Gordon P. Liddle
Published 9:30 am Thursday, December 27, 2018
On December 23, 2018 my beloved husband Gordon P. Liddle, PhD. Peacefully left this planet. He will be missed by his loving wife, family members, and friends. He was loved and respected by those who had met him. I want to share with you his last Christmas letter he wrote in October 2018.
I have been writing Christmas letters since my first wife and I married in 1948, started growing a family, camping thru the West, and becoming involved professionally and personally trying to improve our world. Unlike many I was given the tools, the advantages: I was born a white American and with good denes. My parents valued education and thru their efforts and those of their parents had enough resources to assist their children to understand and appreciate the world around them. I was surrounded by a loving, supportive environment which encouraged and achievement. I have worked moderately hard, but in general have had an easy rewarding life. I expected friends be loyal, family be supportive, bosses to be fair, work loads to be reasonable, etc. and generally my expectations were realized. My supportive environment furthered a sense of community and safety.
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My father worked more hours than I would have liked but I admired his dedication to the young people he was trying to help. Occupationally he was a YMCA secretary usually, but he took leave to head the federal emergency relief agency for Maryland during the early Roosevelt administration and later during WWII the USO for Maryland, both as second jobs without pay. At work and in his Sunday School class he tried to help youth achieve their job and marriage goals. The depression frequently required night school and took longer.
As a boy dad often let me follow him around so I learned that young peoples’ lives were often made difficult by the economics of a world they felt powerless to change. At 19 I got a Navy commission. My dark skinned companions couldn’t become radiomen, gunners, etc. They could only make my bed and serve my meals. How unfair, and also wasteful. The great depression and WWII were central to my learning and provided openings for my skills, modest as they were and are.
When I left the Navy for graduate school, the very first black faculty members were being employed by the colleges I chose, Oberlin and the U. of Chicago. Dark skinned students and Jews began to be valued colleagues and friends. One of them who couldn’t get a job as a school principal in our town later became Chicago’s superintendent. I began to have black colleagues and doctoral students. Still they couldn’t swim at the Y, eat at the Lincoln Douglas Hotel or be sure of a job when integration arrived, so I turned to helping the Civil Rights movement along as a local leader but not as one whose life or career was on the line. Our family members treated everyone with caring and respect and did what we could to become world citizens. Others did much more but we have made a difference in moves toward world citizenship. All of our grandchildren are fluent in another language and many have worked internationally and they think and care worldwide.
As a former professor of Life Span Human Development I can see major changes within myself which indicate for the first time that this may be my last Christmas letter. If so I’ve had a long pleasant stay in a supportive community that shares my thinking and understanding and a commitment to change when needed. From my family, and particularly from my wife, who reminds me that there is still much that I can do, this is not the end, but I can see signs of disability and withdrawal. Even with closed captions on TV, people talk faster and I loose some of the meaning. Dialogues and movie plots become too difficult to follow; after 31 years I gave up being on the Clark County water board; even with new hearing aides I miss much in meetings at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), support group for adults struggling with their mental illness. On my best days I can partially participate in aerobics but generally my stroke last year severely cut what I can do physically.
Jutta and I continue our normal activities. She is very involved with the Mental Health court and other activities with mentally ill adults and continues her private practice part time but I take more of her time. This year I have had three heart surgeries with little pain or suffering and the best of care, but I’m now an old man, and if my abilities decline further, I’m ready to leave. I’ve had a good ride with the kind of people I respect and enjoy. At present life is still worth living and Compassionate Choices and others are giving us choices for a good death. I talked with my bother twice the day before he died. We knew the end was at hand but we were still two friends communicating what to us was important. Share your thoughts, time, and money, live fully. I just have found that giving money to people I know and being in need it is generally more satisfying than other giving.
In general my vision is affected moderately but more importantly my breathing problem has sharply increased and so even dressing seems like a day’s work. The process of aging makes me appreciate more my parents, present family members, and special friends. My principal regret is that I did not spent more time with those close to me.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.