This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26, 2011 - the allure of Sally

Recently I visited a friend. Her name is Sally Maguire. She’s dying.

We all are, I suppose. But Sally, age 85 83, has a rare and fast-moving cancer. It started in her sinus cavities, and quickly spread to the rest of her body.

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.


  1. Thanks loads, Jamie. I met Sally number of years ago when she was the next door neighbor of a friend in Perry Park. A very gracious lady who shared with me some of the Douglas County history she was working on.

  2. As a brand new want-to-be-resident of Douglas County (after being hired at the library in 1998) I discovered when I arrived that there weren't any apartments available in Castle Rock for another 2 weeks after my new job started. Sally very very kindly let me stay in her basement for those 2 weeks, and I too discovered her charm and loveliness. She is one of my heroes, astute and articulate, with a touch of feistiness that I hope some day to emulate.

  3. When I first came here, my wife and daughter had to stay up in Greeley to try to sell the house. When Sally and Francis went off to Europe, they offered their house so I could reunite my family for a week. That "welcome to our home!" is so like both of them.

  4. Sally told me after she saw this that I'd gotten her age wrong. It's 83, not 85. Mea culpa.