I arrived at Purdue to start work in 1972. I was not in farm management, but the notion of owning some farmland was really attractive as I had spent summers at my grandfather’s in northern Wisconsin where we had a self sufficient small operation for our own needs. Bob Jones, Jake Atkinson and others on the faculty had farmland and Howard and I decided we would try to buy some farmland together. Howard was sure we could make this work and was almost buying used equipment before we found any land. A piece of land came up for sale in the mid-1970s up Morehouse Road north of Howard’s house. To say it was rough would be an understatement – little drainage, rolling land, and a certain amount of gullying. We set a limit on what we would bid and the land sold above that limit. Initially we were really disappointed. But the fall of what would have been our first year was one of the wettest ever. Combines were stuck in fields – one even had its axle pulled off when being pulled out by a Cat. I silently thanked God that Howard and I had not bought that piece of farmland together! It would have been a disaster. It might have ruined our friendship. Had we bought the land and suffered disaster our first year I am sure Howard would be telling the story and laughing about it today. Howard could bounce back from things with humor the way I couldn’t. That was one reason it was fun to be with Howard.

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  1. You’re absolutely right about my Dad’s ability to bounce back and to genuinely be resilient, oftentimes with humor, and usually with a story to tell. He modeled this for his kids countless times, no matter whether we felt ready to bounce back with him yet or not quite!

    Even 4 days before his death, he modeled his resilience response yet one more time for me. On that day, I was disappointed to learn the results of an important International art competition had not landed my painting submission in a group of the top 45 portraits. Having pinned great hopes to acceptance in the competition, having spent a great deal of money for shipping my entry to the UK for finals judging, and in combination with the impending death we all knew was fast approaching for my dad, it seems a natural response for me to have felt a particularly deep level of sorrow over not being accepted as a finalist.
    I shared the news with my dad that day and his immediate response was, “Look, now you know what work was successful, so you can repeat it for next year’s competition!”

    And as my disappointment lingered, his response was commensurate with personal experience, “It’s okay. I didn’t get accepted into the All Stars.”
    I had to laugh.


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