Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday Soapbox: Pete Glade

Pete and Marilynn dancing in our kitchen, Christmas Day, 1994

I thought I’d begin my Sunday Soapbox series with this tribute to my father-in-law, Pete Glade. If he were with us today, Pete would be celebrating his 90th birthday. I miss him.

I learned a lot from Pete. Here I want to share two values he taught through his example: tolerance and neighborliness.

When I met him in 1970, Pete was an active, enthusisastic Reagan Republican. Reagan was governor of California then. Me? My hair was long; my beard was scraggly; my shoes were scuffed veterans of many an anti-war march.

One thing I learned from Pete is tolerance for opposing viewpoints.

Pete used to say that every business ought to have a Democrat and a Republican at the top. I think he believed Democrats should talk to Republicans because his dad was a Democrat, a very active one, too — the former Mayor of Salt Lake City.

Pete welcomed me into his family even though I was a ragged and bedraggled version of me.

I had to learn tolerance for opposing views from my wife’s family. My family preferred the company of fellow travelers on the left wing. We all packed into the yellow Travelall and drove to be-ins and protests. My family found it difficult to navigate discussions with Republicans.

Another thing I learned from Pete was neighborliness.

You don’t have to be smart, a good conversationalist, good looking, athletic, rich, famous, or anything else, to be a lovable and worthy human being. You just have to be a good neighbor.

Although Pete had a very distinguished career in the law (he was educated at Harvard and Stanford) he was the most down-to-earth person I ever met. When a stroke took his speech and along with it his livelihood, he somehow managed to learn to smile, wave, and say, “Hi, How are you?” so he could greet everyone he encountered. That was about as far as his conversation could go, but everyone loved Pete.

He smiled, he cared, and without words he let you know his heart was full of love.

I hope that Pete’s spirit of tolerance and neighborliness prevails here as I explore off-topic territory in the weeks ahead.

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