Note: I did not personally know Dr. Friedsam, but he and I share several things in common: We were both Marines, we both wear bolo ties, and we both grew up in Waco, TX. I republish this as a courtesy to those who knew and loved this man. This is a beautiful obituary. I can only hope that when my life story is read back, it will be this inspiring.
A memorial celebration of Dr. Friedsam's life will be held at the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1111 Cordell Street, Denton, Texas 76201 (940) 566-1286 beginning at 1:00 p.m. on April 14. 2007. Hiram preferred bolo ties to neck ties; feel free to wear a bolo tie in memory that day.
Dr. Hiram Johnson Friedsam, a resident of Denton, Texas, died from complications of pancreatic cancer in San Antonio, Texas in the early morning of March 24th with his family at his bedside. He was 87 years of age. Born March 14, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Friedsam grew up in Waco, Texas. He received his Bachelor's degree from Baylor University and Master's degree from the University of Texas prior to WWII. He served during WWII in the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific as a First Lieutenant, participating in the Battle of Solomon Islands and at Guadalcanal Island from 1942 to 1943. He remained in the Marine Corps Reserves, and retired from the Reserves as a Major in 1961.
Hiram met his wife, Reva, in New York City shortly after WWII. They married June 25, 1947, in Austin, Texas where he had returned to complete a doctorate at the University of Texas. He joined the faculty of North Texas State Teachers College (now the University of North Texas) in 1948 at the invitation of President A.J. McConnell as an assistant professor of economics. He later became the chairman of the sociology department. Dr. Friedsam was instrumental in establishing the Center for Studies in Aging at North Texas, the first gerontology program in Texas and one of the first in the nation. In 1973, after serving as director of the Center, Dr. Friedsam was appointed as the first Dean of the newly established School of Community Services (now the College of Public Affairs and Community Service), a position that he held until his retirement in 1983. Serving as Dean and Professor Emeritus, he maintained an office in the Department of Applied Gerontology (formerly the Center for Studies in Aging) where he continued to write and edit professional publications, serve on local and national advisory boards, and mentor students and faculty.
Dr. Friedsam was a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, of the Association for Gerontological Society of America and of the Association of Gerontology in Higher Education. At various times in his career he served as President of the Southwestern Sociological Society, the Southwestern Social Science Association, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, and the Texas Society on Aging. A delegate to the 1961, 1971, and 1981 White House Conference on Aging, he served as co-chair of the Training Section at the 1971 conference and as a consultant to the Technical Committee on Education for the 1981 conference. In 1968 he was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to serve on his Presidential Task Force on Older Americans. The author or co-author of more than fifty publications, he also served a term as Editor-in-Chief of The Gerontologist, a journal published by the Gerontological Society of America.
Dr. Friedsam's activities in the field of aging also included terms as chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council for the Texas Department on Aging and membership in the Advisory Council of the North Central Texas Council of Government's Area Agency on Aging. In the Denton area, he advised on the origins of several aging services programs including SPAN, The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Good Samaritan Village, and Fairhaven where he also served as a board member.
Hiram received the President's Award and Distinguished Teacher Award from the University of North Texas and was named as an Honorary Alumnus by the Alumni Association. His other awards included a President's Citation from the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the Trailblazer award from the Texas Joint Conference on Aging, and Distinguished Service Award from the Southwestern Social Science Association and from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. Dr. Friedsam also received the Clark Tibbitts Award for contributions to gerontology education for that organization.
Hiram is survived by his wife, Reva Sykes Friedsam, daughter and son-in-law Karen F. and Tom Duncan, son S. Carl Friedsam and his wife Charlene, and grandchildren Stephen and Elizabeth Friedsam, his niece, Georgia Hepler (Bert), and cousin Sandra Mittica.
Gifts in memory of Dr. Hiram J. Friedsam may be made to the following scholarship funds: Friedsam Graduate Student Fund – Gerontology or the Friedsam Graduate Scholarship – Sociology. Gifts can also be made to the Friends of UNT Libraries. Make checks payable to the UNT Foundation and mail to the University of North Texas, Division of Advancement, P.O. Box 311250, Denton, TX 76203; or on-line donations may be made at * https://development.unt.edu/givenow/givenow.php *. Hiram supported many other non–profit and service endeavors, so gifts to other charities would be equally appreciated.
The Lewisville Police Department is investigating human remains found at a park Sunday.
At 2:46 p.m., officers went to Central Park, 1899 S. Edmonds Lane, where they met with witnesses who directed them to a fetus in a wooded area.
The Tarrant County medical examiner's office is examining the fetus.
Anyone with information can call Officer Richard Douglass at 972-219-3615.
Folks, this is just tragic. One can only speculate as to the circumstances and state of mind of the mother. Perhaps a teenager with a coathanger abortion? A natural miscarriage with a mother who was on drugs, or didn't know what to do?
We must prevent this. We must ensure that our children receive relevant and useful information on contraceptives. We must ensure that pregnant women get the pre-natal medical care they need. Parents must ensure that their daughters do not fear revealing an unwanted pregnancy.
Teens: If you are pregnant, and in crisis, there are many people you can turn to. Jane's Due Process is one good resource. I would strongly urge that you confide in a family member, counselor, or adult friend that you can trust. Planned Parenthood is another good resource that can help you consider your options without pressuring you. If you have been raped or molested, you can seek confidential free counseling from organizations locally such as Denton County Friends of the Family
As I write, it's Saturday morning, a little after 1 AM. The coffee pot is on, and my "therapy session" begins. I have strong feelings and opinions. I have things to say. I feel a need to connect people. I know that WhosPlayin is considered a "liberal" or "progressive" blog. I know that most of the 200 or so visitors per day would probably label themselves as liberal or progressive.
Personally, I've never held much regard for labels, though I suppose they do serve a purpose. As a person who grew up being very concerned about social justice, but considering myself to be "conservative", I've never quite warmed to the label of "liberal". I'm willing to call myself "progressive", I suppose - but I think all three labels are misnomers.
What is "liberal" anyway? When I think of the word, it conjures up negative associations such as "excessive", "extravagant", or "careless". It's probably all those years of conservative influence living in the white-bread "suburbs" of Waco, TX. What the word really means is "generous", "broadminded", and "tolerant". I know that's what those who call themselves liberals would say. Yet I resist the label because I know the power behind it. I know there are others like me, but who have not yet had their eyes opened. I'm sure I've already lost many of those readers just by using that word. If you had caught me about 8 years ago, I might skip reading this too.
"Progressive," on the other hand, is a squishy kind of label that seems innocuous enough. It says "I believe we should make progress." The progress in question depends on who you ask. Like the word "liberal", it doesn't really convey anything concretely. Unlike the word "liberal", it doesn't polarize nearly as much.
"Conservative" on the other hand, inherently means some things that are not really endeared by those politicians that use the label. Conservation - of natural resources, money, the environment: nope. Fiscal Conservatism: Not even close. No, it seems that nowadays, conservatism means "preserving the status quo" and that "America is a Christian nation" and that government should enforce a specific romanticized view of morality stuck somewhere in the 1950s before the civil rights movement achieved its victories. Small government? Nope. Hasn't happened. Worthy goal, but hasn't happened. Conservatism should be the logical opposite of radicalism, but there are plenty of radical conservatives.
Where am I going with this? On to the next label, of course - the squishiest of all, yet the one that should have the most meaning: "Moderate". Moderation in all things, indeed. One ought to be able to say "I am a moderate", and not have to immediately follow that with a qualifying "Democrat" or "Republican". Over the years, especially the Bush years, America has become polarized to the point that everyone must be labeled in some way. The extremes have become the norm, and normalcy has left the building. Normalcy has gone home, and is sitting on the couch watching Grey's Anatomy or American Idol. Normalcy could give a shit whether Republicans and Democrats cancel each other out in some kind of matter / anti-matter collision.
I think it's all unfortunate that Americans have disengaged to the point that most of us don't even care to vote. And of those who do, very few really educate themselves on the candidates and issues. Nope - we're human. We seek out news and opinion that validates what we believe. Are you a conservative? I'll bet you watch Fox news, eh?
Seriously, this divide makes for good TV and radio. It's pretty one-sided these days, and the more outrageous, the better. So-called "conservative" Republicans put up a straw-man "liberal" Democrat, and they say the liberal is "pro-terrorist", "pro-abortion", "anti-American", athiest, and Socialist; whereas they and they alone support our troops, protect the unborn, support Christian family values and laissez-faire capitalism. It is black and white they say. You are either "with us, or you're against us."
A sane person with a bit of education, and the ability to use their God-given abilities of reason and logic says "Wait a minute!" It's not black and white. The answers to all of our societal problems are not a matter of dogma and sweeping generalizations.
I don't really want to get into the history of the Republican and Democratic parties, because really - that doesn't matter in the here-and-now where you and I live. What matters is that the parties, no matter how you may describe them as being opposites, are not. When we treat it that way, Normalcy tunes out. It's not really Red and Blue, nor Left or Right. These may be convenient classifications, but they really get people to thinking that we're opposites, when we are not. Please allow me to demonstrate in tabular form, with some generalization, but no straw men:
Theoretical Opposite of Republicans
Believe in a strong national defense. Stop terrorism by finding terrorists and killing them.
Pacifist appeasers. Stop terrorism by meeting their demands
Believe in a strong national defense. Stop terrorism by foreign policy and diplomacy that prevent grievances that foment terrorism.
Believe capitalism and entrepreneurship made our nation great. Believe the invisible hand of the market makes the most efficient use of capital. Believe thatallbasic human needs can be met by the free market.
Believe capitalism has corrupted everything. Believe that government should decide how capital should be invested. Believe all basic human needs should be met by government.
Believe Capitalism and entrepreneurship made our nation great. Believe the invisible hand of the market usually makes the most efficient use of capital, but that prevention of monopolies, public dangers, and moral imperatives must require some government intervention to avoid irreparable harm. Believe that most basic human needs can be met by the free market, but that certain markets are less efficient - for instance health care. Because it can't be reasonably valued, and there is no price transparency, government could step in and set up a single-payer free-market hybrid.
Believe abortion is morally wrong and should be reduced to zero. Favor outlawing all or most forms of abortion. Favor forcing women to take "personal responsibility" for an unwanted pregnancy by carrying to term.
Favor Abortion, enforced by the state, and used as ex-post-facto birth control.
Believe abortion is a sad and tragic choice, and should be reduced to zero. Favor increased access to contraceptives and sex education to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Realize that accidents happen, and family planning is not a function of government.
Favor government-sponsored religious instruction, symbolism, and decrees.
Would outlaw religion, and declare an athiest state.
Believe that the freedom of religion should be protected, and that the best way is to avoid mixing politics and religion, lest we cheapen them both.
Believe that taxes are too high, and that tax cuts will help the economy. Believe that the measure of a good economy is what is happening on Wall Street. Believe the GDP and employment rates measure economic success. Believe a national debt and trade deficit are nothing to worry about.
Believe taxes are too low, and that everything should belong to the state. Each should be paid according to what they need. (Communism) Believe economic success is evil. Would borrow money, but has no credit.
Believe that different times require different tax policy. Sometimes a tax cut is in order, and sometimes tax increases are needed for sound fiscal policy. Believe the true measure of a good economy is what is happening on Main Street - that median household income is a better indicator of economic success. Believes national debt and a trade deficit weaken our economic and physical security in the long run, and end up as an invisible tax on our citizens.
Well, as I look up, it is now almost 3 AM, and I am finally tiring, my coffee cup now cold. I hope this has made some sense. I would say that really what I'm trying to emphasize is that Democrats are NOT the opposite of Republicans, but rather, see a more pro-active and pro-liberty solution to most problems. Democrats try to get to the root cause and figure out what can be done to prevent, whereas Republicans take a more authoritarian stance that tends to deal with symptoms of the problem.
What we all need to do is tone down the partisan warring, and work on refining our collective American ideals based on logic and reasoning, research and evidence. Eventually, then we may still agree to disagree on some finer points, but more of us would be able to say that we are "moderates" and leave it at that. For now, I'll just say that I'm a moderate progressive Texas Democrat.
I just read this book "Radioactive Leadership" by Roy Alston, a fellow Texan. I am impressed with the book, and intend to read it again, this time with a highlighter and note pad. This common-sense approach to leadership reiterates the difference between managing and leading. Leading is something than anyone can do, whether or not they have people they need to manage. We lead our peers, we lead our bosses, we lead our charges, we lead our families. Alston provides a lot of common sense explanations of why things work the way they do, and how we can put leadership into practice.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is an activist, or who works for a living in the business world or in the public sector. This covers just about everyone.
Congratulations to Neil Durrance, who is the new County Chair of the Denton County Democratic Party. Though I was unable to attend the special meeting of the Executive Committee tonight for the elections, I am told that he won by a clear majority.
I am sincere when I say that I hope Mr. Travis Biggs will still join us as we kick things into high gear.
It is now being alleged that the Texas Attorney General's office, as well as Gonzales' Department of "Justice", IGNORED the Texas Youth Commission sexual abuse reports from Texas Rangers for OVER A YEAR due to political pressure. The prosecution was prepared by US Attorneys at the behest of the Texas Rangers, but when it went up the chain of command, the case was squashed.
For better or worse, the Denton County Democratic Party will elect a new county chair this Thursday, March 29th, at 7pm at the Denton County Courthouse on the Square, in Denton, TX.
The vacancy was caused by the ill health of the former Chairman, Dr. John Gossett, (pictured above, left of Chris Bell) who served the party well, and set in motion a structure and strategic plan that was forward-thinking. Dr. Gossett announced on March 19th that he had stepped down effective March 15th.
Prior to his departure, he had formed the functional committees that will serve as the basis of our efforts for years to come. Among the more active committees, as compared to previous years are the Issues and Policies Committee, Chaired by Neil Durrance; the Precinct Chair Leadership Committee, Chaired by John McClelland; and the Candidate Recruitment Committee, Chaired by myself, Steve Southwell.
It was originally planned and announced along with the notice that Dr. Gossett had stepped down, that candidates for the position would debate at our April 12th meeting, and the election would be on May 10th.
On March 20th, I emailed our party secretary and the Executive Committee, announcing my intent to formally request on March 23rd for an earlier election to be held at our normal April 12th meeting, citing the need for us to have firm leadership in place ASAP, in order for us to turn our plans into action before the primary season begins - especially given that the legislature is considering moving the primaries earlier.
For reasons I'm still not certain of, but are probably for the best, our secretary called the election for THIS Thursday night, March 29th.
Under party rules, a quorum consisting of a majority of the Executive Committee (Precinct Chairs) must be met, and must elect the new Chair by majority vote. If no quorum is made, an interim chair will preside until such time as there is a quorum, and the election can be held. According to Democratic Party rules, no votes may be made in secret, but it is unknown whether it will be a roll-call vote or a show of hands. (I suppose a camera would convert the latter to the former)
Now, here is what I think we need in a County Chair, here in Denton County:
Proven dedication to the party, demonstrated by work.
A commitment to supporting local candidates and local infrastructure by keeping Democratic donor money in our county.
Recognition that we are within striking distance of winning the battle for the hearts and minds of reasonable North Texas voters who are sick of the corruption, lies, and general malfeasance of our current elected leaders.
The trust and respect of those who DO for the party.
The initiative to take risks and try new methods and seek the advice of successful coordinated campaigns.
Until today, we had one candidate, who I believe has these attributes: Denton County attorney Neil Durrance (shown below addressing potential 2008 candidates and campaign staff at Project Farm Team's kickoff meeting) He has attended nearly every Executive Committee Meeting since I've been in the party. He's attended many committee meetings. He's reached out to other committee chairs, and he's driven his own committee to produce volumes of research that our candidates will use in 2008 to show voters the truth about Denton County. He's donated, volunteered, and offered whatever he can to the party.
Neil Durrance is not without detractors: A few members are put off by the fact that Neil is very opinionated and not afraid to rock the boat. He is polite, but not one to back away from confrontation. He is a trial lawyer, and I think this is actually an advantage. Politics is a game of hardball. I've actually found Neil very easy to get along with, and very responsive. He is a natural leader.
I do not personally know Mr. Biggs, though I don't claim to know everyone in the party. For those of you that know me, I've only been actively involved for about one year now, but I've been busting my rear trying to get things going - not just attending meetings, but spending money, and doing work. I've been trading billable hours for something intangible that may see fruit 2 - 10 years from now. To some extent, I would say that I'm a bit miffed to have someone step forward to try to take over the chairmanship, and me as a precinct chair and committee chair not know them.
Now don't get me wrong - I'm not disparaging the guy. Like I said, I don't know him. We are all Democrats and are on the same team. No matter who is elected, I will keep working toward the goal, and I will keep pushing for the plans that we have worked so diligently on since November 8th.
To me, the internal politics is the most unpleasant part of involvement in the party. I don't like to see division and territoriality. I like unity.
To that end, I personally am endorsing Neil Durrance for the position, and I ask other North Texas Democrats to support him too. We'll make room for Mr. Biggs as well. We can never have enough good people to do the real work that gets our goals achieved. I would like to ask my fellow Denton County Democrats to keep our election clean and collegial, setting an example of how we would like our elected leaders to act. At the end of the day, we need to all come together under the umbrella of the party, and not splinter off into quibbling splinter groups. Our plans for 2008 are BIG. They are more ambitious than we've had the opportunity to fully explain. We have a slate of potential candidates for 2008 and beyond who are looking at how we pull together and how well we organize before deciding to run. When we get more candidates of high quality, and we demonstrate an organized infrastructure and a cohesive message, our donors will be more inclined to keep their dollars where they belong: in Denton County. When this happens, we win.
The election takes place THIS THURSDAY, March 29th, 7pm at the Denton County Courthouse on the Square, in Denton, TX. All Democrats are invited and encouraged to attend. Unfortunately, due to a pre-planned business trip, I am in New York this week and am unable to make the meeting. This means that if you are a precinct chair, it is even more important for you to make it to the meeting.
I want to reiterate my sincerest thanks to Dr. John Gossett for taking on the role of County Chair, and sticking with it as long as he could, as well as stepping down when he felt he could no longer serve. He is a well-liked person by all in the party, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we wish him a speedy recovery so that he can rejoin our fight if he should so choose. Likewise, I thank his predecessors who have gradually rebuilt our party to the near-critical mass that we are now seeing.
Yesterday, a new massage client told me that she's decided to do the Breast Cancer 3-Day. After discussing her commitment to the cause, I had a hard time letting go of the thought the rest of the day. Long story made short... I signed up last night.
So... if there is anyone that is planning on walking (Katie) or if you're interested in joining me do a part to fight breast cancer, I'd love to get a North Texas Blue Walkers team for training support, during the event support, and general comraderie.