Community reflected in funeral business


I know the world doesn’t revolve around me, but I was a bit saddened to think that my mortuary of choice is being merged with another in Klamath Falls.

Ward’s was a place where I learned important lessons, in addition to trusting the owners for my mother’s final arrangements. I had imagined that Jason would take care of my final arrangements, too.

The merger with O’Hair’s brings two very reputable establishments together under one roof, but I am forever indebted to Jim and Jason Ward for their professionalism and dedication to the community.

Before Jason became my brother in Kiwanis service, his father modeled a sense of community I would hold ideal. During my stint a the Herald and News, a Native American toddler died from a rare pulmonary condition. Understanding the pain and suffering the family had already endured, Jim Ward would not charge them for his services. He saw no reason to profit from a family’s tragedy. Their ethnicity only matters, because they found some racism in dealing with other professionals. It was not a matter of consequence to Mr. Ward.

I was still reflecting on that lesson when Jason opened the family’s chapel for a service honoring a fellow Kiwanian. He thought it was wrong for the widow to be gouged for the use of a gathering room, and allowed the standing-room only crowd space to grieve and remember.

A few years later, I would visit the office and try to purchase a memorial book for Martha Anne Dow’s public service. Jim Ward refused payment and said for all Martha Anne had done for the community the least he could do would be provide a memorial book for her family.

Finally, in 2012, Jason helped me with my mother’s arrangements. Some in my extended family prefer another mortuary, but I knew the Wards and wanted the best for my mom. Jason walked me through the process, told me what needed to be done and was kind beyond words.

My spiritual belief is that death is not an ending, but a new beginning. I hope the merger is a new beginning for Jason and his family after four generations of professionalism and committed service to the community.

Klamath Kinetic Challenge results in glory for everyone


Peter Wagner moves his German wheel, The Flight of Sisyphus, across the sand obstacle of the 2016 Klamath Kinetic Challenge.

The core of the local kinetic experience is the spirit of collaboration and friendly competition.

This year Peter Wagner, pilot of The Flight of Sisyphus, was honored for his contributions to the Klamath Kinetic Challenge with the Spirit Award.

Wagner and his wife Jeri are familiar faces at the challenge, and he is known for his amazing vehicles and willingness to help other pilots. He is also a spectator favorite who takes time to entertain and educate those on the sidelines.

This year, he traveled five miles on a flat tire to reach base camp at KOA, but stopped tending his punctured inner tube to check on another team having mechanical troubles. He scouted the mud pit to ensure safe passage of all, and provided crew support to Jeri in several instances.

A special award was presented by Queen Bubblicious (Rikki Beford) to James Brown, who in addition to being crowned Tule Kween Jamie, also does the fundraising and trophy building for the Challenge. In the past two years, he has also built a sculpture for Nicole Young to pilot.

Results from the Challenge include:

Pel Awards for completing the course, following all of the rules: Banana Flambe (Tom Bedford and Dave Neiman), The Flight of Sisyphus (Peter Wagner), Seas the Day (Jeri Wagner), and Sweet Toot (Tony Bunyard).

Pelican Brief Award for shortest time in contest before a breakdown: The Red Barons (Nicole Young and Katie Bozgoz). Sponsored by Hanson Tire.

Road Runner Award for completing the Challenge in the shortest time: Banana Flambe. Sponsored by Linkville Coin & Antiques.

Dancing Grebe Award for largest splash on water entry: Seas the Day. Sponsored by KOA.

Stuck Duck Award for finishing in the middle of the pack: The Flight of Sisyphus. Sponsored by Mia and Pia’s Pizzeria and Brewhouse.

Owl Award for best local entry: Sweet Toot. Sponsored by Ace Towing.

Dead Last but Finished Award: The Red Barons. Sponsored by Ed Tuhy, doctor of optometry.

Gizmomania Award for engineering excellence: Banana Flambe. Sponsored by Rick’s Towing.

Van Go Go Award for artistic excellence: Sweet Toot. Sponsored by Holliday Jewelry.

Spirit Award: The Flight of Sisyphus. Sponsored by Klamath Basin Brewing.

Eagle Award for all-around excellence: Banana Flambe. Sponsored by Sanford and Son Secondhand.

On cultural humility

My professional work is facilitating health equity of late. It’s been interesting to learn about some of the barriers individuals experience in receiving equity.

An area of discussion is cultural competency, but I’m of the opinion that competency is an arrival at a specified place. Being culturally humble is more in keeping with the theme of working well together. My personal definition is that I cannot walk around assuming my experience, or culture, is superior to that of others, nor can I assume that everyone has had the same opportunities.

Monday I attended a training sponsored by The (Oregon Health & Science) University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Carol French of Figure 8 Consulting facilitated the training, and it was very well done.

One of the first points Carol made is that we all have bias. The first piece of information our brain tells us about others is ethnicity. Second is gender, with age being third. We must acknowledge that our brains function in this manner and work to filter our reactions and judgments in a positive manner.

She provided a diagram to understand the numerous filters we use:

cultural selfie

These filters play an important role in the assumptions we make about life in general. Please note that M.S.U. means we Make Stuff Up.


Depending upon how stressed we are and other factors, we are quite capable of making  bad decisions which we will later regret.

Carol showed us a film Jon Chu created as a student at USC’s film school, Silent Beats. With no narration, the movie had the audience appreciating the complexity of the internal mechanisms involved with cultural humility.

It would be easy to beat up ourselves over our bad assumptions and response behaviors, but empathy goes a long way toward making the world a better place. We must be empathetic toward others, but also practice empathy toward ourselves.

Brene Brown has a powerful animated video on the difference between empathy and sympathy.

In the end, perhaps the greatest lesson is we are all human. The world would be a better place if we acknowledged our own humanity and that of others.

Blessed are those who mourn: they will be comforted


None of us gets out of this mortal life alive. This weekend two of my inner circle are dealing with different stages of grief.

Shari Goercke Jones’ sister Niffer died unexpectedly last week. The Goercke clan is together in Olympia making plans on how to move forward. I’ve heard it said that a parent surviving a child is an unimaginable grief, as it upends the natural order of things. Shari’s parents have weathered numerous storms in life, but this is a moment they never could have anticipated facing.

While the Goerckes come to terms with fresh grief, Mike Angeli will attend the California Peace Officers Memorial. His partner at the Riverside Sheriff’s Office Eric Thach died on duty in 1999. Mike wears a bracelet in memory of Thach, and the engraving there is not as deep as that upon his heart.

Last October, Mike wrote this on Thach’s memorial page:

16 years ago, my daughter was born into this world. 16 years ago, you were taken from this world, Eric Thach. Some would say it is how the world is balanced. I would say that we lose those that make this world great too easily and that we are very imbalanced.

We bring things back to center by working harder and trying to live up to the standards you have given us. We honor you by this and carry on your memory and story.

16 years is long. Eternity, may it be guided by your example.

We speak of death as a loss, but for those of us with an eternal, spiritual perspective no one is lost. We know where they are and that we will join them one day.

Both of my friends and their families have helped me through times of grief and helped me learn and grow in other areas of my life. I am blessed with my little circle, and I aspire to be of help and comfort to my people.

We are here for a mere instant in comparison to eternity. Perhaps today we can tread more lightly with others, because we don’t fully know the burden they carry.

Social exclusion simulation brings new perspective


The Cloud Gate in Chicago offers a different view of the city. The Social Exclusion Simulation will likewise offer a new perspective on health equity and our Tribal people.

March 29 two members of Klamath County Public Health and two members of Klamath Tribal Health & Family services experienced a social exclusion simulation at Adler University in Chicago.

There were about 25 of us total given variations of four character profiles of women who were on parole. We were given specific tasks to accomplish, such as, for my character, getting an asthma inhaler first thing during the first 12-minute week, checking in with the parole officer, getting food, getting a job, going to 12-step programs, getting clothing, and getting housing.

I felt like I rocked the first week and all I did was get the inhaler and visit the parole officer. However, I did not obtain food, shelter or clothing. The second and third weeks, represented with 12-minute intervals, I didn’t accomplish anything. I was supposed to go to the clinic for panic attacks, and I couldn’t see anyone for four weeks.

I couldn’t get food before attending 12-step, but I was arrested at the program because the monitor allegedly saw me make a drug buy outside. I spent most of those two weeks in the representative jail, as I lost interest in trying to accomplish my tasks and tried to protect some of the others from injustices that I saw. It was very eye-opening.

We debriefed afterward and it is easy to see how demoralizing life can be when you are a member of a marginalized population and don’t know how to navigate specific systems or have an advocate.

Participants experienced bias:

  • In trying to attend a 12-step meeting and being accused of immediate drug use.
  • Without going to the meeting, food would not be given at a pantry.
  • Without obtaining food and and attending a meeting, the parole officer wouldn’t acknowledge forward progress on parole
  • Job applications need a housing address, but housing is only possible in working well with the parole officer.
  • Lack of health care providers leads to long waits to be seen for urgent needs, such as panic attacks.
  • None of the simulation participants felt the systems were inclusive.

A woman who had been incarcerated, Queen Brown, spoke to us about her experience being on parole and getting clean. Given the backgrounds of the composite characters, and Queen’s personal testimony, I wonder how many incarcerated women suffered some sort of abuse in childhood, which led to lifelong issues and some poor choices.

Then we met with Adler staff about researching our local simulation using the Klamath Tribal population.

Adler personnel will be in Klamath May 4-7 to collect more information.

It’s about relationship, not religion


Doug Lane, Jr., center left, as Caiaphas in the Faith Tabernacle production of Messiah in 2016.

God created mankind to have communion with him. He visited Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, and Jewish wisdom indicates that He still walks the earth at 3 a.m. We are told that when two or three gather in His name, He is there, too.

Religion spends a great deal of time tearing people apart because of differences. My God loves all of his creation, which is not to say that He is always pleased with everyone. We all fall short, which is why a sacrifice was necessary to reinstate us to a perfect relationship with God.

Twice before Easter, I watched the Messiah production at Faith Tabernacle. The delivery of Jesus’s ministry, sacrifice and resurrection made a new impact on my thoughts. My brother portrayed Caiaphas, and it was difficult to see him be harsh with our Savior.

Doug’s portrayal of Caiaphas was also tied to mourning a friend who had recently died. In previous productions, Ernie Meyers was Caiaphas — the high priest who condemned Jesus to death. Doug took on the role, as no one else was prepared, and I know he met it with respect and love for Ernie and an appreciation for what Caiaphas meant to our future at Christians.

In youth, it was hard for me to understand how the Truth could be standing among the the holy and learned without being recognized. What I know today is that Caiaphas, among others, had his heart hardened and his eyes shielded so that redemption could extend beyond the Jews.

Had all of the Jews of his time embraced Jesus as Messiah, there would have been no need to open the gates of heaven to others. This is where God’s love is so amazing; He created an opening for all of us to live in harmony with Him, to know His love and His best desire for all of His creation.

In watching the familiar story unfold, I was struck at how painful it must have been for the Disciples to see the Priesthood reject Jesus. The Priests were divinely appointed by birthright to provide intercession between God and mankind. Here fishermen were able to see God’s plan better than those in anointed authority over them.

Peter’s anguish at having denied Jesus must have been even more heart-wrenching because God’s men didn’t realize what they were doing either. The Priests could not identify God in the flesh, and Peter could not remain loyal overnight. We have all had failures, but there is redemption awaiting us all, if we only ask and believe.

We are all God’s children and He is no respecter of persons. His ideal is to carry us close to Him, holding our right hands and holding us in His right hand.

(Isaiah 41) 9I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

10So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Religion has its place, but its place is always behind direct relationship with our Creator and Messiah.

People of faith, join me in praying for Klamath’s children

right wrong

Jesus loves the little children. These words from Colton Burpo’s book Heaven is for Real have been ringing in my head for more than a day.

Many children in the Klamath Basin are born in to circumstances that will impede their success – economic, social and spiritual paucity. Those of us with a belief in Jesus Christ have an obligation to pray for these little ones and remember that we are instructed to come to Him as little children.

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

6“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

10“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

I had a meeting yesterday with some local professionals to talk about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, which in a nutshell states that the more negative influences in a child’s life they more highly likely they will suffer from lifelong chronic diseases.

Child abuse is a huge ACE, but an abuse intervention will not guarantee a future healthy outcome. You see, it will take a coordinated effort.

The meeting showed a great concern for local children, but there is currently no capacity in the represented institutions to take immediate action. That wears on me.

However, Jesus loves the little children. God knew each of these little ones as they were being knit together in the womb. So, let’s pray for these children, because He knows the answer and the perfect solution.

Father God, we humbly come to You, holding up Your children. Many of them are in daily contact with influences that are not worthy of their attention or healthy for their progress. You hold them by their right hand, and hold them in Your right hand. Help their brains and bodies to grow strong and healthy; help their minds and souls flourish to the potential you have planned for them. Send Your people of Klamath the Holy Spirit to guide our work in the best interest of Your children. You have a solution that is not apparent to everyone at this point, but we believe you will reveal a plan as we prepare to serve our children. Father, we praise you for this beautiful community, and all of our wonderful blessings. Help us bless Your children. We pray this is Jesus’ Holy name.

This is not a one-time prayer. I will endeavor to keep this on my lips, in my mind and on my heart going forward. Please join me. Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there also. Isn’t it time we start acting like He is resident in Klamath?