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Letters, Oct. 2

Remembering Bob Smith

Bob was my friend, a brother and a mentor when I was a student at Willamette University. A great and respected man, he was an icon of integrity and principle. His life story is genuinely American, and he was a dominant force in Oregon politics.

He once told me that when he was a student at Willamette, returning to campus with a date one night, the lady requested that he “see her to the door.” Always the gentleman, he shifted his Jeep into 4-wheel drive and drove up the steps, into Doney Hall and to her room door. Dean of students Mark Hatfield threatened him with expulsion. Who would have thought they would end up in Congress together?

Bob was a big man, a master at politics, and almost always prevailed on important issues. There was talk of his running for president, and he would have been a great one. When I saw him last at a charity golf tournament he looked good, was sharp and witty as usual and enjoying his life. He was an inspiration to many and the kind of honorable leader America needed then and could use now more than ever. Rest in peace, Bro!

James J. Clarke III

Portland

Yes, racism is systemic

Having been born and raised in a democracy, I was also fortunate to have parents who weren’t racists, and was taught to accept and respect all people regardless of skin color.

I noticed that all African Americans weren’t identically pigmented, some darker, some lighter, but assumed that was part of normal human diversity. The question I never thought to ask — why darker or lighter — was answered for me recently by a four-letter word: rape.

An opinion piece written by Caroline Randall Williams was published in the New York Times on June 28. It was titled “My Body is a Confederate Monument.” The first sentence of the piece was, “I have rape-colored skin.”

Around the time that this piece was printed, President Trump was on his crusade to honor the Confederacy, a culture of racism and rape. He continues his racism unabated with the full cooperation of congressional Republicans.

Together they constitute the highest level of our government/political system. Those who claim that racism isn’t systemic in the U.S. are liars.

Victor Mlotok

Phoenix

Unsung heroes

This is the story of some unsung heroes of the Almeda Fire — caregivers of Ashland Supportive Housing (ASH). Since 1982, ASH has provided 24/7 care for the developmentally/intellectually disabled in group homes including two in Ashland’s Quiet Village neighborhood.

At 11:15 a.m. on Sept. 8, caregivers at the ASH home on Almeda Drive spotted flames rising behind the back fence and immediately began evacuating residents. Within 15 minutes, all residents had been loaded into vans with go-bags, critical medications, wheelchairs, walkers and check-list items. Fifteen minutes, start to finish.

Caregivers had regular emergency drills to prepare for this day. They followed their training and drove the residents to the safe haven of Ashwood Inn where they made a party — crafts, pizza, movies and games. Some of these caregivers live in Talent and Phoenix. All of them stayed beyond the end their shifts, not knowing how their own homes had fared. By day’s end, all clients were returned safely home.

Two caregivers lost their homes and all possessions in the fire. Others couldn’t return home for days.

To help these heroes, donate to ASH’s emergency fire relief fund, PO Box 3536, Ashland, OR 97520. ASH is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Nancy A. Parker

Ashland

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