Unforgettable Canadians and the Quilt Barn Trail

Bow tie quilt block

A quilt block on an attorney’s office in Bonham

An updated report on the largest quilt barn trail in Texas.

We met on the square in the Chamber of Commerce office in Bonham, Texas to meet Marie, from McKinney, who had moved from Canada and her visitors, Steve and Judy, from Ontario, Canada. They wanted to see the largest quilt barn trail in Texas. I joined them for their tour. They had read about the trail in the Texas Electric Coop magazine. Judy is a quilter. I was an observer that day and author of the article. I tagged along to update information about the trail.

The Quilt Barn Trail

A quilt barn block is exactly that: a colorful quilt pattern block or geodesic design which is square, painted on wood or metal and hung on barns or other buildings. Downtown Bonham has 20 blocks on various buildings: for example, on a tire store, a law office, and a community building. Maps are available at the Chamber to assist visitors maneuver in town and in the countryside to find the lovely artwork.  Be sure to view the online video of the trail.

We met with Patti Wolf, the organizer and spokesperson for the quilt trail. The dismal sky did not deter Patti’s tour. Judy, Steve and Marie arrived a half an hour late as they took a wrong turn at road construction, ending in Kansas before they realized their error (actually Sherman, Texas).

Patti had time to drive us around, not a regular occurrence with her busy schedule. She gave background to the three Canadians and me before we left for a short walk to see nearby signs. Sure, the town honors their hero Sam Rayburn but the Texas Quilt Barn Trail offers visitors a new reason for a road trip.

Double-sided

A Double-Sided Quilt Block

The Jaunt

Patti invited us to ride in her new, huge truck to see the trail. If we made a video of climbing into the truck, it would have gone viral. We needed a ladder; however, Steve saved the day as his strong arms helped by pushing and jostling the three females into the back seat. We all giggled and grunted but we made it into that humongous back seat. He rode “shotgun.”

We enjoyed the ride with Patti’s strong, Texas twang filling in the blanks concerning the people and the quilt blocks. “This one used to be inside the fence, but they moved it outside so everyone can see it. The senior center has three quilt blocks.” Eagerly, Patti shared the news that the trail continues to grow like weeds in a flower garden. When I wrote the original article the quilt blocks numbered around 50, but rose to 120 in the past 18 months. I particularly like the one on Highway 78 that is different designs on each side.

quilt barn square

Beauty on a Barn

Lunch

Over lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant the threesome shared they would visit Gruene, Waco, Fredericksburg, and San Antonio. They toured Dallas before Bonham. Our group knew about signs on barns from living near the Amish and Mennonite barns close to their home and in the Northeast. The Texas quilt blocks rival or surpass the artwork in the Northeast.

Spring Is Around the Corner 

As we parted Marie called the tour “…a delightful day of discovery as we drove through the towns and countryside of Fannin County in search of each unique quilt pattern proudly crafted and displayed.” Judy commented that it was, “An informative and enjoyable day highlighted by true Texas hospitality.”

I urged the Canadians to return in the spring to enjoy the Texas wildflowers and clear, blue skies when they might be wearing parkas in Canada. Traveling offers surprises you cannot beat.

If you are looking for a travel treat, be sure to pick up a map at the Bonham Chamber to see the largest quilt barn block trail in the state of Texas. If you are from Canada or other country, maybe you, too, will get to ride in a big, new truck!

by Ruth Glover, Author of Gift of the Suitcase and Freelance Writer/Speaker

Reprinted with permission from the Roxton Progress Newspaper, Roxton, Texas (last names & group photo omitted in the reprint)

Volume 40, Number 8, January 19, 2017

 

Cool Place, Hot Location

Hotels are not the only place to stay! 

Quiet Moment

A Quiet Moment in the Midst of Christmas Week

We arrived in Houston on December 22 for our stay at the Domain at City Center  for eight days. The mammoth complex sits in the middle of Town and Country Village, as they call it. The price is about the same as a hotel room. We would be near our two sons and six grand-children. A son checked the model apartment beforehand to assure the reality of the online advertisement. “You’ll be claustrophobic in 750 square feet (not true), and the traffic, awful (true),” he reported. We signed the contract without knowing other aspects. The property is owned by an individual, not the leasing company.

Last year we stayed in Houston a month in a VRBO rental with three bedrooms and two baths. We thought the grand-children might visit us and stay overnight a few times. Didn’t happen.

Our dog presents an issue wherever we travel. Fargo is the perfect guest unless left alone. He’s quite good in a hotel room as long as we are with him. He barks incessantly with fear of abandonment if no one is with him. Over the six years we have owned him, we tried unsuccessful remedies to quiet his fierce barking. When he travels with us, we tend to eat in our hotel or motel room. If it’s cold enough, he stays in the car while we rush through dinners. In Houston we could deposit his blanket, dishes, leash, and bad habit with either family. The barking, little thirteen-pound beast, loves the grand-kids and grand-dogs.  On this trip we ate with family much of the time.

Watching cars

I wanna watch cars, Dad!

The Condo

The condo contained everything we needed, even a little balcony above a garden. The owner left coffee, salt, pepper, bottled water, garbage bags, soap for the dishwasher…even kitchen shears for us.  The furniture and decorations probably came from Ikea. Everything was comfortable, even the bed, which is not always the case with furnished rental properties.

Other positives included a parking place (quite small) on the same floor as our rental and a dog park! I didn’t think Fargo would like the phony grass but he loved it. He and I walked around the condo grounds and hiked the neighborhood of office and condo buildings. I never let him off-lease except in the dog park. One day he and I made 10,000+ steps according to my FIT. Other amenities in the building: a meeting area with coffee, an outdoor pool, an exercise room, and outdoor grills.

Shops and Restaurant

the plaza

The Plaza-food, music, strollers, shops

Gourmet restaurants line the streets, along with retail shops and other businesses. One night I purchased carry-out from a high-end Mexican restaurant a few steps outside our building. Another night we had designer pizza and salad from a restaurant by the plaza across from us. At night musicians performed there. Recognizable brands abound. How about Sur la Table, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ulta, and Barnes and Noble? A grocery and a pharmacy are “walkable,” although maybe not when it’s over 100 degrees. Christmas Day the temperature hit 82 degrees.

Other Properties

This is our fourth “VBRO” or Vacation Rental by Owner.* VRBOs are great for a long or short stay. They are not quite like home but certainly more exciting than a boring and expensive hotel. Our short stay this year will lead to more travel. It’s so much fun to try someone else’s home or condo, especially in such a hot place in a cool location.

*VRBO or Vacation Rental By Owner is part of the Homeaway conglomerate owned by Expedia.

Loving Others

Valentine

Smile. It’s contagious. Photo by R. Glover

 

February is the traditional month we think about love. Our new President scares the “snot” right out of some. We need to love and pray for our government and leaders. I don’t want to get preachy, but, doggonit, smiling is better than frowning. Wringing our hands is not fruitful. Nasty, rude comments solve nothing.

Christian religion says, “Give it to God.” Sometimes that seems the only or best answer. We cannot help the angry police officer who is wiping spit off his face from an accused predator.  We cannot help the jerk who cuts in front of us on a busy highway. We cannot help the pilot when the plane is late. But…we can try more thoughtfulness before responding in a heated conversation. Helping others soothes the soul but fear brings a raft of emotions.

Subways

statue of liberty

Statue of Liberty from the Harbor by R. Glover

Before I visited New York City last year I feared conquering the subways. Would someone accost me? Rip my backpack off? Would I become confused traveling to the theater? A friend assured me the New York City subways are safe, but I should not stay out late. I looked at the subway map and nausea enveloped me.

The doorman at the hotel, where we stayed near Washington Park, helped me understand the reality of “uptown” and “downtown,” along with suggestions for taking the A-line or B-line for best results. His kindness and raucous laughter assuaged my fear. Only later did a recall managing the subways in France when I was 21 years-old.

Success

Never got lost! Had a great time. Glad I overcame my fear.

Fear

The French suffer a reputation for caustic communication. I know France is struggling with fear of foreigners. Many French Jews are moving (again) because of fear. Israel’s geography may change as the borders become unsafe for their citizens. The world is in chaos. Certainly, not the first or last time.

Eiffel Tower

Under the Eiffel Tower-Photo by R. McMichael

Love One Another

What can we do? We must love one another. We must try to understand and cope when our values are diverse. Each day let’s concentrate on kindness to others. At the end of each day where did we deposit kindness? At the very least, show respect.

It’s February. Hug a friend. Send a note to a neglected relative. Love others. Respect diversity and value difference. It can only make the world a better place to live.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Peace Be with Us.

Hot Rods and Hot Glass

Introduction

Parabelle Glass Paperweight

Parabelle Paperweight-Gary Scrutton

Photo by T. Glover

On a visit to Portland, Oregon a few years ago I met Gary Scrutton, his wife, daughter and a grandson. He welcomed us to his garage workshop in Sellwood, a neighborhood in Southeast Portland. Gary’s last endeavor, restoring hot rods, kept him as busy as his former business, making paperweights. He and his lovely wife took time to share their story with me. Afterwards I wrote an article about his life for an online news service. Here’s the story, slightly revised:

A Glazier

As a teenager, Gary Scrutton thought he’d build hot rods, dreaming, as many young people do. But by the time he reached 23, his family of six needed a better income.

Gary served an apprenticeship in the glazier industry. Glaziers cut and fit window glass for residential and commercial use. By age 42, with his family grown, he    wanted to try working with glass in new ways. While reading about glass art, paperweights caught his attention, taking his breath away with their beauty. When he watched a paperweight being produced by Clichy of France, he felt as if one of the glass orbits hit him on the head. He became obsessed. He experimented with various colors of glass, studying the chemistry and physics of glass making. Concentrating on the historic time between 1840 and1855, he studied the famous European artists in detail. His boss told him he would never learn the art of making paperweights. Gary took the challenge. He quit his job to develop Parabelle Glass, his new business. Friends and family thought he was crazy.

Sweet Success

Gary remained stalwart in his belief he could master the art. He made the glass himself, mixed his own chemicals for perfect color, designed the products and purchased the necessary equipment. Doris, the loving, but worried wife, labored beside him, assuring the bills were paid. Gary gave his first paperweight to his former boss two years after quitting.

Two relatives offered to help him sell the weights. When Larry Selman, the premier dealer for paperweights, discovered Gary’s talent, the rest is history. Doris, his wife, ran the business while Julie, one of his grown children, assisted with the production. They named the company Parabelle Glass. He earned more than a good living.

Back to the Future

Alas, after 14 years of physically demanding work in a heat-filled studio, Gary retired. His work continues to be available through the L.H.Selman studio, now in Chicago, a premier paperweight dealer. When Gary closed his shop, he devoted time to a former passion: he refurbishes hot rods. The fire in his heart for hot rods never died, although he will be remembered in the art world for many generations for his paperweights.

Addendum

Sadly, Doris Scrutton died in 2013. She and Gary were married for 57 years. He died a few months later in February 2014. I am proud I met his family and him. I am glad I met them, and I am the proud owner of two of his weights.

 

 

 

 

 

A Passion for Performance

Robin Read’s Performers Add Joy to the Christmas Season

SONY DSC

Robin Read

Everyone in the tiny town in upper New York state knew little Robin. In elementary school, she decided to be a singer. Family encouraged her. At age 13 she trotted off to the Seagle Music Colony, the oldest summer vocal training program in the United States, probably the youngest person to attend this program.  Here, she learned about set building, make up, costuming and  took part in plays, musicals and operas.

When she graduated from high school in the largest class ever (33 students), she found a path to Texas, as she hated snow. While attending Texas Christian University she majored in Music Performance and continued to build her performance and production skills . Voice and performance brought attention from renown artists and professors.

Her Journey

Robin Read’s history, rich with stories of success, delivers a message of hard work, business savvy and gutsiness. Immediately after college, she married a photographer who taught her the importance of accounting, operations, along with the mechanics and dynamics of photography.

Divorced after 15 years of marriage, she returned to her dreams. At her first audition after her hiatus she pretended confidence with fear rumbling in her stomach. She won the role, leading to admiration from many in the industry with her peppy personality, acting ability and technical talent. Her theatrical acumen kept her busy with minor and leading film roles. She’s been on the same set with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and starred as the leading lady for many theatrical performances.  Robin’s entrepreneurial spirit led to voice-overs, commercials, television, film and theater, preventing any “starving artist” experiences.

Robin Buys Holiday Cheer Entertainment

About 20 years ago she joined a singing group, Holiday Cheer Entertainment company, with other trained

Christmas Cheer Singers

Victorian Costumes for Crisp Christmas Weather

singers who perform during the holidays for tree lightings, corporate parties, elevator lobbies, and other venues. Sometimes they sang at elegant, private, holiday parties. Other times they sang outdoors, waiting in the wind and weather for Santa to arrive.

Four years ago the lady who founded the Dallas based group decided to sell. When she asked Robin to purchase the group, Robin thought, Work from home? Flexible schedule? Singing gigs? Christmas joy and cheer for others? Remarkable Robin took the risk.

She loves holiday music, customizing each performance on the spot. For example, if the crowd resonates with children’s laughter, they quickly switch from “Silent Night” to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

During the holiday season, life becomes overwhelming, as she is a control freak, a big reason for her success. Before she signs a contract to send a group (usually three to eight singers), the individuals must commit to the event. She chooses the specialized singers based on personality, location, and type of event. Customers return year after year because of her consistent attention to detail.

Off Season

In the off season the singers continue to meet, but not as often. Since she participates in the groups, she understands singing “White Christmas” can cause frigid fingers. She has lined the capes they wear and added hoods. They wear gloves. Who knew owning the group would require her expertise in sewing? She copes with the myriad of staffing issues, such as the mom with a teenager who was rear-ended on the highway, recent divorces, and sudden bouts of laryngitis. She indicated, “My singers are like family. Most of us have been together for years.” She hires, coordinates the schedules, bills the clients, pays the singers, and warms cold hands. She upgrades costumes during the summer, storing them in a special room in her home.

The Rewards

Although her singing groups are paid, it’s not the money that keeps them singing to hustling crowds. The joy she and her singers see as the crowds sing with them, whose faces reflect memories from long ago, and the wide-eyed children which fills the crisp air with cheer. When she chose singing for a career, she had no expectations for the rich rewards she would find bringing holiday happiness to crowds.

Watch for her at a tree lighting or on a street corner with her classically trained, enthusiastic choirs or quartets in their Victorian costumes. Like her on FaceBook Holiday Cheer Entertainment or visit her website to see upcoming events and watch her upcoming company growth. She is adding weddings, birthdays, and other holidays to the repertoire in the future.

The world offers opportunity in the arts for jobs and businesses; however, it takes long hours, hard work, risk taking, revenue building, and talent. Robin Read and Holiday Cheer Entertainment demonstrate careers in singing are possible, but it doesn’t happen without passion and performance. Being an accomplished singer is not enough. A singer without performance is like a writer without readers.

 

 

 

 

Hints for the Holidays

…Helpful hints for the holidays.

Fall dining table

Thanksgiving Table

As I thought about the November issue of Roving Ruth, I wondered how my friends cope with the chaos and pace of the holidays. How can we look serene when people arrive at the Thanksgiving and Christmas tables? Rather than research what others say online, I polled 25 of my friends to see what they would suggest to improve the holiday cheer.

I received ten responses: some sent short replies, all contained serious thought, and one response arrived from a male.  I’m sharing the best comments from each participant. The responses show kindness, wisdom, and humor devoted to our celebrations.

Themes

1) Buy a smaller tree which requires no help from others to trim.

2) Potluck parties.

3) Be kind to yourself; enjoy “time off” to relax.

4) Donate and volunteer.

I asked for two or three sentences and I received enough words for a short story or article.  I was stunned, pleased, and overwhelmed with how to use the insight wisely. Only one person responded with three sentences. I am sending her a small gift of appreciation for the ability to follow directions.

Best Christmas Poll Hints (in random order, slightly edited)

~Several years ago we decided in our extended family of twenty-four, to economize by starting one of those crazy gift exchanges. We created guidelines for letting each person bring one gift to exchange three times before the final stop. We use a pie tin and dice to keep things rolling with laughter and fun.

 ~I do not have family to celebrate with so I decorate the house early and invite my friends for a holiday party the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I am grateful I created my “family.” It sets the tone for the entire season.

 ~One thing I do each year is attend a holiday concert, play or other event with my immediate family or just my husband and I. It’s a brief respite from the chaos that otherwise ensues, and it gives us a few short hours to really enjoy each other’s company in the midst of a hectic time.

 ~I send relatives and friends a Christmas letter telling them we want their presence in our life, not presents.   

 ~I buy boxes of peppermint candy canes and keep them in my purse.  I give them to waitresses, cashiers, postal workers, or anyone I come in contact with…to remind them of the love and care that people still have in this world.  

 ~Now if you are Jewish this is a no brainer.  My sister and family would go to the malls and watch the people hurrying around and just enjoy the view!

 ~Buy a book for everyone on your shopping list or give them your book if they haven’t already read it.  It is so enjoyable. (My favorite, for some reason.)

The Winner of the Christmas Poll Hints

Wagon Wheel Antiques & Gifts Christmas Pole in Calico Rock, Arkansas

Wagon Wheel Antiques & Gifts
Christmas Pole in Calico Rock, Arkansas

Dale Wiley, long-time friend who lives in Florida, is the only man who took the time to answer the following question I posed in the email. In the email to my friends, I asked how to seek help from the spouse. His response resonates for all of us.

~It must be a guy thing about that Christmas tree and not being helpful. It’s not that we don’t want to see a nicely decorated Christmas tree or we don’t want to help. It is what a Christmas tree represents; that the Christmas season is really here again and in our minds it was here not that long ago. We are rarely ready for it to come again. Translation: Now we have to go shopping and there is no way out of this.

 The quote by Edna Ferber just might keep you and the rest of us sane. Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.

 Thank you, Dale Wiley. Your Gift of the Suitcase (my latest book) is in the mail.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year!

The December issue of Roving Ruth is in process.

Name the Goat

goat's name

We need to name him.

As a child, I yearned for a pet reindeer. My tolerant parents explained that reindeer prefer living farther north. One day, I recall, a little boy arrived at the back door, yelling, “Lady, there’s a reindeer in your yard.” It was love at first sight for me. But, alas! The goat belonged to someone on another street. I always wanted a goat.

My pets loved their unusual names. I named the Rhode Island Red chickens Elsa and Russell Honey. Calling some of the dogs sounded strange in our neighborhood. My dog named 4th of July and another dog named High Water brought notoriety to my parents. Can you imagine calling the dogs to “come?”

Sinder almost lost his happy home for one of his acts. With his black, curly coat and soulful eyes, we trusted him. He managed to destroy my jean vest while he was caged near it. He wiggled the cage close enough to the jacket to pull it into the cage and shred it. Looked a little like fringe when he finished.

Fargo, my current dog, “goes far” with us. Fargo jumps into the car or truck whenever possible. He’s not from Fargo, nor are we.

Recently we visited Jefferson, Texas. The man who sold antiques next door to our Bed and Breakfast offers an array of unique tin animals. When I found the tin goat, excitement blossomed. I didn’t want the turkeys although their colorful tin feathers gleamed in the sunlight. The full size horses and carriage cost $15,000.

metal horses & stagecoach

Our HOA would NOT like this.

I arrived at his door while others still ate breakfast. A few minutes later I coaxed the goat into the back of my husband’s truck for the ride home.

My tin goat needs a name. Three names have been suggested. You, my readers, may find a better name than the suggested ones. I will go with the majority or MOST intriguing. If I can’t decide, I will ask poll my eight grandchildren for the choice.  I should say I’ll ask my seven grandchildren, as the baby is thirteen months old and might not understand this craziness.

The three suggested names are:

Jefferson or Jeff for short: I adopted him when we visited Jefferson, Texas.

Billy: because he is obviously male with big horns and “other attributes.”

Caddo: the area around Jefferson originally belonged to the Caddo Indians.

Can’t we find a better name for him? Please send your name, email and phone number to ruth@ruthglover.com no later than 5:00 p.m. on 11/15/16 with your suggestion(s). You will win a free copy of my book Gift of the Suitcase. If you have already read it, it will be a good gift for a friend. The goats’ new name and winner will be announced before Thanksgiving on my Facebook page and in the December newsletter of Roving Ruth. It’s your chance to become the “famous-goat-namer.”

Thank you in advance for helping me name my tin goat.

Happy Thanksgiving. May the old goats in your life fill your life with laughter. Don’t take them too seriously.

 

No Ghosts Allowed

 

Monied Casket

Photo by R. Glover

 

Don’t expect a display of ghosts and goblins at this Houston Museum. As you enter the National Museum of Funeral History, your eyes gaze at an indoor parking lot of unusual hearses. Some with wooden wheels. Another looks like someone spent years carving the hearse into a spectacular sculpture, but it is a long station wagon to carry bodies. The caskets tip the scales of innovation. Do I want a casket decorated with encased money on it when I die? I think not!

Everyone must cope with death. We live and then we die. We have celebrations for “All Hallows Eve” or Halloween Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and All Saints Day throughout the world.

In the US,  many take dying for granted until a loved one surprises us with an untimely death or lingering longer than expected. Death is frightening to many people. Coping with the death of a loved one, or an unloved one, is an emotional experience. Reactions range from dreadful nightmare to possible relief.

The National Museum of Funeral History, established in 1992, seeks to increase and improve our knowledge of how we care for the deceased. With “the largest collection of authentic historical funeral items in America” this exceptional Museum offers many educational displays.

As I stared at a replica of Abe Lincoln in his coffin, I pondered how his death affected history. The extensive Papal exhibit, “Celebrating the Lives & Deaths of the Popes,” shares a story of the popes throughout ages and the traditions behind their burials. Frankly, the extent of the information stunned me.

The President and COO of the museum, Genevieve Keeney, started her career at the museum in 2007 about the time the Papal exhibit began to evolve. Robert Boetticher, the museum’s CEO, became interested in what occurred behind the scenes when Pope John Paul II died. The project snow-balled from a 10×10 foot space into a thorough history of the popes for a “celebration of life with pride and respect.”  Ms. Keeney urges visitors to, “come with an open mind and realize each person responds in a different way.”

I appreciated the diversity of information.  The “Thanks for the Memories” exhibit showcases numerous pictures and objects from people such as Dale Earnhardt, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, and Prince. People who are curious about the embalming industry find worthwhile information in the “History of Embalming” exhibit. Others might prefer the style show of antique apparel for funerals, as seen in the “19th Century Mourning” exhibit. Both adults and children find fascinating objects and historical scenes, plus a few bizarre novelties.

October at the Museum gives visitors a special October Haunted House with a Classic Car Show on October 22. Try an educational experience that’s a little on the unusual side and offers enormous insight into how we care for our deceased, which offers a little something for everyone, nothing macabre at all.

Kneeling pop

Photo Courtesy of the Museum

Donations, a large annual golf tournament and ticket sales supply funding. Their website is an excellent resource to prepare for a  visit. This 30,000 square foot museum is located at 415 Barren Springs Dr., Houston, TX 77090, which is near Interstate 45 and FM 1960. I suggest allowing  a minimum of two hours to view this fabulous array of artifacts and historical information.

I’m sure no ghosts are allowed, but listen carefully. The figures look real. Maybe you can hear what the Pope is whispering in the photo.

A big thanks to Monica Rhodes and Genevieve Keeney for their assistance with this article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dignity in Death

Genevieve-headshot

Genevieve Keeney-President of the National Museum of Funeral History
Photo Courtesy of the Museum

Little Genevieve Keeney’s curiosity focused frequently on death and dying. Her mother, a bit incredulous, encouraged her questions. Fearless at age seven, Genevieve never lost her fascination with how we care for our loved ones during death.

Genevieve thought about medical school but money for additional education was scarce. So, instead she joined the Army. While in the military she worked in the medical field managing life and death situations. Her basic medical training led to a career path as a Non-Commissioned Officer and Senior Medic.

When she left the Army after 12 years, she researched what offered decent pay, fit her skills, and matched her interests. Smart lady!  Her new, part time job at the Veterans Administration Medical Center steered her to become an expert in palliative care, helping patients and families during their final chapter in life.  Returning to college became reality. She completed a Masters in Science in Non-Profit Organizational Management in 2015. Long hours and hard work are a way of life for her.

Originally wanting to be a coroner, her studies and profound experience led her to become a funeral director. During her studies for the license, she volunteered at the nearby National Museum of Funeral History. The staff recognized her diligence and passion for helping with whatever needed to be accomplished.

Soon after she began her volunteer work, Museum leaders decided to build a small tribute to the passing of the Popes. The plan started small but when others saw Genevieve’s creative talent in helping with the project, they hired her full time, beginning in 2007. She has a gift for creating thought provoking exhibits that support the Museum’s mission and make an often difficult subject more tolerable for visitors. She has truly helped take the museum to the next level, helping grow awareness, change perception and increase attendance. Innovation and willingness to speak with diplomacy suggest the perfect match for her talents. Her quiet demeanor and empathy on the job soothes the souls of her listeners. Yet, when she needs to be direct, watch out!

Whether speaking to a group of children about death and dying or working with the issues that confront the Board of Directors, her communication skills aid in her countless duties. The newest special exhibit she created, in remembrance of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, offers memorial books signed by a grieving nation and pictures drawn and colored by children to honor those who perished that fateful day.

When I interviewed her, we talked some about Halloween. The main goal at the Museum is to honor the compassion and dedication of the funeral services industry, enlighten visitors on one of man’s oldest cultural rituals and celebrate the heritage of the funeral services industry. The museum takes great care to present information in a respectful and tasteful way. Genevieve is not a big fan of people who disrespect the customs of others. She assures the Halloween displays, like the annual family-friendly Haunted House, epitomize, not ridicule or mock, the unique ways others celebrate the end of life.

When you visit the museum, you may see her wandering throughout the facility, making sure the exhibits and displays are well-lit and shiny clean or talking with the gift shop manager, where all items are tastefully displayed; she might even be leading a tour or visiting with museum goers. She tries to circulate but much of her time is devoted to speaking and coordinating events. She also still holds her job at the local veterans’ hospital. I loved her comment, “I continue to work at the VA where I am honored when I hold the hand of a dying Veteran. I get to use all of my skills every day, both at the VA and the Museum. Who would have thought when I was young, I’d be a part of such an elegant, thoughtful career?”

I, too, am honored to meet and write about this gifted lady. Marathon runner, mother, new grandma, and lifelong learner—she understands the joy of life and preserves dignity in death.

A big thanks to Monica Rhoades and Genevieve Keeney for their assistance with this article.