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December 9, 1997

Let me tell you what I know about Nevilyn Throckmorton. She came here a few years ago with her husband, Craig, who works seven days a week checking oil wells in this area. They now have two good-looking sons, Alonzo and Solomon. Both of the boys are promising athletes and they are encouraged to keep physically fit by their mother, who is a regular patron of the YMCA when her health permits.

Nevilyn was hired as a teacher at the Perry Middle School and she is one of the all-time brightest additions to our local faculty. I use that adjective in terms of innovative methods, like bright ideas, but certainly she could light up a classroom all by herself by just flashing one of her famous smiles. She is an avid photographer. It doesn't take much of a stretch to picture her in front of the lens, as a model. I think she is almost a ringer for Sandra Bullock of the movies.

One of her school projects was the development of a service learning class for her eager young students. The objective appears to be seeking out areas of community needs where these boys and girls can render a service, and countless tasks have been carried out by them in the process. She thought the youngsters ought to have a concept of what constitutes a million of anything, so for the past two years she has enrolled the town's help in collecting one million pull tabs from aluminum soft drink cans. The goal hasn't been reached yet, but the kids are beginning to understand that "one million" is indeed a lot, and not just some abstract quantity with no real meaning.

At her church, the First Presbyterian, where she is a regular in Sunday school and worship services, she coordinated another collection project -- gathering labels from Campbell soup cans to assist the Goodland Children's Home, a church-supported institution at Hugo.

A while back, Nevilyn learned that she had breast cancer. She received the customary treatment, then radical surgery, and for a while it appeared the matter was resolved. But recently an examination showed it has not gone away and that dictated the need for chemotherapy. That followed consultation with a respected authority in California and now Nevilyn is taking the treatment here in Oklahoma. Even with the loss of her dark, shoulder-length hair, she is handling the situation with good humor and a degree of bravery that most of us only wish we had. In the midst of this, her husband's father has had a serious health, setback at his home in Ohio and Nevilyn has been asking for prayers for him while acknowledging the strength she herself is drawing from the many prayers being offered on her behalf.

I am by no means a close friend of the Throckmorton family but I do see Nevilyn and the boys at church every Sunday and from them I have learned to appreciate the many extraordinary qualities that this family is demonstrating. The final outcome remains to be seen, but she has already made clear to me how devastating circumstances are to be met -- with head held high, courage, a winning smile, faith in God and the recognition of the dependency each of us has for the strength of those around us. I am better for having known these folks.