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Talkin' with Sal: In a state of mourning

Talkin' with Sal: In a state of mourning


I was the punchline frequently.

Roasts, toasts, dedications, ordinations, elaborate dinners. You name it, he told the same story. And I was the punchline.

And I would give the moon, the stars and the sun to be the punchline just once more.

Newly ordained, residing with the kindly Father John Meyer in the white clapboard house at the corner of Ivinson and Sixth, Father Carl Beavers was exactly what the unruly junior high kids at St. Laurence O’Toole School needed in the fall of 1968.

He tried unsuccessfully to teach me at age 12 about math. Math was not my deal, then or now.

Some kind of equations or story problems on the chalkboard were the order of the day.

Lo and behold, the loud, curly-haired kid with glasses raised her hand.

“Finally! Finally, I thought, I’ve made a breakthrough. Finally, because of my stellar teaching methods, she gets it,” he would crow with glee in those banquet speeches.

“I called on her and she said, ‘Father, you misspelled nickels.’”

When you know a man all of his ordained life, from the time he was freshly ordained and you were in junior high through his “retirement,” you just assume you’ll know him forever.

Along with yellow roses, a Mass and absolutely no eulogies and no cremation, among my own funeral stipulations was that he would be the celebrant.

After all, he concelebrated my wedding, and it is not his fault that the marriage is no more.

He brashly walked into the lobby at my place of work and offered me another job when I was perfectly happy with the one I had.

Decades later, he offered me yet another job while sitting at a University of Wyoming Hall of Fame banquet.

He loved my family, all of us.

He was smart, and he knew it.

But that’s not what I cared about. It may be what I cared about the least.

He had this twinkle in his eyes that was mesmerizing. He smiled often and laughed a lot.

He loved life, whether it was on his farm or on the golf course or at a football game.

In “retirement,” he traveled the state, filling in for priests. His requests far outnumbered the hours in a Sunday.

He was beloved in Torrington, where he managed St. Joseph’s Children’s Home and brought it to its preeminent place in treatment of emotionally disturbed children.

He was beloved at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Cheyenne. Parishioners there threatened to protest when the bishop announced he would be leaving after 17 years.

He was in Jackson, considered by some to be the plum assignment in the diocese simply because of the geography.

And he was in Rock Springs, managing two groups of very loyal parishioners merged into one community.

Everywhere he went, he made lasting impressions on people and the circle of those who admired him multiplied. Today, the entire state is in a state of mourning.

I spoke with him by phone on Tuesday, July 21, and Thursday, July 23. They were just normal, loud conversations about everything and nothing. I thought I would see him soon.

I picked up both times. He did not leave a message.

What I would give to hear that booming voice just one more time, even if he was making fun of me.

Follow Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @wyosas.


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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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