September 30, 2018: A Very Partial Story of Dr. Brigitte Pointeck-Delay

It has been a hard summer of many things, interspersed with moments of tranquility. Personally, I am better dealing with hard things when tranquility is the pattern, so it has been a struggle.

Politics have been outright disgraceful, shameful—and they continue. And while it has been said that all politics are local, in this world at this time, it is also global with the effects in America profoundly disturbing. It is a difficult time to feel good in that regard.

Friends, on the other hand, are clearly local and friendships by nature are a pattern of positive contributions, even if they can be punctuated by struggles. In the backdrop of so much political turmoil, another personal loss is especially difficult.

Dr. Brigitte Pointeck-Delay passed away on Thursday, August 23, 2018 at her home in Eugene, Oregon after a brief battle with terminal pancreatic cancer. John, her husband of over 60 years, was at home with her as they both wanted.

Brigitte was born in Germany and as a child endured the ravages of war which was no small feat. She and John met there in the early 1950s while she worked at a American base and he was serving in the United States Air Force. They were married in Germany and moved to Nebraska, near John’s hometown, in 1958. While he pursued a teaching credential, Brigitte, as she was determined to do, sought out a job, though she was new to the United States and it was not the norm for wives to hold jobs.

After John earned his teaching credentials, they moved to California where he became a teacher and coach. Brigitte, intent on learning, attended college, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Austrian Literature and worked as an editor on a Journal of Austrian Literature and taught German and French at a local community college where I met her in the early 1970s. Along the way, she studied for and obtained her United States citizenship, something she was very proud about. Having grown up in Germany during the war, she learned close up about the ravages of war and dictators. I think it was for this reason that she fully embraced the founding principles of the United States, though she never lost her love for birthplace or her heritage. Certainly, she expressed dismay that if the United States lost its way, where in the world would people like her go to live the principles of this country. Though Germany became democratic and though Brigitte remained hopeful for a bright future for her birth country, she had found her home.

John often spoke about how much his life was changed and improved by Brigitte—a “great influence,” he said. Brigitte, a bit more reserved, would speak about how deeply John mattered to her, mostly when she simply could not contain her feelings—though those feelings were really always there. It was obvious numerous times throughout their marriage as well as in her final days, when John’s presence was of the utmost importance to Brigitte. She wanted to be with him and he with her. And it was that way.

Thank you, Brigitte, for being you. I hope your concerns about the present state of politics will not become reality. There will always be the few who would be exploiters, but that does not mean they should be our leaders. You lived in such times to know this well. And you lived in times of opportunity that allowed you and John to thrive and to contribute. How hard is it to figure out which is best?

For those who knew her, Brigitte will be missed. But to not have known her, would have been a greater loss. John knows this better than anyone. Their friends know it also—and I am glad to have been her friend. Friendships are always a bright spot and the death of a friend is not the death of a friendship. Even politics derailed cannot take that away.

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