"It's not what you have, but what you give
to your family, your community, and your country."
--Hallie E. Ford, 1905 - 2007
A girl from the Oklahoma Territory
she lived the Great Depression,
saw the shuttered Dust Bowl farms,
the black rollers that blew the prairie bare.
She hugged mothers and sons
Dorothea Lange might photograph,
felt their spirit-crushing want.
Hardened, independent, she
put herself through college so she
could share her love of books and art
and common sense.
Headed west to Oregon, to teach.
Knew the grunts of men pulling
green chain, the whirring blades,
the smell of fresh fir planks.
Raised two children, raised them proper.
She read, painted, loved her kids,
said fewer words than most.
Never stopped learning,
never stopped giving.
And what would she say to you,
the students and professors who walk these halls?
What wisdom from her 102 years?
Carry on with your education.
Carry on with your dreams to help others.
Carry on through the pain that comes with life.
Carry on with your love for family.
Carry on this humble tradition.
-- Steven Lont