This is the dedication speech
made at the college today as one of my paintings was hung in the lounge.
We braved 24 degree weather to enjoy the most wonderful banquets of food
imaginable. The president, vice presidents and facultiy were present and
these are the ones who have devoted so much of their time and intellect to
youth of our communities and was why I donated the painting in my friend's
A small plaque telling about
Rhonda Nesselrode was placed under the painting.
Tonkawa at the College
Dr. Kinzer, Doris and Robert Nesselrode, faculty, friends, what an honor it
is for you to have accepted my art work to be displayed here. I am so
pleased to have this piece hang in a place where it will have the
opportunity to encourage.
The title of this work
"Tracks," refers to the trek our Ponca people made so long ago from Nebraska
when one of three died on their own “trail of tears.”
Today ----a different trek
presents itself to each and every one of us. You who have worked so hard for
your own education are aware of what I speak, as YOU continue to give back
to such a great number of students.
Over a period of time from
1956 when I was in college a mental vignette comes to my mind.
I remember a physics
instructor who was 90 years old. She was a tiny little woman who walked with
short measured steps.
During an ice store everyone
was spinning their wheels trying to get out of the parking lot.
This instructor had an
audience as we watched her open the car door, deposit her books onto the
seat, and take a car key to open the trunk.
She pulled out a small brown
paper sack. From that, this fragile little woman poured a layer of sand in
front of her tires. You can imagine ----- the look of surprise on all the
engineering students faces as she got in her car and pulled away from the
curb as easily as if it had been a sunny day?
I’ve often thought of that
little woman as I’ve had to go through the rough times just as Doris and
Robert have. No one can explain the heartache of seeing their own child
suffer through a disability. Doris’s Rhonda, like my Rhonda, was a gentle
person. If she hurt no one knew it. Her spirit was as strong and beautiful
as a Gaurdian Angel who walks with good people. But with the same
determination the physics teacher had, Doris and Robert did the most and the
best they could for their child, Rhonda. No expense was spared for her
therapy and care. They gave her the best in a time when these children were
just stepping out of the closets of institutions and no one really knew, for
sure, what could be done. We just reacted to their special needs. Yes,
Doris, you and Robert are pioneers.
Rhonda Nesselrode had
siblings and this is a whole new field of study. The way a mother and father
are able to guide these siblings through the sorrow of living with the loss
of their sister and then on to the loss through death is a most difficult
and heavy responsibility. Rhonda’s personality made it easier for her whole
family to conquer the trials surrounding them. The example she set is the
reason I wanted to donate something in her honor to this school so that the
spirit of her life and living----- never be forgotten.
Robert and Doris shouldered
the responsibility and so, their other children are outstanding in their
contributions to society. Rhonda was a good and respectful person even
though she had a disability. She contributed to her family in many ways and
as a result her example will not be lost. The glow of her dedication to
those she loved was apparent to anyone who wished to take notice.
Like that physics instructor
who was well equipped and would not be defeated by an ice storm or anything
else; let this piece of art work in its symbolism hang where it will remind
those, who pass by, to know they too, like Rhonda are warriors each in their
own world. There may not be the glory of victory in all cases but the WILL
to fight the fine fight with great odds against you shall be seen by higher
powers who look on, and, indeed, YOU will encourage Them to do their work.
You, are the sand, under the wheels of progress, even though, people might
not ever know the end results of your work.
If in the end your students
are helped, by education, to suffer through their own ice storms, then these
are the things of value. I commend you so that you can hold to these values
in any precarious times ahead.
The little pebbles of sand
were once big boulders and as the Native Americans teach, every element,
stone, tree, or person hold the touch of the Great Spirit’s work. ALL are