Archive for Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Shouts and Murmurs: Good news sent from the front

April 30, 2003

Tonganoxie first-graders had no way of knowing their six care packages would reach U.S. service men and women so quickly. The students collected miscellaneous items, and wrote letters to those who are serving in the Middle East. They mailed the boxes earlier this month.

Tanna Innis, whose son, Thomas Innis, has been serving in Iraq, on Monday brought a photo that shows Thomas and his crew members posing outside a tent. At the bottom of the photo, are scrawled the words: "Thank you Tonganoxie."

"He got the boxes on Saturday," Innis said.

Earlier, she had sent him a package which took a month to get to Thomas. But this one took about a week and a half. He shared the items with his crewmates.

"All the guys thought that was so neat," Innis said. "They were all reading the letters."

The photo from Thomas had arrived via the Internet, she said.

To top off the good news, Innis said, her son, who is an F-16 crew chief for the Air Force, is leaving the Middle East. This week he will arrive in Germany where his wife, Amy, lives.

There's more good news. On Saturday, Thomas called home. He talked to his brother, Mike, and his father, Tim, and to Tanna.

Thomas, who turned 20 on March 5, signed up for the Air Force when he was a junior at Tonganoxie High School. He started boot camp two weeks after high school graduation.

"That was always his dream -- to be with planes," Tanna said.

Thomas's grandfather retired from the Navy. And his father served four years in the Army.

"Thomas used to wear his Army uniform when he was little," Tanna said.

Thomas's cousin, Brian Monroe, who is from Louisville, Ky., served in the Middle East during the same time that Thomas was there. Monroe, who is 24, was with the Marines when troops first entered Bahgdad and Tikrit. He is now back in the United States.

Finally, knowing her boys are safe, Innis said she feels like she can relax again. For months she hasn't slept and she hasn't had much of an appetite. But there's been a positive note to that, Innis said, smiling: "It's a good way to lose weight. I've lost over 10 pounds."

VVV

For as long as I can remember, our office manager, Terylan (Skaggs) Walker has been my friend. This arrangement began in the fall of 1958 when we started kindergarten together, attending the afternoon classes in the basement of the Masonic Lodge with Grace Wilson as our teacher.

As children, we spent many days and nights at each other's houses. In high school we marched in school parades together, twirling our batons more or less in unison with the other girls. From high school graduation until I moved back to town in 1997, Terylan was the only old friend who consistently kept up our correspondence. That is to her credit, for she is much better at letter writing than I have ever been.

When The World Company purchased The Tonganoxie Mirror in 1999 and began hiring staff for The Mirror, it only made sense to ask Terylan to join us.

She did, and it's been a delightful three years and eight months with her on board.

Terylan is leaving us now. Her last day of work is today. She has accepted a position with a Bonner Springs firm.

We will miss her smile, her laughter and our togetherness. In the past week, we've held a veritable "Terylan-fest," as Paula Gish's husband, Steve, called it.

We've had a going-away dinner in Lawrence, an office luncheon at my house and, of course, her leaving wouldn't be complete without a souvenir front-page edition of The Mirror in her honor.

We're not the only ones who will miss her. There's her adopted father of sorts, Ted Duncanson, who pokes his head in the office door nearly every day to say hi to Terylan. There's her father-in-law, Norman Walker, who often stops in to greet Terylan at the end of his workday. And of course there's Terylan's grandkiddies, Kody and Kate, who have fast learned which is the candy drawer in Grammy's desk.

Terylan, thanks for sharing these years at The Mirror with us. Thanks for your hard work, your supreme organizational skills and thanks most of all for being a lifelong friend. You're the greatest -- as I'm sure the next group of people you'll work with will agree.

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