“All was wine and roses until 1985 when she was diagnosed as a victim of that devastating disease known as Alzheimer’s.”
That was my dad in 1991 talking about his wife on the occasion of the dedication of the Sauder Alumni Center. Dad made the lead gift to honor mom. She lived another 12 years passing away in 03 after 13 years at the Presbyterian Manor.
On the 15th of this month the ESU Foundation celebrated 25 years in the Alumni Center. It was a wonderful, glorious, but emotional day - so much to celebrate but also so much to remember.
Dad’s gift wasn’t his first to Emporia State nor would it be his last – it was just the most memorable.
Mom’s life with Alzheimer’s obviously changed lots of things for her, my dad me and my siblings and the university.
What we like to remember are the things that represent the love affair my mom and dad had for one another. To say the doted on one another would be an understatement. After mom got ill dad cared for her taking clean clothes and other needs to her daily at the Manor.
But theirs wasn’t the only love going on. Love might be too strong a word to describe what happened between my dad and Emporia State, but it’s close!
When you lose your partner to something like Alzheimer’s you obviously are left with a void. Dad could care for mom and he had his work which had consumed him for too many hours for too many days, but he needed something else.
Two other men were involved. I’m not sure exactly how. But between them they set a fire.
Gruff old Larry Kramer, the football coach and just as crusty Joe Cannon get the blame. Kramer became coach in 1983 and soon after found out he could get a beer after practice at Earl’s house. They were a lot alike and something clicked. Joe was the person asking Earl for the lead gift for the Alumni Center. They had met working on funding for the Presbyterian Manor and became good friends.
Who ever or for what reason dad got adopted by ESU – its’ coaches, its’ president and many others. It was very good.
So good in fact my sister and brother and I believe dad’s association with the university probably added ten years to his life. He died in 06.
The 25 year re-dedication brought back great memories like: Dad saying “Today, I feel like the luckiest man in the world,” and “In her honor, the dearest, sweetest person I have ever known, I dedicate this building.”
Let me close with maybe his most famous line. Earl Sauder loved to ask for donations for Alzheimer’s or the United Way or Emporia State and say “Don’t give until it hurts, give until it feels good.”
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