Sunday, September 23, 2012

Neal Family Archive Letters

To:  Kenneth W. Neal
From: Mary A. Beck (Ninth Grade English Teacher, Sand Springs High School)
Date: October 1, 1985

Dear Ken,

In the past three weeks I have written over two hundred thank you notes in long hand to express my appreciation of flowers, food, and memorial gifts. Now I can allow myself the luxury of a typewriter to express my thanks for the five or six letter that I will keep at hand and reread long after the flowers have wilted and the food is gone.

It has occurred to me a number of times in the past twenty years or so that I would like to let you know that I am proud of you; but I was afraid I would end by sounding a little bit presumptuous.

I have been proud of your courage, integrity, and your sane approach to public issues, but I realize that I have no right to take pride in any of those things. Your parents passed on their genes and then brought you up in a the way you should go. They deserve the credit.

Each Sunday morning I read the Opinion page first. I like your clarity of expression and your ability to get the message across. In all fairness I can take no credit for those qualities either. Writers are born, not made. Your talents were obvious when you were thirteen years old. Nor do I find any particular cause for self-congratulation in the fact that you spell correctly and know how to punctuate. All your teachers worked on those skills. I daresay the teachers of a number of your cohorts, notably David Wilson, worked equally hard but not very successfully.

I suppose the only thing I have the right to be proud of is that I recognized innate ability when I saw it. If feel privileged that you passed my way.


Mary Alice Beck

*Note:  Mrs. Beck helped Ken get his job as copy boy at the Tulsa World in 1953.

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