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Bishop D'Arcy remembered as a friend

Friday, February 8, 2013 - 10:56 am

We were friends. We talked baseball, even though he was an ardent Red Sox fan and I am a dyed-in-the-wool Orioles aficionado. But I thought Ted Williams the greatest, so I was forgiven for my Baltimore heresy.

We talked about our parents – their strengths, their moral values, their backgrounds, their effects on us. And our siblings, too – how dear they were, what growing up with them was like, how our attachments changed and grew as we matured.

He came to my home and joined the family as we celebrated Passover with our Seder. I had lunch at his home and spent time looking at the pictures of his family.

We talked about books and learning and education and society's need to help here and strengthen there. We talked politics and personalities. And sometimes we told stories and joked and laughed and just enjoyed being alive.

Some other good friends had a birthday party for me at the Summit Club, and Bishop D'Arcy was there. So-called friends turned it into a roast, and Granddaughter Wendy told about an incident when she and I were in Italy, just arriving at the train station in Firenze. Our luggage fell off the platform and under the train, and I used an expletive I had never used before. Of course, I had never had luggage misbehave like that before, either. Wendy was shocked, and said, “Grandma!” And then we laughed. But I was horrified she was telling that story in front of the bishop. Never mind; he took it in good stride and our friendship could continue.

My last contact with him was receiving a “thank you” note in which he asked me to call to set up a time when we could have “a good conversation again.” The note came from Boston, and then the news of his illness broke. I didn't know what to say.

I was also a tremendous admirer. I loved his compassion, his caring, his approach to Life, his devotion to his beliefs, his integrity. There were times when I wished he would bend a bit, but that integrity forbade bending. We worked together on projects, and I appreciated his participation, his skill in getting people to work together. He seemed to me to have a knack for developing a social conscience in many of the people involved. An example? Of course. Vincent House. He invited many of us to come to a meeting at which he talked about his dream of a Vincent House and he asked for volunteers to help make that dream come true. Almost every person in the room raised his or her hand – and some of those people are still involved in that very successful realization.

He was a good friend. I will miss him. And the community is far poorer because he is no longer here. But what wonderful memories we will always cherish – and how much good there is that might never have been except for Bishop John D'Arcy.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Betty E. Stein is a retired Fort Wayne Community Schools teacher who writes the Page Turner and By The Way columns for The News-Sentinel. She has served on many community organizations' boards and was the first woman president of the board of directors at Temple Achduth Vesholom, the city's Reform Jewish congregation.