Giants who wouldn’t pull rank

Edgar's picture



Sometimes, selfless decisions are made without fanfare, yet come to light years later. We’re running short on noble decisions of late, yet those made decades ago by two prominent Arizonans--both affectionately “adopted”--are noteworthy. Senator John McCain’s recent death resulted in much reflection on his life of service to his country, including his imprisonment in Viet Nam for more than five years. When captors realized his prominence, they saw great public relations value in releasing him soon after imprisonment. He immediately balked, indicating that he would wait his turn. And he did,


“staying put” as a prisoner for four more years of punishment and degradation. Late columnist Erma Bombeck--a “favorite daughter” of Arizona during the final 25 years of her life--made a similar decision a quarter-century later, not from a prison cell, but from a hospital bed…. Gravely ill with a kidney disease, she had the opportunity to move “up the list” for a transplant, thanks to her celebrity status. She’d have no part of it, vowing to wait her turn. When that time came, months later, she was too ill to survive the surgery when a kidney implant was attempted. One of the world’s wittiest persons, her columns brightened millions of lives. She died in 1996 at age 69, still meeting column deadlines until shortly before her death.


Erma’s death robbed readers of smiles. She could coax more grins from a column of 400 words or so than anyone I’ve ever read. And those “grins” often erupted into belly laughs that left us making apparel adjustments, wiping away joyful tears, or--in the case of women—“unsmudging” their mascara…


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