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January 2000

A Month of Losses

The loss of the Mars Polar Lander on December 3, 1999 was difficult for all of us interested in space science and exploration. Many of us experienced a grief not unlike what we feel when we lose a close friend or loved one.

For those of us in the OCA the grief of losing a good and close friend that same week was all too real. Long time OCA member, member of the board of trustees, and Beginner's Class instructor Don French passed away on November 29.

There is a memorial page and guest book where members tell of their memories of Don on the OCA web site at www.ocastronomers.org. Don was always enthusiastic about astronomy. He demonstrated that in countless hours sharing astronomy through our beginner's class, our Explore the Stars program, and our regular outreach programs. We will miss Don very much.

But the losses did not stop there. Long time OCA member and past officer in several capacities, Wayne Johnson (Mr. Galaxy) and his wife Arlene also had a significant loss this past month. The rest of this president's letter contains excerpts from two messages Wayne sent to OCA.

Message #1

This past Wednesday night, Dec 8/9, our house with everything in it, burned down to the ground. We got okay with our 3 cats, but anything astronomical, anything that had memories associated with it, is now ashes. Arlene and I watched it burn down for almost six hours in freezing cold weather. I tried to put out the fire with a hose when we first detected it, but by then it was probably too late. It looks like the problem may have been with a faulty fireplace, since we started smelling burning plastic about 15 minutes after I started a fire in the fireplace, but we won't know for sure until the fire inspector gets done with his investigation. I wanted to get rid of some stuff when we moved out here, but not quite so thoroughly. There's nothing like a fiery entrance into a new location! Arlene says that we lived in our new home for 2 months and 6 days. I had just finished making book and storage shelves and we were in the middle of organizing our stuff.

Message #2
[Wayne sent this message after a number of OCA members expressed our concern and asked if there was anything we could do.]

I must thank everyone for being so concerned. Arlene and I (and the tres gatos) are doing fine though probably suffering more from cabin fever than anything else right now. I think we've finally admitted to ourselves that the fire really did happen as evidenced by several visits to a chimney surrounded by a pile of rubble and that we didn't do anything to cause it as evidenced by our talking with many, many people who have had it happen to them or knew of someone who experienced something similar. Our insurance is supposed to set us up in a rental house next week for about a year until our home gets rebuilt. We are just now starting to make very preliminary plans for what we want to see in the new home since we have been given the opportunity , but not necessarily the funds! In reality we'll probably end up with half the house we had, but we'll make do.

One favor to ask is if there was anyone who attended our wedding at the 1994 RTMC and still has pictures or possibly videos, we would like copies of the event. We lost absolutely everything: pictures, memorabilia, telescopes, eyepieces, charts, computers, software, tools and 6,000 pounds of books and historical papers.

One lesson is to keep duplicates of important items in a separate location or keep them in a good safe.

Clear skies, Wayne (aka Mr. Galaxy) work ph: 520-663-9686

While OCA will be looking at ways to help Wayne and Arlene recover some of their astronomical life, individual members are encouraged to help if they feel they can play a role in replacing some of those losses that no amount of money or insurance can do.


"The goodness of the night upon you"
Othello Act 1 Scene 2

Russell Sipe

Links:-
Don French Memorial Page
and guest book

Prior Presidents Messages
 July 2017 President's Message
 June 2017 President's Message
 May 2017 President's Message
 April 2017 President's Message
 March 2017 President's Message
 2012 OCA Board Election Results
 April 2010 President's Message
 February 2010 President's Message
 January 2010 President's Message
 November 2009 President's Message
 October 2009 President's Message
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 August 2009 President's Message
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 March 2009 President's Message
 May 2008 President's Message
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 December 2007 President's Message
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 Around OCA for February, 2006
 February 2005 President's Message
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