Karen Armonies was small and soft-spoken, with a delicate beauty and physical grace everyone noticed. She was exceptionally kind. Even in the seventh grade, when the rest of us were a total mess, Karen had the maturity and rare ability to make us - her hopelessly awkward and insecure peers - feel good about ourselves. She had a way of laughing at our jokes that would actually make you believe you were the funniest person on earth.
I know just what she's doing in her new home -- making the hopelessly awkward and insecure angels feel good about themselves. Bless our sweet Karen. I can almost hear the beautiful sound of her laughter from here.
I had not seen Tom Arnold for about 45 years when I learned of his death from an internet search for some of my childhood buddies. Even after having been out of touch for so long, I was saddened and felt I had lost a part of who I was while growing up on Beard Avenue. It good to have this opportunity to briefly recall a few childhood memories.
Tom lived five houses down from me, and I probably spent more time with him during our Audubon School years than with any other friend . We both felt perfectly comfortable just walking into the others house, and each set of parents treated us like family. His dad was one of the coaches of our Audubon softball/baseball teams. I have posted photo of our fourth grade team on this website.
We did the usual horsing around as young kids – riding our bikes out of the neighborhood when we were not supposed to; pea shooting at cars on 39th street; and even briefly experimenting with a few cigarettes with another friend, Bobby Smutka, in the bushes in the field across France Ave during the summer before sixth grade grade. Ugh!! Tom was the star of the neighborhood kick-the-can games held in my family's front yard at 4000 Beard.
Tom was an enthusiastic kid. I remember my dad lobbing a baseball to him 27 times before he made contact. He refused to quit, a trait that he likely carried into his adult life.
Tom loved cars. He was always excited to play with his slot cars or to ride his home-made coaster “car” down the hill on 40th street. My only visit to Raceway Park was Tom's birthday party. As he got older he could be seen working on his own car in the family driveway. He ended up supporting his wife and family running a garage in Northern Minnesota.
Tom and his new wife suddenly and tragically became the parents of his wife's younger siblings after his in-laws were killed in a car accident shortly after he and his wife got married. I know through Tom's parents that he took on this task with total courage and commitment.
When the kids from the two Catholic grade schools fed into Southwest on that first day of 9th grade, I thought they were like a huge, squirming litter of puppies...exploding with wiggly energy, guffawing, yipping and yapping, bursting with laughter, teasing each other while being wildly free and friendly with the rest of us, who just stood and stared, mouths agape. Cathy Brown was among these irresistibly likeable kids.
Cathy was a very kind girl and a very pretty girl. I remember in the winter of 9th grade she added four new outfits to her wardrobe. She looked like a million bucks in these clothes. Each outfit was composed of a box-pleated wool skirt and matching lamb's wool sweater. One outfit was a soft blue, one was pink, one aqua, and one winter white, but this last one was different in that it had a pattern of little brown leafless trees on the sweater. Who, I ask you, remembers stuff like that!?! Well, I did. I guess I was impressed and inspired by her great fashion sense at that tender age. (But the truth is she would have looked pretty in anything.)
The next year Cathy and I were dating a couple of senior boys who were friends, and we had a few double dates together. So I got to know her a little better. I learned that this kind and pretty girl was also very shy and modest and humble.
There weren't a lot of kids in the mid-'60s who were able to bypass the requisite awkwardness and messiness the teenage years. But Cathy did. Along with her many enviable qualities, she had grace.
Cathy Brown really had it going on. Yet she was the last person on earth who knew this. But here's the thing about Cathy: If she ever had been made aware of it, she wouldn't be one bit different than exactly the way she was.
The man could do the limbo! After he won the contest at the __th class reunion, I never saw him again. I always wondered why this genuinely popular guy didn't show up anymore. In h.s. I told him about the vacancy at Baskin Robbins 31 flavors on 50th & Penn,after I got fired. He appreciated the tip. I imagine he drew in a good crowd, especially of the female persuasion. God bless you, Mr. Cain.
From Rich Cohen on February 3rd, 2019
I met Tom in home room 29 which is where the put the band kids in 7th grade. He played trumpet.
I remember him coming to school in clothing that made a strong personal statement. He was once sent home having facial hair that was felt not appropriate. How times have changed!!
Declining with a dementia is a horrible thing. My sympathies to friends and family
I miss Phil Campbell. He’s been gone thirty years now and I still really miss him. Phil and I were very good buds in high school, and that continued, despite the miles that separated us, through our college years and beyond, until life really started to pull us in different directions. As callow youths, though, Phil and I had a great “friends” run. We got together often to laugh and joke, and talk about girls, I suppose, and just plain old hang out. And we made music – voice and guitar, as they say. That’s what I remember, and miss, the most. I could keep up with Phil pretty well on guitar, and I had the better voice, but he was way out of my league as a performer; unlike me, he loved the spotlight, which made him the better singer. And so, because of him, we performed, not just for ourselves (though we did that a lot), but in public a few times, at some Campbell family friends’ occasional parties, way out in the ‘burbs somewhere. Scared the pants off timid Jeff, of course, but Phil loved it, Phil shined [shone?]. And maybe we even made pretty decent music? We couldn’t have been too awful, I figure, or they wouldn’t have invited us back. But probably what mostly carried us through was Phil’s exuberant and infectious joy at giving an audience the gift of music. I wish I could find that joy. And I wish that my buddy Phil hadn’t died so young.
Tom Dobbs died five years ago. After his funeral I sent his family the following letter:
Tom was very special to me. In the ninth grade I worked up the nerve to ask him to Sweetheart Swing. He brought me a corsage of white tea roses. It was the only one I ever saved, and I still have it. Whenever he and I were toether, we were laughing.
When Tom was diagnosed with his illness at the age of about 25, I visited him several times at the old Minneapolis General Hospital. I realize this was the beginning of a long and very difficult journey for Tom, as well as his entire family. His death seems like the second time you lost Tom.
What I can tell you for certain is that his classmates - 45 years after leaving high school - still remember him vividly. Tom was very popular at Southwest...popular for all the right reasons. He was very smart with a razor-sharp wit, sensitive and good to others and an astute observer of people...not to mention his athetic prowess and good looks. He was an exceptional young man.
Tom wasn't special only to me. He was a very positive force in a lot of lives. His memory is locked into the hearts of his many, many friends. It's important that you know this.
Dobbs, Thomas William "Tom" Tom was born in Minneapolis on May 20, 1948, and died in Saint Louis Park on June 16, 2011. Tom was preceded in death by his father Dick, his mother Arle, and his brother, Lanny. He is survived by his brothers, Randy (Julie) and Rich (Kim) and sister, Denise Hafermann (Dave). Memorials to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Tom will be buried at Forest Hill Cemetery, Milaca, MN. Service for Tom and Lanny 11 AM Wednesday, June 22, vistation 9-11 AM all at: Washburn-McReavy Edina Chapel 952-920-3996 West 50th St. & Hwy 100.
Dick Duggan was my best friend. I knew him so well for such a long time, that it’s hard for me to find just the right words to say. But here goes…
I think a good description of Dick would be “a diamond in the rough.” On the outside, he certainly did not have the polish of, say, today’s metro-sexual male. Nor did he have what might be called “physical grace in an indoor setting.” Dick and I would meet for coffee or a meal nearly every day. And I would always try to guide him to the inside of a booth or to a chair by the wall since he had a habit of gesturing with wild enthusiasm as he told his stories. Believe me, there were many water glasses and coffee cups tipped over on the table, along with a few trays - once held by waitresses - that Dick sent flying.
Another thing that Dick was not…he was not a sophisticate. Yet, he was worldly. Jeanne always wanted to invite him to our parties because - besides being an eligible bachelor and a wildly unrestrained dancer - Dick was a very interesting man. He knew a lot. And he told such wonderful stories. She loved to have him at our table, even though it put the fate of her grandmother’s china at dangerously high risk.
But his stories were well-worth the collateral damage. Dick sure knew how to tell a tale. And this is why: because he had lived them. Dick Duggan was a true adventurer. If you grew up in the ‘50s, as we all did, you were smitten with characters like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Men who wrestled the wilds of nature, and came out the winner. But then you grew up… and eventually became part of the civilized world.
But Dick never gave up the dream. He followed it to Alaska where he led a life as rugged and as adventurous as it gets. (Think “Deadliest Catch.“) For 18 years Dick’s life was on the line doing his job in the Bering Sea. He was smacked down on deck by a 300 pound halibut…lost a wing landing his Piper Cub airplane…and was chased off a remote island by an pissed-off bear. Yup, in Alaska Dick Duggan was in his element.
And his lust for adventure never left his blood. Even in the last year of his life, when he was recuperating from a heart attack and suffering from vertigo and cancer, he talked about returning to Alaska to shuttle workers to the new pipeline project.
Nothing in this world made Dick happier than his sons, Sam and Ben. And he talked about those boys all the time. Not that I minded. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know them both and I am really proud of them, too. (In fact, I would be honored if they considered me a third Irish uncle... the one who’s forever asking the musical question, “Who Let the Doogs Out?”)
As I’ve said, Dick Duggan may have been an unpolished diamond in the rough. But the guy radiated brilliance. I know I was lucky to have such a great friend as Dick for as long as I did. But I sure wish he could have stuck around longer before heading out to his next big adventure. Because I sure miss him.
DUGGAN - Richard Thomas "Dick" Departed on Saturday, February 5, 2011 at the age of 63. Dick was driven by a passion for adventure and thirsted for new experiences. He was an old-school adrenalin Junky, never satisfied by the routine of city life. As a career commercial fisherman in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, he made his mark among strong men and earned true respect from friends and family. He was a unique breed: gentle yet tough, compassionate and kind, savvy but modest. When coaxed to reveal his stories, people listened in awe of Dick's day-to-day heroics. He will be greatly missed. Preceded in death by his father, Richard; survived by two loving sons, Ben and Sam; sisters Susan and Sheila; brothers, Joseph and Steven; and mother Magna. The funeral was held Thursday, February 10, 2011 at Christ the King Church, Minneapolis, MN.
I'm writing this memorial to celebrate the life of my high school sweetheart and life-long friend. Craig was one of the most honorable, dedicated men I have ever met. He had a career as a police office which included being the police chief in Plymouth, MN from 1992 through 2004. When our sons were in high school, we found ourselves living in the same neighborhood. Craig spent his free time as a volunteer fireman. Our last conversation was about how many of our dreams had come true. Craig wanted, and had, a wonderful wife, three amazing children, and a distinguished life of service.
Gerdes, Craig C. age 64, of Plymouth, MN. Preceded in death by parents. Survived by wife, Katherine; children, Patricia (Paul) Widlarz, Thomas (Alyson) and Elizabeth; grandchildren, Andrew, Leah and Erin; sister, Phyllis Riedler; brother, David (Sandy); many nieces, nephews, family and friends. Interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Memorial service 10 AM Wednesday 10/16 at Normandale Hylands United Methodist Church, 9920 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington. Visitation one hour prior to service at church and Tuesday 10/15, 4-7 PM at: Washburn-McReavy.com Werness Brothers Chapel 2300 W Old Shakopee Rd 952-884-8145.
Patty walked the rocky path of adolescence with the rest of us, with our varying degree of difficulty. What I remember of Patty was a quiet, unassuming presence in our class, who I don't recall ever having had an unkind or judgemental word to say about anyone, and I am privileged to have had her as a classmate. She was so proud of her four children, which she told me about at the 25th reunion, and she had her pictures to show! She had alot of love, given and received, and I'm so happy for that reunion memory. Sweet Patty, gone too soon, rest in peace. Karen Sholl
Sorry to hear about Marys passing, and all of our classmates. One memory to share, she lived just about a block away from me, one day at lunch time, she knocked on our door, we lived on Vincent just across from Fulton, I must have been in 5 th or 6th grade, and she invited me to a dance or party? And of course I was terrified and made up some story why I could not go, my loss. Rest In Peace Mary
Dear Sweet Molly! Such a wonderful person, with such a warm personality and so many gifts, undermined by misfortune and ultimately ill health. I will always remember your warm smile and friendliness. I wish I would see you at the reunion..
I didn't know Sally very well in high school, but 30 years later I began a friendship with her while working together on the class reunion committee. And Oh what a woman she was!
To say Sally had an unbridled joie de vivre is a ridiculous understatement. She seemed to greet each new day like a 6-year-old on Christmas morning, leaping out of bed and bounding down the stairs to see what great stuff Santa had put in her stocking. To Sally EVERYTHING was exciting and filled with sparkling, promising possibilities. Even when life was handing her chicken shit* - and mounds of it - Sally knew how to transform it into not just chicken salad, but a full-fledged Thanksgiving Feast!
Sally had a voice that sounded like a beautiful, pure-toned crystal bell, and she had a spirit that actually floated on air. With each reunion, when the rest of us on the committee were so tired and weary of all the work involved and were throwing in the towel, there was Sally making fluffy bathrobes out of the pile of our tossed towels, along with matching slippers and turbans - pink for the girls and blue for the boys... And she would monogram each robe (SW66 in purple) and stuff all the pockets with trinkets and treats. Then she would make sure every classmate got a set, and, if there were any left over, she'd distribute them to poor people. Okay, this didn't happen exactly, but you get the picture.
Nothing seemed to get Sally down. Nothing could dampen her passion or dash her hopes. Nothing could ever douse her spirit or dull her sparkle. Even when she was swarmed by buzz kills, her light kept shining. Sally had a brilliance I've never seen in any one else on earth. She was forever radiant. The world needs more Sally Liebs, not less of them. She died way too soon, and I miss her very much.
The memory boards at this, our 50th reunion, are composed of all of the Southwest memorabilia Sally had saved...the pictures and news clippings and Arrows and keepsakes she so sweetly pasted into scrapbooks during our high school years. While you're perusing these memory boards, know that Sally's spirit is floating close by, making sure you see and enjoy everything. She loved to share. She loved to give. She was eternally filled with hope and joy and goodness. She was loved.
Our classmate Scott died while serving in the Navy in Vietman. He was in a plane that crashed and although he lived through the crash, he subsequently died from head injuries at the hospital in Da Nang.
Scott had a nickname - "Parnelli". I'm not sure how he acquired it - maybe he drove a fast car or drove recklessly. He was the first of my peers to die; probably this was true for most of us. What a tragic and sad loss to his friends and family. And when so many were enjoying college and living carefree lives, Scott had a sense of patriotism and bravery that was unknown to many.
Scott was a good guy who had many friends. Those of us who hung around with him enjoyed his wonderful sense of humor, great smile and infectuous laugh.
Below is an exerpt from his obituary. Unbeknown to most of us, he left quite a legacy. He was responsible for developing the Armed Forces Servicemens Center at the Minneapolis airport.
934th Airlift Wing (AFRC) Minneapolis-St. Paul IAP Air Reserve Station, Minn. September 2009 Vol. 31, No. 9
Home away from home at MSP
By Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Williams
934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The staff of the Armed Forces Serviceman’s Center at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport expects to hit an important milestone around Labor Day when the 750,000th military member walks through their doors.
Since the center’s opening in 1970 through Aug. 1, 2009, 748,609 military personnel have utilized the facility, which has never been closed despite snow storms, strikes, airport evacuations, aircraft groundings and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Now located on the Mezzanine level before the security checkpoints, it is one of only eight airport service centers in the United States that is always open day and night. “We have never, ever closed our doors in our entire history,” said Debra Cain, the center’s executive director.
“We had 16 Marines that were stranded here for five days when the airport closed following the Sept. 11 attacks. We even maintained our operations during the move to our present location back in 2002. We have never been closed.” The center was the brainchild of a young sailor from Minneapolis, ATN3 Ralph “Scott” Purdum. He stopped at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport service center run by the Travelers Aid Society in 1969, and thought it would be fitting to have a similar center at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Due to his active duty commitment, he enlisted the help of his mother to get the project moving. He never lived long enough to see his dream come true. At 11:25 a.m. on March 16, 1970, ATN3 Purdum was a crewmember aboard a Lockheed EC-121M “Warning Star,” tail number 145927, on an emergency approach into Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam, due to a malfunctioning No. 4 engine. The aircraft was waved off when another plane arrived onto the runway, but it was too late.
The No. 3 engine quit, the aircraft banked, and then crashed into a revetment before striking a hanger 300 yards east of the runway on the Air Force side of the base. The Warning Star disintegrated, leaving only the tail section intact. Twenty-three crew members, including ATN3 Ralph “Scott” Purdum, lost their lives in the accident. It was his first flight.
In a letter written two months after ATN3 Purdum’s death, his mother, Marjery, wrote, “We were told that he was one of the eleven that was taken from the plane alive, but he did not make it to the hospital. He died of a head injury and he was not burned.” Keeping the promise she made to her son, Marjery increased her efforts in making the Armed Forces Service Center a reality. “I wanted to finish the center even more then because one of his last letters said, ‘Mom, don’t give up on the room, it’s so needed,’” she said at the time.
We are always in need of volunteers, especially from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Just go to the website at www.mnafsc.org and download an application,” said Cain.
Forty years and three-quarters of a million people later, ATN3 Purdum’s legacy is still alive.
I didn't know Scott Purdum at all. We went to different grade schools; we ran in different circles at Southwest; and we certainly went in different directions afterwards. About 99% of everything I know about Scott (100% of the things of any importance) I learned from this lovely tribute. And yet, strangely, I've often felt his loss. As a long-time DC resident, I often visit the Vietnam Memorial -- usually while shepherding out-of-town guests here and there, but plenty of times just on my own, too. (It's a powerful, powerful space; make sure you carve out the time to experience it when you come to Washington.) Whenever I'm at the Memorial, I'm always compelled, for reasons I don't fully understand, to look up Scott's name in the register, and find it on the wall. It is so profoundly sad to me still, the horrible waste that that war represents, and here's the personification of it -- this kid, this kid from my high school class, not yet 22 years old, whose life was snuffed out before he had a chance to truly live it. Learning about his legacy really moved me. Thanks so much, Holly.
Linda Rambo and I were friends for almost 60 years. We met as classmates at Lake Harriet Grade School in 4th grade after she moved to the Linden Hills neighborhood. She might have been the funniest person I have ever known. To go "sliding" with Linda was allowing your life to be in her hands. You might fall off your sled or flying saucer while laughing your head off. When we were in junior high, her parents bought her a little sun fish. You can imagine how much fun we had on that thing. I doubt we were ever out of the water. She was kind of a glass is half full kind of gal, but that only added to her charm.
In high school, our little gang of girls was inseparable.
Over the years I saw Linda less often, but I always called her on her birthday. A few years ago, I stopped calling. Who knows why? When her younger son called me last spring, I knew it was not good news. He was calling Linda's old pals to tell them she had died. Not an easy call to make.
Linda was a single mother of two boys. Those boys have become fine men who loved their mother dearly and appreciated the sacrifices she made along the way.
Did I mention that aside from being funnier than most, she was kind and generous? If she could, she would be by your side. A good friend forever. I still think about her, and find it impossible that she is gone.
Dave was the love of my life as well as a wonderful young man to all his classmates. We all loved and respected him with great pride. He went on to build a wonderful life staying very close to his siblings with whom I'm close today. He is sorely missed and in my heart everyday. May he and all our classmates always rest in peace. Julie Gainsley.
I met Karen when we both went to Southwest HS. We had a lot of classes together, and we spent a lot of time together outside of school as well. Such a kind and sweet person! Karen was also absolutely brilliant, but she was such an unassuming person that people many not have known it. We went to Cathedral in the Pines camp together and just had some wonderful times. Eventually, Karen ended up in California and we stayed in touch via holiday cards. She was an elementary school teacher and wrote books; I still have the cookbook for children that she wrote. Her daughters excelled in life, and her family was clearly a very close and happy one. The pictures of Karen and her family from her daughter’s wedding in South America showed great joy to the very end. Such a loss. – Kris Anderson Moore
I knew Karen well for years and then as we do, lost contact with her. Darling, wonderful Judy Benson reconnected us and we had a great, short time together when and while she was sick. She was a true lady and had a wonderful disposition and a fantastic support system with her husband and children. I am truly blessed to have known her in her last years and especially her last few months.
Sandy and I met the first day of kindergarten at Robert Fulton Elementary School, and our friendship lasted 60 years. All through grade school, every day in the summer I would get up and ride my bike to Sandy’s where we would play all day. She had a playhouse in her yard and toys and a piano in her basement and a great imagination and an open heart. I don’t remember ever being bored. Time went by, and we were less close in high school, but we stayed friends. She was on a faster track than I was, getting married and having children and facing challenges left and right. It’s hard to understand the role of luck in life; but Sandy got some tough breaks. But we would talk on the phone regularly. I think that she had a similar relationship with Karen Sjoquist Jenkins and Karen Sholl – open, warm, undiminished by the decades that had passed. Sandy finally met the love of her life and they married, but he suffered a terrible stroke and they couldn’t enjoy their time together. In our last visit together, in Florida, Sandy taught me to play “Kings in the Corner” , which I now play regularly and think of how wonderful it was to connect with her just weeks before what turned out to be her death. The notion of playing the hand you are dealt seems to apply. Sandy was brave and I loved her. -- Kris Anderson Moore
Sandy was one of my first real friends at SW Jr High. When I moved into the neighborhood, I was so lucky to have her friendship. She shared her life, her home, her interests, and her friends. I was so lucky to have known her warmth and good humour, back then, and in recent years too. Sandy came through illness and painful losses with her strong spirit and generousity unchanged. She was a gift to my life, and to everyone else who knew and loved her. Karen Sholl