Morning Flight, Oil on Panel, 32" x 48", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
I wish to thank my friends for sharing their fathers when we were young. In addition to my own father of whom I have written extensively (I have the benefit of being surrounded by his artwork as reminder of his extraordinary qualities and talents), two of my friends’ dads had considerable influence in my life. Glen Jones and Al Gabrielsen helped guide me and many others through adolescence and early teen years. Margean and Grace, Scott’s and Evan’s moms, were our cheerleaders and at least as influential.
Coach Jones helped me through some very difficult and stressful times. He coached our little league baseball team, the Blue Eagles, and was a scout leader. He taught baseball fundamentals to a bunch of easily distracted pre-teen rowdies. Our skills improved from year to year due to his patience and perseverance. He taught and exemplified good sportsmanship to a bunch of pre- and early teens and their parents. He devoted his talents and extra time to instilling in us strong values, the highest ideals from both scouting and sports. During my first summer scout camp, I was miserably home sick. He listened and understood. He watched out for me and let me follow him around like the forlorn puppy I was. He had a passion for fishing and showed me which flies and lures to use and the ideal spots to cast and how fast to reel. He was a very kind and selfless man with a huge heart.
Mr. Gabrielsen, an architect, was a veteran of World War II. I spent so much time in my friend Evan’s home, his parents often referred to me as Rick Van Gabrielsen. I once asked my parents if Evan's parents could adopt me. (I’m sure it had nothing to do with being grounded.) Mr. Gabrielsen was an armchair philosopher and had well-informed opinions on most everything. He too was a scout leader who had a survival skillset from his prior military experience. Around campfires he recounted stories and personal experiences from the war which, as I recall, improved with each telling. He told harrowing stories of close quarter, face-to-face encounters with Germans and their submachine guns. He served an LDS mission to Scandinavia. If memory serves, he would tell us that during his two-and-a-half years there, he was instrumental in a total of negative two (-2) Mormon converts, having presided over the excommunication of two church members for some grievous sin. He was a smart and thoughtful man who gave generously of his time and considerable talents.
Glen and Margean Jones and Al and Grace Gabrielsen reared lovely families. They improved the lives of those around them. Their rich legacies continue.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com. Rob’s second novel, a beautifully written suspense drama that takes place in Utah, Wyoming, and Norway, dropped on November17, 2020. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Bookstore and your favorite local bookshop, this novel, The Contortionists, which Rob himself narrates for the audio version, is a psychological page-turner about a missing child in a predominantly Mormon community. I have read the novel and listened to the audio version twice. It is a literary masterpiece. The Contortionists, however, is not for the faint of heart.
**Richard J Van Wagoner is my father. His list of honors, awards and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in many traveling shows domestically and internationally. My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com are hers