Tuesday, August 22, 2017

94 Years Remembered in 94 Days-Post 46 (Passing of a good friend and the inluence of my mom)

Last February, I got a call late on a Friday afternoon about the passing of a very dear friend from Douglas, Laura Roth Hogan.     Laura and I had reconnected on Facebook several years ago and had seen each other from time to time.    Laura was very involved in Arizona Democratic Politics and she always, always said that it was because of my mom that she became interested.   And she would specifically say that it was the night of the Presidential Election for John F. Kennedy when she knew it was her destiny.    We had a party at our house that night with the Hubers, Bradys and Roths to watch the election.

Laura had been very helpful to me during my recent election to the school board.   She gave me a donation personally and would have arranged more donations but running in Gilbert is a different ball game.    She and I laughed through the months when I would tell her stories and she always brought my mom's name up.  It warmed my heart.

Laura's husband died about a year before and so her friends in Tucson were arranging the services.  I was honored to be asked to do the eulogy about her early life because they all knew the background with my mom.   Carolyn Warner, a legend in Democratic politics in Arizona, was the other speaker.  I was certainly in great company!

Here is what I said that day:

It is an honor for me to be standing before you to speak about my dear friend, Laura Roth Hogan.  Laura and I grew up in Douglas.   Our families were very good friends and my mom and her mom were very close.  I don’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t know Laura.

Laura was two years behind me in school.   We attended Loretto Catholic School and St. Luke’s Catholic Church together.   During those years at elementary school, most of our social and family activities took place through school and parish activities.

I remember our moms visiting with each other a lot and as a result, Laura and I were together often.   Although there were two years difference in our ages, we were still friends.   I have such fond memories of those days.

During the Presidential election in 1960, there were four families  (the Hubers, Bradys Roths and mine) who got together to watch the debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.    Of course, our families were all strong Democrats but more importantly, JFK was the first Catholic presidential candidate.   And for my family, we added in the Irish part!

One of my most vivid memories of our childhood was Tuesday night, November 8, 1960.  All four families with probably a combined 16 kids including Frances and Bernard, Laura’s brother and sister,  gathered at our house for dinner and to watch the election. In later years, Laura told me because of that night and because of my mother, Margaret Shannon, she became very interested in politics.   I wish my mom could have heard those words from Laura and I wish she could have seen the work that Laura did for the Democratic party and for Arizona women.   She would have been very proud that she was Laura’s inspiration.   I know that I am very proud of Laura’s accomplishments.

Like many friendships, I lost touch with Laura for many years.   She was an incredibly brilliant student and received a National Merit Scholarship to Michigan State University. 

We reconnected a few years ago because of social media.   And I am so glad that we did.    Our friendship became even stronger and I will always value our adult friendship, maybe even more than our friendship as children.

Having been an educator for many years, I love children’s literature.  My favorite book ever is entitled “The Last Dance” by Carmen Agra Deedy.   In this beautiful story of the circle of life and the importance of family, the grandfather tells his grandchildren that every human has the right to three things in life:

            To Dance.  The great thing in life is not so much to dance well, but whether     one   is willing    dance at all.

            To Sing, Even if you sing off-key, the crow has as much right to a voice as the nightingale.

            To Tell Stories.  Those we love are never really gone as long as their stories are told.

Laura’s stories will live on through the countless lives that she has touched in her service to Arizona List and her hard work and passion for labor issues, women’s rights, and getting local women candidates  elected.   Laura’s stories will also be told by the many people whose lives she touched with her dedication to these causes. 

 I recently ran and was elected to the Governing Board of the Gilbert Unified School District.  Laura was one of my biggest supporters and we talked often over the last several months as I  went through my campaign.  Gilbert is a conservative community so you can imagine some of the talks that we had!

 I would like to thank Laura for being such a good friend for more than 60 years.   Because of my Irish heritage, I find comfort in Irish blessings.

And so my dear friend, Laura:

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hands!

There is a little more to this story that I am going to share.   On Thanksgiving of 1972 (I believe), the Roths were supposed to have Thanksgiving dinner with us.   Laura and her sister, Frances, were away at college.  I had been teaching for about a year.  

I remember setting the table with all of the good china.   A little bit later we heard a lot of sirens, but didn't think much about it.   About an hour later, my mom got a call from the priest telling us that Bernard, Laura's 16 year old brother, had shot and killed both of her parents.

Laura was in college in Michigan and she couldn't be found right away.  I remember going up to Tucson that Saturday night and picking her up at the airport.    She only knew that her parents were dead and nothing else so I had to tell her what little I knew.   

My mom and Teresa were both devastated by these deaths, especially about how it happened.   I thought a lot of Laura through the years and I am so glad we were able to reconnect.   I don't think that she remembered that I picked her up that night and we never talked about what happened.

Laura was honored last fall by being inducted into the Arizona Democratic Hall of Fame.   I was honored to be her guest that night.

And again that night, Laura told me that all of this was because of one woman, my mom, Margaret Shannon!!

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