Remembering Bob, Muggs

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, June 23, 2016

Art Brown called to say that Dodai had called him to say that her father, Robert Wilson, had died. Bob had moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., to be near his other children and Dodai had followed. My wonderful friend Gelolo Iris Kell Wilson had brought him back to Tryon to retire.

They had architect Holland Brady design additions and renovations to the log cabin that her father, J. S. “Dick” Kell, had built for her family years ago. It was then a delightful abode, ideally suited for entertaining friends. We were often their guests and they ours, lo those many years ago!

Then Gelolo developed cancer. I would always check that Bob’s car was in their drive before I stopped in to visit Gelolo (in my day a gentleman did not call on a married lady unless her husband was also present). Bob insisted that I stop in any time I was in Tryon. Gelolo would put on a robe and pad into their big living room, where we would have a wonderful time reminiscing about our younger days in Tryon.

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After her death, Bob joined the remnant of Aunt Mildred’s “Girls” (all also deceased) for breakfast as we began to meet at TJ’s in Tryon. I asked Bob to try always to make it to our breakfasts, because if he were not there, Art would “practice” hassling me instead. He still does, thank goodness!

The late Muggs Corpening was my late brother Bill’s great friend during and after their days at Tryon High. I enjoyed being the beneficiary of their friendship when I accompanied Bill on our rounds visiting each other’s friends. We always came to Tryon in October to eat our way around the Carolinas with Aunt Mildred and her friends, “The Girls,” so named by Fran because they were all in their 70s then.

Bill told me about taking his Golden Retriever, Chelsea, along to visit Muggs once, and she lived up to her breeding by splashing in the creek they crossed on the way in. Fran and I enjoyed having Lila book our travels because we always had to “visit” while Lila did her thing for us.

And I enjoyed being pampered by their lovely daughter-in-law Jennifer, who was always on hand to help me get ready for the surgeons at St. Luke’s Hospital. Now she has moved up into management, so we don’t get to see her very often any more. But I have to say that her successors are just as caring . . .

George Comparetto, curator of the Polk County Historical Association’s museum in Columbus, called to remind me that Willard Pace also contributed a flat wood carving not on display, and a “snake lady” wood carving that is. Willard also painted a mural in the meeting room at Hospice of the Carolina Foothills below Landrum. I still marvel that my modest, unassuming friend possessed and shared so much natural artistic talent: writer, sculptor and craftsman.

Yes, the tapestry of my long life has been enriched by the threads of the gifted and talented people I have known. Some are represented by large areas of the cloth, others by remarkable threads that appear but briefly to brighten the landscape of my life.

Of everything I have tried to do, I know someone personally that is better at it than I. But their influence has improved me to be better than I might have been. For all of them I am thankful and forever grateful. Amen.