Bond?" Roger was shaken--not stirred--but he didn't let on as much. After all, a secret agent, even one working for the Lord, must be unflappable.
Published April 7, 2011
west point grad passes muster: rich Elam and family
Even though it's been nearly 30 years since he braved the steamy jungles of Panama and countless live-fire exercises around the globe, U.S. Army infantryman Rich Elam is often disturbed by the sound of gunfire, heavy artillery and ear-piercing screams...emanating from the adjacent room. "Sofia! Betsy! Keep it down, will ya? I'm trying to grab some shut-eye." But hey, what's a napping dad to do?! Kids nowadays love their videogames. And for the Elam girls, the game of choice is Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Nothing could've prepared this Airborne Ranger for his most important mission: raising two daughters single-handedly in a world full of temptations—not four years at West Point, not nine weeks of Ranger School, not even 24 years of active duty. But two reliable sources have served him well: his sister Libby, the resident expert on teen drama, dating and fashion; and his savior Jesus Christ, general counsel for any other mysteries he might otherwise encounter.
Some lessons from the army did carry over to family life—like honesty, respect, punctuality, and cleanliness. Rumor has it that impromptu room inspections—conducted with the aid of a ruler—aren't out of the ordinary. But Rich learned early on that he couldn't be too regimented if he hoped to earn the respect of his troops. And by all accounts, that battle plan has paid off. "He's cool, he's funny, he gives us room to breathe...and all our friends love him" are just a few of the compliments his daughters rattle off like a .50 caliber M2 machine gun.
When you grow up in Roswell, New Mexico, and graduate from Robert H. Goddard High School (named in honor of the father of modern rocketry), you tend to have high expectations for yourself and those around you. For Rich, that resulted in his acceptance into the highly selective U.S. Military Academy, recognition as a defenseman on their elite Division 1 lacrosse team, and a distinguished 20-year career as an Army officer. He retired from the military in 1995, but the list of accomplishments didn't end there. Rich moved to Dallas to be near his family—his parents lived in Allen and his sister only blocks away—where he quickly rose through the ranks of commercial real estate, becoming the president of a national firm.
About that time, Rich reunited with an old high school classmate, Russ Nelms, and developed a renewed interest in a different sort of real estate: the kingdom of heaven. At St. James, he's donated his time and talents to help keep the grounds presentable, the books balanced, the missions on track, the bells ringing, and the Boar's Head Festival a well-guarded secret.
While Rich made his mark in the European and Pacific theaters, his eldest daughter, Sofia (15) has set her sight on the Broadway theaters. With seven years of dance to her credit, the Woodrow Wilson sophomore has distinguished herself as a soprano in the Varsity Show Choir, which is gearing up for the musical Grease, as well as the State Solo-Ensemble and One-Act Play competitions.
Sofia isn't the only vocal member of the family; eleven-year-old Betsy has plenty to sing and dance about with the Lakewood Elementary Choir and her Studio B troupe. What's more, some of her best moves aren't restricted to the dance floor. A few days each week, she trades in her ballet slippers for a pair of Air Jordans, wreaking havoc on the basketball court as a center/forward. Yeah, you could say that Betsy's got her head in the clouds, seeing how she's constantly glued to the Weather Channel. Convinced that her theatrical sister needs her head examined, she's more than happy to do the honors since brain surgery is her calling.
All of this may come as news to you. Being a career military man, Rich prefers to let his actions speak for him. If you've ever seen Rich in action or had the pleasure of meeting his daughters, you'll agree, he deserves the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Medal for his tour of duty as a single, full-time dad—though, at times, he wonders if a Purple Heart might be more apropos.
Published March 16, 2011
Mary Dodd: A Woman Possessed
Don't let her tender heart, infectious smile and warm embrace fool you; Mary Dodd is by all accounts a woman possessed...by her love for her boys, her love for her extended family, and without a doubt, her love for the Dallas Mavericks.
Ironically enough, this love story began years ago in Philadelphia—the exact date of which I'm not at liberty to say. Nevertheless, it was here living in the shadows of Temple University, a perennial powerhouse on the parquet floor, that Mary found her first true love: basketball. But the rhythmic beat of a dribbling basketball wasn't the only sound that captured her fancy. As time went by, she also developed an ear and lifelong love for classical music while attending seasonal performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
As fate would have it, Mary left the City of Brotherly Love for Dallas to establish the home of motherly love, where she helped raise three sons (Bobby, Chris and Adam), and one grandson, Alex. Concerned about their spiritual welfare, she led the family on a religious pilgrimage. After traveling more than 3,500 feet, a sign in the east appeared to them (they lived on the west side of Audelia Road). It said St. James Episcopal Church. She knew they were in the presence of the Lord the moment they entered the welcoming arms of the St. James family, a feeling that continues to this day.
Blessed with a heart the size of Texas, it's safe to say that Mary has more than enough love to go around. So every year she adopts 14 boys from places like Germany (Dirk Nowitzki), Canada (Steve Nash), Guadeloupe (Roddy Beaubois) and Serbia (Peja Stojakovic). These towering figures will one day inspire her favorite basketball player of all, her 12-year-old grandson Alex, to greatness. True to form, she never misses a Mavericks game, lavishing praise whenever possible. In fact, she even worked her way onto the Mavericks payroll as an usher at the American Airlines Center during home games.
In recent years, Mary has spent a great deal of time at St. James volunteering at the school and the Pumpkin Patch. She's always ready to lend a helping hand. But before you call her, make sure the Mavericks aren't playing. Otherwise you'll have a devil of a time reaching her.
Published March 3, 2011