One of the greatest joys of my life, next to my family, is friends. And now I want to share a few stories.
Pictured above is our visit this week with Bill Stofft and his wife, Pat Gates Stofft. We all became friends in South Dakota when we went to church camp together in the Black Hills. Pat, who was from Custer SD, came to Pierre when her dad served in the SD House of Representatives. We served as pages in the legislature. Our mothers both attended Carleton College in MN which we discovered in an early conversation. We graduated in 1955 and both attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where we were sorority sisters as well. Pat and Bill give me the credit for their long-running marriage, since I originally introduced them. (I'm happy to take credit for that!) The Stoffts winter in the Black Hills where we have visited them, and winter in the Phoenix area, where we have seen them several times. Bill is currently helping us prepare for a trip next June when we plan to visit the Battle of the Bulge area, staying in Bastogne, Bill served as the Chief of Military History on the General Staff - and is quite a resource for us as we plan this brief trip, as you can imagine. What an adventure it is to keep crossing paths with such dear friends who have been so critical in my own life since I was a highschooler.
One last story of an adventure of friendship. This is my brother, Jim, who lives in Phoenix. His friend is Nancy Howard, who lives in Scottsdale. BUT Nancy grew up in Aurora MO (where Jerry served his second pastorate) and her grandparents were from Crane MO (Jerry's hometown, of course.) Jim and Nancy both served in the Air National Guard in AZ. One day Jim went in to the medical facility for some kind of a check-up, and Nancy was the nurse. In the casual chatting you do in that situation, Jim asked Nancy where she was from - and her stock answer (same as Jerry gives) was "a little town in the Ozarks of MO." (Because who has ever heard of Aurora, right?) My brother pressed some more, asking her what town. "southwest of Springfield", to which Jim pressed some more: "whats the name of the town." Nancy finally said "Aurora MO." Jim's next question really threw Nancy - he asked "What church did you go to?" Nancy's guard is now up, for she is sure this Air National Guard person was about to try and convert her to something! So she said "Oh, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Presbyterian." Jim said "Did you know Jerry Hilton?" Nancy was amazed and told him "of course, and how do you know him?" When Jim told her that Jerry was his brother-in-law, they were both stunned. Ever since then, when we come to AZ for a visit, we get to see Nancy as well, and last week Jim joined us for brunch with Nancy and Otto.
Friends are truly a great gift from God, and we treasure each one!