We all are, I suppose. But Sally, age
Francis, her husband, died 14 years ago. “It would be nice,” Sally said, “if I believed that I’d see him again when I died.” She looked me straight in the eyes. “But I don’t.”
Sally doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Neither did Francis. There are no cards for secular humanists (I think); but if there were, she could carry one.
Yet, she told me, she wasn’t afraid to die. She’d had a good, long run, and wasn’t interested in extraordinary measures, extraordinary stress and nausea, that would buy her just a few more months.
Instead, she believed that her prognosis – more and more sleep, less and less appetite – didn’t sound like a bad way to leave the world.
Sally and Francis were two of the first people I met in Douglas County. They had a lot to do with why I decided to come here. Any place with people like them, I figured, had to be good.
It took me a while to realize that Sally and Francis would have been rare anywhere.
Sally hailed from the east coast. She attended a fine women’s college there – it eventually merged with Rutgers. Later, she worked in the world of New York PR. She retained, all her life, a passion for clear and grammatical prose.
Sally was also a much-decorated volunteer for the library. She gave many hours to the now long gone Perry Park Library. She was there at the very beginning of our Douglas County History Research Center, and in fact contributed to local history in "The Perry Park Story" (available at the Douglas County Libraries).
Sally was also one of the brains behind the 1990 campaign that formed our library district, and the 1996 campaign that secured our current mill levy.
And she was there at the old Philip S. Miller Library on Plum Creek Boulevard my very first week. She provided me a steady stream of newspaper clippings about all my predecessors.
Most of those folks didn’t last very long. Sometimes, the reasons were … exotic. No Douglas County library director has ever been run out of town on a rail. But a time or two, it’s been close.
It was a good orientation for a new director.
My wife Suzanne and I were frequent guests at the Maguires. They were unfailingly witty, urbane, and engaging hosts.
When last I visited their beautiful home, Sally showed me a photo from her 1955 honeymoon. She and Francis were sitting in Galatoire’s Restaurant (209 Bourbon Street).
Francis looked like he always did – sharp, animated, and a little quirky. Sally looked both gamin and radiant. The photograph captured a fetching gaze.
If I’d been around back then (as a contemporary, I mean), I would given Francis a run for his money.
I would have lost, of course. Francis was a Harvard man, just back from India. I went to a state college. I was outgunned. But a boy can dream.
Finally, none of us gets out alive. But Sally remains for me – always – the model of graciousness, an allure that is both sophisticated and real.
[Note: Sally Lovelace Ward Maguire was born July 6, 1927, in Danbury, CT to Helen and Conrad Ward. She died at her home in Perry Park, Larkspur, CO on July 25, 2011.]
Last week’s column by David Farnan seems to have stirred up a lot of curiosity.
He asked,” In which book was the significance of a literary work not what was written but what it was written with?"
The answer? First, let me say, as David said to me, that you really should read the book.
But he read it, and still didn’t know. The Battle of the Books kids did, though. The answer is “Shakespeare’s Secret,” by Elise Broach. See page 172. The literary work (a poem) was "written with a diamond on her window at Woodstock."
Additional reading lists can be found on our web page:
LaRue's Views are his own.