THE IDLE AMERICAN: Memories are made of this

Published 12:38 pm Saturday, April 11, 2020

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Don Newbury

It is a good thing that we have memories to sort through while we shelter in place. Grammarians or not, we’re given to making the present tense, and the past, perfect.

 As we take stock of what used to be–while greatly shaken by “what is”– we think back on happenings faced hurriedly the first time. Some considered coincidences then may have been divine appointments.

Here’s one: A couple of university suitemates three decades ago believe the renewal of their friendship was re-ignited by a random telephone connection.

They received diplomas in 1990 at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, both honored in numerous ways as exemplary students. Anna Maree Delgado (now Ramos) and Melody Sheree Frerich (now Weinhandl) went their separate ways. Later, Anna–a directory assistance operator for Southwestern Bell in Austin–was among the last operators answering, “Long-distance” when folks needed phone numbers.

In 1997, Melody was settling in with her dentist husband, Dr. Brent (Smokey) Weinhandl, who had begun his practice in his native Canada. They had met when he was a dental resident in Denver, where she was employed at University Hills Baptist Church.

Two weeks after meeting at church, they were engaged to be married.

Melody called “Ma Bell” to get the phone number of a friend in New Braunfels. Thinking the voice of the operator in Austin sounded familiar, she asked, “Is this Anna Maree?” The response: “Is this Melody?”

It was, and soon they were reliving old college days, catching up on each other’s lives.

What are the odds that a telephone call from Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada, would be answered by a telephone operator in Austin? And that the women on each end of the line would have been college suitemates for three and a half years at a little Texas university almost a decade later? The older I get, the more I believe that our God of ages past–and for all the days to come–not only knows the number of hairs on our heads and feeds hungry sparrows, but He also reunites old friends, sometimes through a telephone “miracle.”

Maybe “exemplary” is not strong enough to describe these women, both of whom are warmly remembered on campus. They were well-grounded in their Christian faith and mature beyond their years.

Anna and hubby Eric Ramos have a daughter in her senior year at HPU now.

The family resides in Pflugerville, and Anna is employed by Dell Technology.

Melody and I have something in common. We both were HPU journalism majors, albeit three decades apart, and she was the last “J-school” graduate before the program was terminated during my HPU presidency. 

She is office manager for Smokey’s dental practice, where equipment has been modified for physically-challenged patients–widened doorways, for example.

Until a camping accident eight years ago, he never thought he’d be practicing dentistry from a wheelchair.

Full of faith and immeasurable courage, he overcame a traumatic spinal cord injury, broken back, three broken ribs and a cracked sternum. Fellow dentists in Casper, WY, “covered” for him during extensive recovery and therapy.

He’s back, practicing dentistry daily. The Weinhandls are committed to ongoing research for patients with similar injuries, and both continue to think “outside the box.” Last week, they contributed several dozen gloves and masks to Wyoming Medical Center to support medical colleagues on the front lines, fighting the coronavirus. They are urging fellow dentists, as well as veterinarians and other medical specialists, to join them in the effort. 

I’m beyond impressed by his website. It reflects his competence, courage, faith and compassion for patients. How many dentists do you know who publish both favorite scriptures and personal cell phone numbers on their websites? Check out, even if you don’t often get to Casper.


Dr. Newbury is a former educator who writes weekly and is a longtime public speaker. Comments/speaking inquiries to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury.