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August 2019 – A Month of Personal Sadness and It’s Not Over Yet

August 20, 2019

Jorma and Madeline Pesonen – on a ferry to Tallinn, Estonia from Helsinki, Finland. July, 2011

There are the families one is born into…and the one a person makes along the way.


Already four family friends (so far) have died in this month of August, 2019, all from cancer. They made substantial contributions to the common good, to the fate of the earth in their ways, – they did what they could – …and were our friends. Nancy and I miss them all. They are all a part of the fabric of our lives. The fact that they have died won’t change that.

We were in touch with all of them at the end of their life’s journey, doing what we could to “sing their spirits home” – both mourning their loss and celebrating each of their unique lives. And so I recognize them here.
They are:
Harry Patton, our life-long dear friend, Jo Ellen Patton’s brother – Kansas born and bred. Cities – Denver in particular – were too much for Harry and sometime ago, perhaps 25 years he moved to the mountains where he lived in a trailer enjoying the wonders of this state’s breath-taking nature. Harry was very skilled handyman/maintenance man, a careful, talented craftsman. Worked on ranches all over South Park (east of Fairplay) and south of Salida. A gentle soul, very decent and competent. I don’t have a photo of Harry, but I hope to get one and post it.
Jorma Pesonen – In the years we lived in Finland Jorma headed up the Finnish chapter of Amnesty International. Nancy and Jorma’s wife, Madeline, who met in the Helsinki suburb of Kaivoksela where both families lived,  became life-long friends. When we returned to Finland for a month in 2011, we stayed at their apartment and the four of us, Jorma, Madeline, Nancy and I took a memorable 3-4 day trip to Tallinn, Estonia. Nancy and Madeline have stayed in touch by letters, email for the now near thirty years since we left Finland.

Daniel Lowenstein’s work, displayed recently at Westside Books.

Daniel Lowenstein – not just a Facebook but a real life friend and neighbor. Daniel was an outstanding life-long artist from a highly cultured Denver family. One of the sons of Henry Lowenstein – a Colorado theater icon – Daniel and wife Cathy were a wonderful team, concerned about pretty much all the world’s ills but with great attention to the biggest of them all – climate change. His paintings hung for several weeks at Westside Books. He was also a sculptor and designed theater sets.

Ellen Slatkin – My memory of meeting Ellen and her close friend Barbara Puls is decidely distinct although some 38 years ago.  It was in the summer of 1981. I had just returned from what had been a rough, gut-wrenching trip to Lebanon and Syria the year prior to the 1982 Israeli invasion. Ellen and Barbara – then young college graduates from Simmons College in Boston – came down the aisle in the auditorium on the Auraria Campus where I was giving a slide presentation to say hello, the beginning of deep friendships among the two of them, Nancy and me.
Along with Nancy, Cathy S., David N., Paul K, Dick A, William W. and a few others, for the decade of the 1980s we were the Colorado Chapter of the U.S. Peace Council, a group of people that is still largely in touch with each other as friends. Ellen was a history prof (like myself “a lecturer”) at Metro State University and spearheaded that facility’s chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. She hails from a Jewish family with deep roots in Denver’s vibrant Jewish Community. She was fiercely loyal and dedicated to her family and to anything and all things humane and progressive.
Her funeral, at the BMH Synagogue, is today (August 20, 2019)

Ellen Slatkin (second from the right) with William Watts, Barbara Puls, and David Nefzger at our booth at the People’s Fair, May 1982.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. William watts permalink
    August 20, 2019 7:28 am

    Very sorry for your losses. There are way to many as we get older.

  2. mikewilzoch permalink
    August 20, 2019 5:33 pm

    They sound like great people. Not enough of them around, so when they depart the field, it hurts all the more. La Chaim

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