Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Hello Friends,

We are all coming to grips with the awful, senseless acts of violence that were leveled upon our friends and neighbors this past weekend here in Orlando.  The tragedy is beyond comprehension, and the sorrow that each family affected now faces is a heavy burden for them to bear.  Our hearts and our prayers go out to them, and our hope is that through these and the prayers of so many others around the world, God will bring them comfort.

We believe that when one person suffers, we all share in that suffering.  The death of one person is a loss to one and all, and the violence that comes out of hatred, while unspeakably terrible, is also devoid of all meaning.  No matter what was in the mind of the killer – one thing we know – it was totally wrong.

We grieve with the parents, neighbors, and friends of all of these innocent people who were struck down, and those who are suffering terrible injuries; they were and are people of peace.  We uphold with gratitude all who came to their aid, the police, the EMTs, the surgeons, nurses, and hospital staff members.  We pray that they all know that we stand with them, and admire all that they did, and continue to do, to help.

As the days and weeks unfold, we will learn more.  But what we know already is this:  Life is greater than death; love is stronger than hate; hope is more beautiful than despair; the building up of a person or community is far greater than tearing it down.  So today and each day, offer your life, your love, your encouragement, and your good work, trusting that God will see us through.

In Christ’s love,


John Dalles, Pastor

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Papa is with God...

Papa is with God.  He left us last night just before ten.  Mimi had been with him most of the day, and the rest of us had been with him for much of the evening.  When we got to Hospice, the change from yesterday was surprising and dramatic. He did not eat anything yesterday, was mostly sleeping, having more labored breathing and only responded with effort when prompted.  

We all left to go home around 8:30, and took Mimi home and then did a few helpful things there.  We were at our house maybe a half hour when the phone rang and it was the nurse from Hospice, named Hope, who told us that she had just gone into his room to check on him and he was gone.  It was about ten of ten.  We drove over to Mimi’s and told her in person, and asked her if she wanted to go back to Hospice to see his body—she said no, which was the right decision.  We also asked did she want to come to our house to sleep or have one of us stay there and she said no.  

So today will be one of making arrangements.  I do not know what Mom will decide.  I have some ideas, but will see what she is thinking, and go from there.

I am so grateful that he had such a good day on Sunday, so that everyone had interaction time with him, and he was able to truly enjoy them being there.  He had three good meals, and really loved his vanilla pudding at supper time Sunday. Taylor was there for part of the day and in addition to all the family, some dear friends, too.  He was obviously feeling much better than he had on Saturday in the hospital, and was sitting up in the bed smiling.  Of course people often do rally when the end is near, and this must have been what was happening on Sunday.  But we just thought he had found some new strength that might sustain him for some little while.  

I was reflecting with Judy that on Saturday when he was so uncomfortable and we all hurried to be there, he did say his I love you and good bye to each one of us.  He had also told Judy that he did not want Mimi to see him die or after he was dead.  it is good that the kids especially will now have that memory of his speaking to each of them, and telling them he loved them.

When he was admitted to Hospice, they gave Mimi a booklet about what signs pointed to the fact that death was near, starring about three months out.  Last night when we got back from being with Papa, after we headed home, she did a breathing treatment before bed, and as she was doing it, she was reading the booklet. Then, after we went over to tell her the news, she told us she had been reading the booklet and that she could see times in the past three months that pointed to what was happening, including his loss of interest in the political news, which he had been following eagerly up till then.  He also had told her that he had a goal of reaching his 94th birthday, which he did.  She said, “I’m mad at myself that I did not read the book as soon as they gave it to me (Saturday night)”.  I asked her if she would have felt any different about things had she read it sooner.  She wasn’t sure.

The Hospice people were very good with both of them and all of us.  I will say that the daytime nurse did not give us any clues that the time was as close as it was.  The night nurse who came on at 7 spoke of his labored breathing as “part of the process” which we all understood.  But she also said that his vitals had not changed, giving us the indication that while the end was approaching it did not sound as if it would be anytime soon.   So it made sense for us to go home.  I think maybe he was waiting for us to go, to leave us.

Mimi said several times over this weekend and again last night “We’ve had ten wonderful years here in Florida” and as we were talking with her on the phone when we were driving back to our house the last time last night she said, “You wish you could go on to the end together… but you can’t."

So we will go through the day step by step today.  Thanks for your prayers as we do so.

With love, 

John and Judy

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Isabel Roberts at Greenwood Cemetery - Orlando

Yesterday there was a ceremony honoring Isabel Roberts at the historic Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando, Florida.




Civic leaders, architects, historians, and many others who have an admiration for Ms Roberts and her life's work came together to dedicate a new grave marker at the site where she was buried alongside her mother Mary Roberts and her sister Charlotte, in 1955.





As a part of the program, I shared a talk called "Remembering Isabel Roberts".  It was a brief biographical sketch about her life, education, and work, in the Oak Park Studio and as one of the two partners in the Orlando architectural firm, Ryan and Roberts.  The next photo shows me with the grave marker.



For 61 years, Isabel Roberts' final resting place has gone mostly unnoticed.  Which parallels what happened to the awareness of her contributions to the architectural environment in the Chicago area and in Central Florida.

While in Frank Lloyd Wright's employment in his Oak Park Studio throughout its creative years, Isabel Robetrs is known to have designed the prairie style windows in a number of Wright's homes.  She was one of two of his last employees who kept the Oak Park Studio open as work that was on the boards was completed, after Wright went off to Europe with Mrs. Cheney.  In her application for membership  in the AIA, Isabel Roberts listed her own home and the K C DeRhodes Residence in South Bend, Indiana, as her work.  Isabel was an architectural designer.

There is no reasons to doubt the truth of her claim, as her fellow architects from Chicago state in letters of recommendation written on her behalf.  Hermann Von Holst (who oversaw the work at the Oak Park Studio after Wright departed) and John Van Bergen (a noted Chicago architect who was the other continuing member of the original Oak Park staff, after Wright had gone), both offered clear reference to Isabel's gifts as an architect.  Most importably, so did Wright himself, in a letter that begins with a breezy "To Anyone, Anywhere" and goes on to say that Isabel is an architect.

In 1920, Isabel moved from River Forest, Illinois, to St. Cloud, Florida.  There, she entered into an architectural practice with Ida Annah Ryan, the first women in the USA to receive a masters degree in architecture (from MIT).   Throughout the 1920s, they created some of the most notable buildings in the Orlando area, in both the Prairie Style and in the Mediterranean Revival idiom.  Some are now gone, some are still there, including the partners' own home and studio, and The Matilda Fraser Residence, one of the finest homes from their hands, built for a educator and women's suffrage friend of Anna Idah Ryan's who, like Ryan, moved from Boston to Orlando in the 1920s.



There are other fine examples of their work in St Cloud, including this Prairie Style house:





Most of this was long forgotten, because no one was around to tell the story.  Some of it was forgotten because as time progressed, the accomplishments of all of the Oak Park Studio draftsmen (five men and two women) were subsumed into the celebrated genius of Wright himself.

It is still a challenge for women in the field of architecture.  Think what a challenge it was for Isabel Roberts and Idah Ryan a century and more ago.  Their work - although still there as a reminder of their creativity - became obscured over time.

The placing of the grave marker on Isabel Roberts' grave is one step in helping our collective memory.  Another would be to identify those works of Ryan and Roberts which are still standing, and gracing our communities, so that they receive the recognition they deserve.  If you know of such structures, please contact me.






Wednesday, January 20, 2016

John and Anne - A Series

It started with the photo of them by the ocean when they were in kindergarten and first grade...



There are photos from each year.  Mostly at the beach.  Mostly the same pose.  Here are a few from down the years:





Thursday, January 7, 2016

Remembering Lee M Belknap



Yesterday Judy and I went to say farewell to a dear friend.  Lee M. Belknap was Judy's minister of music growing up at First Presbyterian Church in South Bend, Indiana.  He was also my colleague when I served that church as associate pastor in the years 1982 through 1987.  We both have so many dear memories of this good man and faithful servant of the Lord.  It was a tender and special day yesterday.

The memorial service was held in Lake Wales, so we drove down in the morning, and arrived with some time to catch our breath before going into the church for worship.  As one might expect, the Sanctuary was still adorned for the Christmas season, with two trees in the Chancel filled with white Chrismon ornaments, made out of satin, like small pillows, and very attractive.  Atop each of the trees was a descending dove, made of pearl beads.

The family were gathered together in the front row.  At one point in the worship service both of Lee's children spoke, Cherry and Kurt.  Judy grew up with them both, sharing junior choir, Sunday School and Camp Redbud memories that go way back.  They both spoke eloquently about their father and their mother Marie as well, who entered the Church Triumphant 14 years ago.  We sang a number of hymns as you would guess, since we were honoring a man who spent his life leading choirs and bell choirs, and teaching vocal and instrumental music.  The organist also played some favorite hymns and selections of Lee's, including Handel's Largo.

We were last in the receiving line, and so missed the chance to visit with the only other representatives of First Presbyterian Church of South Bend, who must have been at the very front, and scooted out before we could catch their eye.  But we did have a chance to visit with Kurt and Cherry and their families, and they talked about Marie and Judy's mom, Dottie, teaching Sunday School when they were very young, as well as about Lee and choir.  At one point the two of them plus Judy sang a rousing rendition of a song called "Announcements!" that Lee had taught them, back in Indiana.  I wish I had had my camera ready for a video of that!

Lee and I had many a great conversation over they years, and thoroughly enjoyed working together.  In retirement, he loved being part of a church that offered great music in praising God.  As we drove back home we reflected on many moments from those days, as well as from yesterday, and felt so blessed and thankful to have shared a part of the journey with Lee, Marie and their family.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Zechariah 3:4 – There are ordinary days and there are special days.  On special days, we often wear party clothes; so that what we wear reflects the reasons we celebrate.  God takes our guilt away every day, so every day is worth celebrating.  Today, put on a smile, put a spring in your step, greet people so that they are glad to have seen you.  In short, look as if you are celebrating, don’t let your dress or demeanor drag the day down.  This is a Wekivaword.

Photo of McWay Falls © by John A. Dalles

Friday, December 4, 2015

1 Corinthians 11:32 – Discipline moves us from being awkward to being adept, at anything we do, especially daily living.  Permit God’s discipline to move you from being a novice to an expert in the faith.  This is a Wekivaword.