S: Karen Vedder - A 40-Year Friendship
BC: Here's to many more!
FC: Karen My friend for forty years
1: It all began 40 years ago when in 1971 Lew applied for a Federal Science grant in Economic Education at Ohio University. Rich Vedder was one of the professors in the summer institute. At the end of the class, he and Karen invited all the students to their home. We stayed after most of the participants left talking. We discovered we both like to play bridge. Thus began a lifetime of bridge games. Karen and Lew were partners, and Rich and I were partners. We played regularly and kept a going tally. After about 3 months we decided it was time for the losers to take the winners to dinner. Since it was the winner's choice, we had dinner in various cities and restaurants. Over the next few years, we spent week-ends in New York City, Cincinnati, Columbus, Lebanon, and the Three Sisters Inn.
2: Our trip to New York was very interesting. Rich was asked to speak to the Swedish-American Institute about immigration. The four of us left Athens right after school, and drove quickly to Columbus and boarded a plane to Newark. When we landed in Newark, we grabbed a cab to NYC and quickly checked into the hotel. Then it was off to the Swedish Consulate for cocktails. Of course there was the little problem of having only one invitation, but Rich argued that with a name like Karstensson they couldn’t refuse us entrance. And he was right. It was a great party, and afterwards we had a late dinner at Beef and Brew. After a few beers we decided to walk through the Plaza Hotel. Apparently they had a musical event and on every floor were pianos in the hallway. Karen was not satisfied until she tried every one of them. It was late enough that there was no security to bounce us out. The next day Rich presented his paper, and Karen and I went shopping. We had tickets for Jesus Christ Superstar with Ben Vereen – an absolutely fabulous Broadway show. Lew bought a big button with "JC Superstar" on it. We had a great meal @ Mama Leone’s. When we grabbed a cab to return to our hotel, the cab driver asked Lew if he was one of those Ivanhoe Witnesses. He and Lew went back and forth and Rich, Karen and I could hardly contain ourselves in the back seat. Needless to say, the cab driver got a big tip. The trip was a big hit, and we decided to continue the tradition.
3: Rich again had an appointment in Washington DC, and the four of us went together. Since Lew and I were novices to Washington, Rich wanted to make this trip special. We had a Mobile Guide and had read up on the many opportunities for sightseeing, Rich decided that we should all make a list of three places we wanted to see and list them according to our preference. He found a hat where we put our lists. With a Vedder flourish, he drew the papers one by one from the hat. Each of us was able to have our first two wishes granted. Of course Karen thought it would have been just as easy to talk it out, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable.
4: The Golden Lamb in Lebanon Ohio as well as their sister restaurants – Chester's Roadhouse and La Normandie in Cincinnati - were favorite dinner locations as well. Even the Three Sisters in McConnelsville was a fun trip. Our trips diminished when Karen became pregnant with Virin “Veegle”Vedder. We had planned a trip to Ernie’s in San Francisco, but Karen’s doctor wouldn’t let her travel. We missed you, Karen, but Rich, Lew and I enjoyed it anyway – guess that wasn’t being a very good friend! | Rich & Kathy on a Cable Car in San Francisco | Golden Lamb in Lebanon OH | Ernie's in San Francisco
5: When Lew was offered a job in Texas, Rich and Karen traveled along to help Lew & Kathy house-hunt. Kris was just one week old, and she did all right until Kathy decided to have Mexican food. Poor baby had gas the whole next day. Thanks to Rich and Karen, the Karstenssons found a great home in Texas. As usual we had to have dinner at a great restaurant. We chose Southern Kitchens in Dallas - an upscale all-you-can-eat restaurant. Great Food, and Great Fun!
6: We didn't always leave Athens county. We had a fun afternoon on the Hocking Valley Railroad. Of course it was a crisp fall morning - very early as I recall, but we had to be the first to get to the station. Whatever we did we always had the Vedder production!
7: When Lew got his doctorate, there had to be a party. But since Kristina was on the way, there also had to be a baby shower. Only Karen and Rich would combine the two into one party. And like all their parties, it was a good one - plenty to drink and eat, and live entertainment until the neighbors decided the band made up of some of Karen's students was getting a little too loud.
8: With being so far away, it was more difficult to get together, but the Vedders and Karstenssons managed to meet in Nashville the following summer. Now Karen was determined that the little ones would be able to swim, so we found a motel that had an indoor swimming pool. We should have suspected something when we check in and there was a sign about renting for a night, a week, or a hour. We got unpacked and went down to the pool. When we returned after dinner, we discovered it was truly the “Roach Motel.” Karen and Kathy barely slept as they were protecting the babies against the dreaded bugs. The next day, we found a motel – a new one right across from The Grand Ole Opry. That night Karen and Kathy went to see Minnie Pearl and the gang.
9: In 1979 Lew took a job at UNLV in Las Vegas. Rich and Karen again came along to help us house-hunt. That same year Rich was offered a visiting professorship at Claremont in California. It turned out to be a great opportunity for Karen and Kathy to get together. Kris had just started kindergarten, so Kathy and Kris would drive down to California on Friday afternoon and spend time with the Vedders. We were there for some week-ends which included birthday parties. The kids got to know each other – Virin introduced Kris to splashing in the puddles in new shoes and how not to put out candles with paper napkins. Rich, Karen, Virin and Vanette came to Las Vegas to spend Thanksgiving. The fun for the kids was “Milky the Cow.” Not being from the farm, they learned all about how cows give milk.
10: Our next special time together was in 1991 when Rich, Karen, Virin, Vanette, Kris, Linne and Kathy met at Disneyland just before Christmas. It was a beautiful time to be there. We all had a great time and Kathy even rode the Matterhorn and other rides – there were no lines!
11: Karen was very good about coming to visit us in Las Vegas. Twice there were “gully-washers” when she came. It was raining so hard, and blowing so fiercely that the water came in the window air slots. The wind picked up the patio umbrella and set it free and tossed the table and chairs up against the block wall. Another time we were in Walmart shopping, and it was raining so hard that we spent two extra hours shopping – that wasn’t too hard for us as we both love to shop. When the rain finally subsided, we took off our shoes and waded barefoot across the parking lot to my car. I think that was the time Karen bought a rug for Virin, and we rolled it in plastic so she could check it as baggage. I’m not certain how she was able to get them to accept it as baggage! One time she had such a great shopping spree that she bought a 3-piece set of luggage to get it home. She only used two bags and told me to send the other one to her. But I knew she planned to come out the next summer, so I kept it knowing she would need an extra bag then.
12: When I had breast cancer in 2001, Karen, a breast cancer survivor herself, sent cards and called encouraging me. That spring, she flew out to join my team in the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure. Whenever she came, she tried to leave something so I would remember her visit. Often she would plant flowers in my garden, and each spring when they started to bloom, I would remember the love she gave as a gift to me with her visits.
13: Besides the summer visits, whenever Rich spoke at a conference here in Las Vegas, Karen would try to come along. My girls absolutely love their “Auntie Karen” and “Uncle Rich”! We met them one trip at the MGM Grand and as was his habit, Uncle Rich wandered away. We looked around and he was nowhere to be found. All of a sudden in a her very loud teacher voice, Auntie Karen yelled “MORON!” In just a few seconds, Uncle Rich came around the corner with a sheepish grin on his face. There was never a dull moment when Karen and Rich were around.
14: The summer after Kris graduated from college, Kris and I met Rich and Karen in Long Beach. We toured the Queen Mary and other sights. We stopped at a Beef and Brew, and Karen in typical fashion engaged the waiter in conversation. She tried to get information on jobs in the area so that Kris might get information. She also found out the status of the waiter in case Kris might be interested in this cute guy! She was always looking to help others have a happier life.
15: When Kris got married, Rich and Karen came to help her celebrate. It was at a YMCA camp in the Rockies. They were there for the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding and at the outdoor wedding. Karen took pictures and had a photo book to me even before the photographer's pictures and those taken by Charette were available. She knew that the best present was a photo record of the event.
16: They were there again to celebrate with us when Linne was married in Las Vegas. Even a little cool weather for the rehearsal dinner did not deter them from being part of the party. What a wonderful friend Karen has been to share the special times with me. It also was another excuse to get in a few bridge games with my friend, Romi.
17: Since our kids have grown, married, and had children of their own, we have been able to get together more frequently. When Karen and Rich moved into a new house in Athens, I was able to return the favor of helping settle in - Kristie and I arranged her kitchen, which had to be rearranged as they lived there. Also I was able to recover the chair seats in her dining room. Now I'm retired and I can visit Karen more often, seeing old friends, playing bridge, meeting new friends while enjoying Karen's gracious hospitality.
18: For Rich's 70th birthday and second retirement, Karen held a small party for 200 of his closest friends. What fun we had! Of course the food was great, the entertainment firsts-class, and the evening a smash hit! Karen, always the hostess with the mostest!
19: Karen wears many hats - she's mother, grandmother, auntie, teacher, volunteer,neighbor, wife, and my treasured friend for forty years.