2002 will probably go down as the most emotional year thus far for the Highpointers Club.
Not only did we lose Jack Longacre, but we also lost Clark Hall, who was also one of the original 9 highpointers who summited Arvon at the eventful 1988 Convention #1.
Within weeks of Jack's passing, Kenton Merc co-owner Marsha Griggs who brought us so much cheer (and good food) at the Oklahoma convention died. A few days before Clark Hall died, Highpointer John Biggs died in an accident on Mount Hood in which 3 were killed and a rescue helicopter crashed.
And as if this were not enough, Highpointers spontaneously embraced the "Flags Above America" concept to produce a poster that prompted the thanks from the likes of former New York Mayor Rudolph Guilliani and President Bush.
Then there was gunfire on Jerimoth Hill.
It's been quite a year. Adversity certainly has brought out the best in the Club.
Jack's passing for me was a personal loss. Since becoming Chairman, I always enjoyed having to phone Jack to discuss issues with the one email-challenged member of the Board. In him, I found what I considered a like-minded ally in the direction of the Club. The fact that I am a native of Missouri was the icing on the cake (I enjoyed getting Missouri's Governor Bob Holden to declare Nov. 16 "Jack Longacre Day" in the State of Missouri"). I will always be grateful that his last words to me were "Thank you." Jack had an almost cosmic sense of the Club's direction. He may be gone but he is definitely going to be with us for sometime.
There are some administrative issues following Jack's passing. First off, Don Holmes has been elected to succeed Jack as President. Almost from the beginning the Club's direction has always been defined by Jack and Don. It will be nice to know that we will still have Don's star shining brightly in the Club's firmament. I was personally very grateful to be able to spend more time with Don during Jack's memorial service in Missouri. Don is always there for the Club. If you don't know it personally just look in the past newsletters to see all the accounts of how Don rolls his sleeves up in many, many ways.
However there may be some changes coming. The Club bylaws adopted in 1999 placed term limits of two-terms (6 years) on Board members. Assuming Don runs and is re-elected in 2003. He would have to "retire" for at least one year in 2006.
Other directors up for re-election for a final term are Dave Covill, Bob Failing, Jean Trousdale and Diane Winger. An article is elsewhere in the newsletter describes the process if you would like to run for the Board.
Before moving on from the topic of Jack, I would also like to point out a few other things which might not be mentioned in this "Jack" issue. I want to thank John Mitchler who drove to Missouri in May when things looked very bleak to pick up archives and discuss an orderly transition with Jack. Dave and Beckie Covill do a lot of things for the Club and don't toot their own horns. You should know they spent a week of their vacation earlier this year running errands for Jack, cleaning his house, and helping him cast his ballot on a vote for the Vin Hoeman Award.
As a side note the Board has voted to rename the Highpointers Summa Cum Laude Award the Jack Longacre Award. You can't do better than getting a "Jack." Paul Zumwalt received the first award in 2001 in Maryland (I was very grateful to see him make it to the Missouri memorial despite having a pacemaker installed three days before). Jack received the second award in Oklahoma.
No set of thank yous can pass without of course acknowledging the Mother of All Jack Helpsds -- Jean Trousdale. If I could bestow sainthood, she would get it. Over the course of the year, she made repeated trips to Missouri from Oklahoma to run errands for Jack and work on editing and publishing his memoirs "Keep Klimbin'" which incidentally is the first book to be published with a copyright owned by the Highpointers Club. Jean is coordinating the effort to scatter Jack's ashes on the summits.
A lengthy interview with elsewhere in this newsletter.
Oklahoma seemed to been the focus of so much this year. It was devastating to hear the news about Marsha. Another article (including my comments published in Oklahoma newspapers) is elsewhere.
I enjoyed spending time with Jack and Joyce Parsell (also members of the original Michigan 9) at the Oklahoma Convention during the Tri-Pointing expedition. We have New York in common. Jack is devastated over the loss of Clark Hall who accompanied him on expeditions to the tri-points and low points. Jack underwent hip surgery in November and we will have more on him the next newsletter.
Two other members of the Michigan 9 -- George Johnson and Dennis Whitehead were also at the Missouri memorial.
And of course it was wonderful getting to know Jack's daughter Lorie Kronz and brother George who may disagree with Jack's wishes (e.g., cremation), but none-the-less have graciously permitted the process to begin. Lorrie's son, Eric Kronz (Jack's grandson) incidentally was one of the Michigan 9.
Also at the Missouri memorial were Jean's Oklahoma neighbors Bill and Lee Strickland who helped out so much with Jack at the Missouri 1999 convention hosted by Jack and at the Oklahoma Convention. It's hard to believe that a full bird coronal be so personable. Bill suffered a stroke following the Missouri memorial but is doing better.
It was fitting with all this adversity that Tom Hillman who accompanied John Biggs on the ill-fated May Hood climb was at the Oklahoma convention. Tom, a Methodist minister, has a spiritual "at peace" view of things which has been helpful in dealing with everything.
As we enter 2003, I want to add a couple more thanks for initiative. Many thanks to Diane Winger who has become the volunteer coordinator. We always have lots to do but often are not good at coordinating it. Diane's task will be formidable. And special thanks to Craig Noland who gave us those magnificent information cards and is in the process of chasing down lost souls whose memberships have lapsed.
So there you go, everything that has happened in the past year is tied together in some cosmic manner. For a hobby that is very much based on individual achievement, it sure seems we have a lot of team players. I probably haven't thanked or mentioned as many people as I should have in this column. There were so many this year.
2002 was a difficult year. But I can't say it was a bad one.