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A former coworker, shooting buddy and good friend was sworn in as a judge today at the Oklahoma Supreme Court. In August, Gov. Mary Fallin appointed Brian Goree to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. Everyone who knows Brian would attest to the fact that he is the most honest, ethical, moral and hard working person we know. He will be an outstanding and absolutely unbiased addition to the Oklahoma judiciary.

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Brian's wife Jill got to put his new robe on for him.

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Afterward, Brian...I mean, Judge Goree addressed the assembled guests while standing in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

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Judge Goree was his typical humble self.

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Judge Goree and his beautiful family.

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Judge Goree and his parents Mary and Jack. I was also fortunate to work with Jack for a few years. It is clear where Brian got is legal talents. Both of his parents are wonderful people; its no surprise that their two sons turned out as well as they did.

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Me and Judge Goreee. I am absolutely elated for Brian's well deserved recognition but must admit a little melancholy as the position requires a move to Oklahoma City for him and his family. His Tulsa friends' loss, the state's gain.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

048-susan-shaughnessy.jpgSusan Shaughnessy, a very close family friend, like a cousin to us, has suddenly taken very ill and is in a coma. Everyone's thoughts and prayers for her and her family are very much appreciated. Susan is just 30 years old and has an amazing spirit about her which is exemplified in her strong Catholic faith.

We were told we should pray for a miracle. More information can be found on Matt & Michelle's blog.

[UPDATE #1:] Susan Shaughnessy passed away Monday afternoon, November 17, 2008. Her family was with her when she died. The wake will be on Friday, November 21 and the funeral on Saturday, November 22, both in St. Louis. More details when they become available.

[UPDATE #2:] I see by my server logs that many many people are searching for information about Susan's wake, funeral and memorial, including individuals from overseas. It is really a tribute to her amazing spirit that she is loved by so many. When I get information regarding the St. Louis wake and funeral and December memorial mass in Washington D.C., I will immediately post it here. If anyone has additional details you don't see here, please post them in a comment or send me an email and I will update this post.

[UPDATE #3:]

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Close friends of Susan, Bea and Javier, were kind enough to pass along this photo of Susan Shaughnessy.

[UPDATE #4:] The Washington Times has a good article about Susan Shaughnessy entitled Requiem for Susan which explains more about her final days. The article even touches upon the impossible, trying to make sense of such a loss. See also, May her memory be eternal, also asking the qustion, "Why?"

Around the Web:

Radical Catholic Mom: With Sadness

Vox Nova: With Sadness

Julia Duin: Susan Shaughnessy, RIP
(Author of Washington Times article)

A day in the life: Susan Shaughnessy 1978-2008

Whispers in the Loggia: Between Heaven and Earth

Liberal Pastor in Burnsville: Grappling with The Death of a Friend

[UPDATE #5:]

Visitation
Friday, November 21, 2008, from 3:00 to 9:00 pm
Kutis Funeral Home
10151 Gravois Road
Affton, MO 63123
(314) 842-4458

Funeral Mass
Saturday, November 22, 2008, at 10:00 am
Saint Bernadette-Lemay
68 Sherman Road
Lemay, MO 63125
(314) 892-6882

Interment
Saturday, November 22, 2008, immediately after mass
Calvary Cemetery
5239 West Florissant Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63115
(314) 381-1313

[UPDATE #6:]

Susan Shaughnessy's obituary from STLtoday.com where there is also an online guest book people can sign and leave messages:

Susan M. Shaughnessy

Shaughnessy, Susan M. baptized into the hope of Christ's resurrection, Mon., Nov. 17, 2008. Beloved daughter of Patrick and Victoria (nee Kurczynski) Shaughnessy; loving sister of Patrick and Tom Shaughnessy; dear friend of Eduardo Granados Garcia; dearest Godmother of Dani Carreno and Anthony DuVinage; our dear niece, great-niece, cousin and friend to many.Services:Funeral from KUTIS AFFTON Chapel, 10151 Gravois, Sat., Nov. 22, 9:15 a.m. to St. Bernadette Catholic Church for 10 a.m. Mass. Interment Calvary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions appreciated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Visitation Fri., 3-9 p.m.

[UPDATE #7:]

A paper written by Susan Shaughnessy in 2006 is available online entitled, "Community: Context and Fruit of Chastity."

It begins with a quote from Karol Wojtyla's "Love and Responsibility": "Love should be seen as something which in a sense never 'is' but is always 'becoming,' and what it becomes depends upon the contributions of both persons and the depth of their commitment."

The paper concludes with Susan's own words: "Here we see again concretely how community and chastity circumincesse to lead one fuller into the life of true love."

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |
Mar 19 2008

Play Date and Lunch

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The boys had a play date today with Ms. Cindy's kids. Look how perfectly well behaved they all are: Will, Nathan, Drew, Abigail and Adam. After the jump, see the five little monkeys in their natural environment.

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Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

On the second leg of the 2007 Heartland Tour Mary and the boys visited Mary's college friend Stacey and her three children, Jonathan, Nicholas and Alexandra in St. Louis. They were fortunate enough to time the visit to coincide with Alexandra's second birthday party.

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Stacey with Alexandra and Will.

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Will, Drew, Jonathan, Nicholas and Alexandra.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

New Year's Eve 2006-2007

On New Year's Eve, for the second time ever in Drew's 3+ years he got sick. He'd previously had a slight fever for an afternoon, but this time he was sick for real, throwing up 9 times. By the end of the day, he was able to hold down some soup, but he was in no condition to ring in the new year. So, once everything settled down, I joined my friends for New Years while Mary, Drew and Will stayed home.

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Harry and Beth really out did themselves this year with perfectly cooked fillets and huge Alaskan King Crab legs along with a number of homemade side dishes. Dessert was a chocolate fountain with everything you could ever think of for dipping. It was a huge success.

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Morgan and Doug really enjoyed the chocolate! Doug's hamming it up...just like his dad.

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On the left, our hosts, Beth and Harry. On the right, Jon was in from California. He's no longer working on the space shuttle's guidance system and is now working on a super-duper secret project he couldn't talk about, only that his work was still guidance related. I'm hoping it's some kind of massive treaty violating space weapon!

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On the left, Henry, Sheila, Morgan and Doug. And, on the right, JR, Lisa and dog.

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |

Over Christmas we got together with my college roommate, Jon Platt, and his family. He had the terrific idea of getting our families together at the Chicago Botanical Garden where they had on display the Wonderland Express miniature train exhibit.

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The 10,000 square foot exhibit featured 750,000 twinkling lights, 75 miniature Chicago landmarks handcrafted from all natural materials and 9 different model trains.

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The landmarks included all the famous buildings Chicago is known for as well as hidden gems such as a tiny Mrs. O'Leary's cow, Sue the T-Rex and a Michael Jordan statue.

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The trains ran over bridges, under trestles, past waterfalls and included a variety of passenger and freight trains with steam and diesel engines.

Click on "continue reading" for more pictures of the grounds, wildlife, sculptures and family.

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Despite being the "off season" the gardens were very beautiful. The chilly weather also meant there were almost no other people which made the stroll through the gardens that much more peaceful and enjoyable.

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This is a view of the very beautiful Japanese Garden.

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I couldn't help but take a number of reflection shots. In the middle of the last one is the Memorial Bell Tower which features 40 bronze bells cast in Holland. It is one of very few hand-played carillons in the nation and very much reminded these University of Illinois grads of the Altgeld Hall Tower bells.

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These are balls of Christmas lights which are quite spectacular lit up at night.

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On the left is the top of the Guardian, by Simon Verity (English b. 1945), created in 1992 of Minnesota limestone, Arizona jasper, Arkansas quartz and Portuguese copper. On the right is the Composition in Stainless Steel #1 created in 1985 by Gidon Graetz (Israeli b. 1929).

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This is the bronze sculpture of Carolus Linnaeus created in 1982 by Robert Berks (American b. 1922). Linnaeus (1707-1778) was a Swedish physician and father of modern taxonomy who established binomial nomenclature, the international system of naming plants and animals that is still in use today with modification.

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There were plenty of ducks and geese taking advantage of the mild conditions.

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Catherine and Drew called a truce to King-of-the-Hill atop a rock with the inscription: "May the peace of this garden bring you contentment."

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Thanks to the ever prepared Eagle Scout Jon, we were able to travel in style in one of their double strollers. Unfortunately, I didn't get any good pictures of Charles and Harrison...they're fast!

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The Danz's at the Chicago Botanical Garden.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

The day after Christmas we visited Dan and Michelle Mosier and Mike and Tonia Timlin. We all attended the University of Illinois together...a long time ago. We hadn't seen each other in years and, yet, it seems like it was just yesterday. In addition to getting up to speed on current events, we swapped old memories of our college days. Some of the things that happened at U of I you just wouldn't believe if you weren't there.

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From left to right, Alyssa "Aly," Darren, Mark, Drew, Nicole and Will. All of their kids were amazingly well behaved. Everyone played together really well and put up with each other's good-natured teasing like it was no big deal. They were all very nice to Drew who had such a great time, he wanted to spend the night and kept asking if we were going back the rest of the week.

Click "continue reading" to see family portraits.

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The Mosiers: Dan, Michelle, Nicole and Alyssa "Aly."

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The Timlins: Darren, Mike, Mark and Tonia.

I hope we don't wait so long to get together again.

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |

087cross.jpgWe just received news that Janice Harvey, a friend of Mary's family, frequent reader and occasional commenter here, passed away today. She was only 32 and engaged to be married next year.

I remember her for making the world's worst cheesecake and always being incredibly nice to everyone. Rest in peace.

Posted by Don | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0) |

420-drew-hope.jpgDrew's friend Hope came over today. She is just four months older than Drew. Although they had met before, they had never played together. They instantly hit it off, playing with Drew's toys which he did a great job of sharing. Later, they went to the park by our house and had such a great time playing on the slide and other equipment that Drew talked about it for a week afterwards.



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Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

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Of all the cards we received this past holiday season, two stand out. The first is part of a thank you note a friend sent in response to a donation we made in the name of his father who had passed away.

"It seems there was a period when we were all getting married, then all having kids...now perhaps we're in another state of life."

It's amazing how quickly time passes. And, now, it seems that it is passing faster than ever.

The second is an excerpt from a letter of friends of my parents. It is unbelievable:

"In February we toured Cambodia, Thailand, Myranmar and Laos...as always we climbed the temples, rode the elephants, rode the bamboo rafts and long-tail boated up and down the River Kwai."

"We are celebrating our 60th anniversary by taking a riverboat down the Rhone River to be in Marseilles on the 26th."

I hope I'm half that active and having that much fun when I retire. As for our 60th wedding anniversary, I just hope I'm still eating solid food.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Sep 25 2005

Going Away Party

267partyinside.jpgSaturday night we had a going away party for one of my coworkers. She and I worked together at a prior firm in 2001. She left that firm for our current firm a few months before I did and we've worked together ever since. She will be rejoining her family in New York who had moved out here while she was in school but who then shortly thereafter all moved back to New York abandoning her in Oklahoma. She's been a good friend and will be greatly missed.

268partyoutside.jpgWe had twenty-four people attend the party. Some thought it was bigger and some thought it was smaller than our last firm get together at our house two years ago. I can't remember myself. I just know we all had a great time.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

237johnmckay.jpgWe went to a funeral today for a friend of ours, John McKay. He was just 47. He contracted meningitis two weeks ago, then suffered a massive stroke, and passed away Wednesday this week. He and his wife of twenty-two years, Paula, have one son, fifteen-year old Ross.

There are few people in this world that you can only say good things about and John was one of those few. From being a strong Christian to having an incredible sense of humor and running his own consulting business, John was a uniquely wonderful man. Rightly or wrongly, I often judge people by their children and while Ross is still just a teen, Paula and John have obviously been ideal parents.

During the services for John, they played a video montage of his life. I couldn't help but think that the video ended too soon and, indeed, it had. John will be greatly missed.

Posted by Don | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0) |

087cross.jpgThe wife of my friend and co-worker, who offices next to me, was pregnant with twin girls due in December--Autumn Grace and Lauren Elizabeth. About four weeks ago she lost one of the girls, but was still carrying her. Then last week she lost the other. After a half-day in the office on Friday, Mary, Drew and I drove to Illinois for the wake, stayed for the funeral on Saturday and then drove back Saturday night so that I could work Sunday getting done what I didn't finish on Friday. It was all very tiring and emotionally draining.

It was important for me to attend not only because I was the only person who would be attending from work but also because I remember how much it meant to me when my friends, that I hadn't even contacted, showed up at my father's funeral last December. Not only did their showing up mean a lot to me, but also the fact that they just hung around for what seemed like a couple of hours really helped that day. If at all possible, I wanted to do the same.

The trip was Drew's tenth out-of-state journey in just eleven months. He's a great traveler.

Posted by Don | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0) |
Sep 11 2004

Remembering Mari-Rae

Mari-Rae was a classmate of mine in 5th through 12th grades. I recently got around to scanning in some photos of her I had from 6th grade. The memories are sharper than the photos. She would have been 38 years old, this the third anniversary of her death.

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From www.mari-rae.net:

Having boarded American Airlines Flight 77 at Washington Dulles International Airport early in the morning of September 11, 2001, Mari-Rae Sopper had no idea that she and thousands of other innocents would become part of a national tragedy. Ironically, Mari-Rae had served at the Pentagon during her tenure in the Navy JAG Corps.

From Wall of Americans:

Mari-Rae Sopper, the women's gymnastics coach at UC Santa Barbara, was aboard one of the flights downed by terrorists. She was traveling on the American Airlines flight from Washington that crashed into the Pentagon, according to a list released by the airline. Sopper was hired as coach less than two weeks ago. She had been an assistant coach and choreographer for the U.S. Naval Academy's women's gymnastics team before taking the job at UCSB. She also served as a graduate assistant at the University of Denver for one year, as the floor exercise coach and choreographer for the Colorado Gymnastics Institute for three years, and as a junior Olympic gymnastics coach in Dallas for three more years. In high school, Sopper was honored as the outstanding senior gymnast in Illinois in 1984. She graduated from Iowa State in 1988 and received a master's in athletic administration from North Texas in 1993. Three years later, she graduated from the University of Denver College of Law. "She was an incredible person who had done so much in her life," said Lesley Ross, a sophomore gymnast at UCSB. "She had an awesome attitude and was so in love with the sport. She was getting us all pumped up to come back." Simkins said the teammates she has spoken with still plan to compete this year. "I think we just have to keep going, take everything what's happened into our season, and try to come out of it even stronger," she said. "We can't go out like cowards."

Posted by Don | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (1) |