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Friday, August 13, 2021

 Mrs. Stoppelkamp called me the other day.

There was a time, when working on a column, I would ask myself, "What would Mrs. Stoppelkamp think?" Then I would buff the rougher edges of my comment so as not to upset her.

When I worked at the Burlington Times-News, Mrs. Stoppelkamp would call to tell me what she thought of my columns. She was forever kind, funny and utterly Christian in her reaction, even in disagreement.

One day, she came in to work to give me a birthday hug.

She always found a way to make my day.

Well she did she called.

"Sawyer County Record, this is Rich," I answered.

"Rich Jackson?"


"This is Nancy Stoppelkamp," she said.

Now this was on production day where we're putting out the newspaper. It's the day where all my elderly colleagues and I sit at our desks and sweat. One minute out of my time is one minute too long.

But for Mrs. Stoppelkamp, the day stopped. I would talk to her as long as she wanted.

We caught up on health, news about our kids and life in general. As always, we laugh much.

Mrs. Stoppelkamp read one of her most recent religious poems and it was quite beautiful.

I don't know how long we talked because people are more important than anything else and I reserve time for all in front of me.

Before hanging up, we promised each other to stay in touch because we hadn't talked in two or three years.

What a remarkable life I've been given to have made so many dear friends, here, near and away.

Peace and friendship unto all of you my brothers and sisters.


  1. I'm not sure how to comment here without "over doing" it and sounding sickingly maudlin... but that one [the above post] kinda got me "right there" Even in your casual 'seemingly simplistic' tone ...there is so much beauty and heart in your delivery Rich. I hope you don't misinterpret 'simplistic' as being in any way disparaging...the word carries so MUCH more than I can fully articulate at three in the morning. I'm fairly confident this post rates in at least my top five faves or higher... just can't for the life of me figure out just why. I'm toddling off to bed now with a smiling heart...with gratitude always Rich.

  2. ...and I'm fairly certain, I haven't missed a single one...

  3. "’E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
    Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,
    An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din! ...

    You are a better man than I am, Gunga Din."