In Memory

Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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11/29/11 09:06 PM #1    

Mary-Claire VanderWal (Barton)

I cannot remember a time when I did not know Alan.  Our parents were good friends and part of quite a rowdy bunch that partied and traveled together in the winter and brought us back little wiggley turtles with Jamaica burned onto their living shells  or straw dolls as consolation for their absences.  When Alan lived on Giddings Street, my mother made me be nice to him.

But then we moved, and Alan and I went to Oakdale together and then to Christian High, and we became very close friends.  Our fathers had offices next to each other in the old Michigan National Bank Building, and one summer in Junior High, we each worked for our Dads.  Micki De Young Hage just gave me a bunch of letters I wrote her from circa '56--'66.  One of them was about that summer.  "I don't care how much I have to see Alan this summer," I wrote Mick..."if he does NOT apologize to me, I will NEVER (underlined 3 times) speak to him again!"

Apparently Alan came through with the Big Apology, because when both of us did not have a date for the few Events at GRCHS which required one, we would go together...not sadly or in defeat, but full of fun and wry observations. Once when our house was under police surveillance because of a case my father was trying, a policeman appeared at the door with Alan in tow, announcing that he had been apprehended while looking in our windows.  You must know how much I wanted to say: I have never seen this boy in my life!  Off with his head!.....but who could deny knowing matter how delicious that would have been!

Our parents had arranged our marriage practically from birth.  Alan graduated from law school; joined my father's law firm (and advised me, pro bono, for years thereafter); and then presented the lovely and beguiling Jeannie as his wife. I approved!  Bill and I went out to Lake Michigan on the Saturday of the 50th reunion to see Alan and Jeannie at their cottage.  Alan was very ill...but he was still the witty, funny, understated and wry friend I have loved all these years......  What should I tell anyone who wants to know how you are?  I asked him....  Tell them I am improving, he said. much I wanted to believe that! On Monday, my sister Kathy and I went to Thornhills to see Alan's mother, Mrs. Smith...(who could call her Martha?) and she regaled us with stories about my parents and adventures they had all had.  Her mind was as clear as a bell at 102...much better than either of ours. I can only imagine how much she misses her only child...Life does seem to offer such blessings but such pain.  

So Alan,my old friend....who always called me Mares, I cannot say good-bye to you. You are such a part of me and of my past.  I only wish everyone could know The Kid (as you called yourself!) as I did.  I love you, Alan, and always will.   Mares.  

12/03/11 09:49 AM #2    

Ron Calsbeek

Alan, a sweet guy, a caring friend who practiced "active listening" before the term was invented. The strong image in my memory is of Alan's gentle, joyful demeanor. The class of 61 has lost another star.

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