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You are here: Davis of Iowa > Jim Davis's Biography > Part XIII                    Click HERE to go to Part XIV





(2003  - 2010)


Entering a new chapter in my life – Francine M Hitchcock –


I planned a trip to Scottsdale, AZ in late January, 2003.  I had spent little time in Arizona previously and wanted to become better acquainted with Arizona living. Beverly invited me to visit them during the Pennsylvania winter. I also decided that living alone was not something that I was prepared to do, despite my wonderful immediate family and a great extended family, who were scattered throughout the United States.  I loved driving trips and was looking forward to driving across the country and visiting Beverly and Allan.  Don and Pat agreed to watch my house for the several weeks I would be gone.


I drove to Kim’s in Hudson for a weekend and left on Monday morning for Arizona.  I drove mainly Interstates as the winter time was not a time to do a leisurely scenic drive, especially through the Midwest.  Fortunately, the weather was good and the Interstates  were clear of ice and snow. Beverly and Allan lived in a three bedroom house, in a very nice residential development, named Terravita.  It was in the very northern part of Scottsdale. I arrived having spent two nights on the road.  They welcomed me with open arms.  I attended several parties with them and explored the possibility of purchasing a house in Terravita.  It so happened with September 11 and an uncertain economy that the housing market was somewhat depressed at that time.  There were more houses on the market than normal and there was a good opportunity to purchase a second home or investment property at a reasonable price in Terravita at that time. 


I searched the real estate listings in Terravita and drove past many of the listings.  I contacted a realtor suggested by Beverly and asked him about  several houses which I thought might be the best investments.  He showed them to me one afternoon.  I decided to negotiate on one specific two bedroom with a separate office and purchased it for less than $200,000.  The closing took place three weeks later.  The house was vacant and empty of furniture.


On Saturday morning, February 1, 2003, Beverly and Allan hosted a good friend and neighbor of theirs who had rented his house in Terravita for the winter, as he and his wife were traveling that winter.  He joined the three of us for breakfast at Beverly’s home.  We were watching television which was broadcasting the return of the Columbia spaceship landing from its 15 day mission.  When the Columbia was somewhere over Dallas, TX on its approach to Kennedy Space Station, in Florida the Columbia broke up.  The accident investigation concluded that a piece of foam insulation which fell off the Columbia during launch, had damaged a wing which led to the disaster.  Seven astronauts lost their lives in this the second NASA tragedy (The first was when the Challenger Space Shuttle was lost on January 28, 1986 just 73 seconds from lift-off.  That space craft broke up also killing 7 astronauts.)  For the next several weeks the news about the Columbia and the search for parts of it and other debris from the disaster dominated the national news.


Between, watching the TV coverage of  the Columbia disaster  and eating breakfast, their neighbor described the renter of their house for the next three months.  The neighbor picked the renter up at the airport as the renter was shipping her car and personal supplies from Minneapolis to Scottsdale. The neighbor  did the neighborly thing and picked her up at the airport.  He took her to their house and made sure that the renter had everything she needed and knew what she needed to know about the house. 


He described the renter as a neat lady who was a young widow and was still working at a public relations firm. The more he talked about her, the more interested I became.  I then told my sister that I wanted to meet this renter.  Their guest gave Beverly the renter’s name (Francine  Hitchcock) and phone number and asked Beverly to telephone her to make sure that she had everything that she needed.  A couple of days later, Beverly, Allan and I were walking Terravita and we just happened to walk past their friend’s house which Francine was renting.  My sister said “that is the house that Francine is renting”.  My response was let’s go  see  if she is home.  Beverly responded that “we can’t do that”.  I said “sure we can, we go to the door and ring the doorbell”. 


Beverly relented so, with her between Allan and me, we went to the door and rang the bell.  Francine came to the door a couple of minutes later, clearly preparing for a dinner engagement.  Beverly introduced herself and told Francine that “ the owner of the house asked her (Beverly) to look in on her (Francine) to make sure she had everything she needed and that we would like to have dinner with her when Francine was available”.  Fran invited Beverly into the house to write down her name and contact info.  Beverly came from the house a couple of minutes later and said that we having dinner in a couple of nights! 


That is how I met Francine M Hitchcock on February 2, 2003!  However, she does not remember either Allan or me standing at the front door twiddling our thumbs!  She does however, remember vividly our second meeting.   It was a “double date” with Beverly and Allan at a nearby restaurant.  Allan was driving his SUV  in pouring rain. I  was sitting in the back seat when we arrived at the house Francine was renting.  Francine came through the garage to minimize the amount of rain she would traverse and jumped in the backseat.  The car was dark and she really did not see me even then. 


As we drove to the restaurant we exchanged greetings and launched immediately into a bit of our lives and careers.  I told her that I was recently retired and looking to spend at least the winters in Arizona.  She asked who I had worked for and I told her Ashland Oil, Great Lakes Carbon, Horsehead and Quanex.  She said that she knew an Ashland Chemical executive who had served on a board with her late husband.  He was Anton (Tony) Dorfmueller, the Vice-President Ashland Chemical Foundry Products Division.  I told her that I had worked with Tony for most of my twenty years at Ashland.  This acknowledgement almost ended any relationship  with her before it even started.  Tony built and ran a great division of Ashland Chemical.  He took no prisoners and he was a mover and shaker in the U.S. Foundry Industry Association.


Francine’s husband, Timothy Hitchcock was the president and joint owner, with his mother and his brother, of an aluminum foundry company started by Timothy’s grandfather.  Timothy had added Tony and a metallurgy professor to his company’s board to bring in outside expertise.  When Timothy unexpectedly died, there was a significant problem with the management succession at the company.  Tony had sided with the brother, despite the general agreement that the brother was not capable of managing the company.  This pitted Timothy’s brother and Tony against Francine.  Understandably, Francine was not happy with Tony.  In the end Francine with the help of some of Timothy and her professional friends, negotiated the sale of her portion of the company’s ownership to Timothy’s brother (who did run the company into bankruptcy!). 


I explained to Francine that I was not an admirer of Tony, only that I happened to also run a couple of Ashland Chemical’s divisions and interfaced with Tony in that respect. Eventually, Francine accepted the fact that I was not Tony and we moved on.  Our dinner date went well and Francine agreed to a second date. 


Francine was still working full time for a large public relations firm, Mona, Meyer, McGrath and Gavin, which had recently been purchased by Shandwick, a British PR firm.  She worked out a deal with her employer whereby she could work remotely for three months – February through April and moved out of the Minnesota winter to the Scottsdale winter.  She had done something similar the prior year, but for only one month. 


Francine had been widowed some six years, had a married daughter, Heather,  son-in-law, Duane and two grandchildren, Ben who was five years old and Emily who was three years old, They resided  in the Twin Cities.  She also had a second daughter, Lindsey who was Korean, that Francine and Timothy had adopted.  This daughter, who was four years old when Francine and Timothy adopted her, was planning to join friends in Las Vegas, NV and to seek employment there.  Francine’s mother lived in Fort Lauderdale,  FL. Francine had a retired older sister, Joan who lived in The Villages, Florida with her husband, Bob. He was also retired.  Joan and Bob had four married children with families that lived in the southeast U.S.  Other than those few relatives, Francine had no other close relatives.


Francine and I had several dates as, I had decided that I liked her very much and although I did not know any of her family or friends at that time, I sensed that this very attractive lady was or would be pursued by any number of eligible men.  I really wanted to get  to know her better. 


Regardless, I needed to return to Lake Harmony and to catch up with both Cindie and Kim’s families.  So, another cross country trip and a quick visit with Kim on the way to Lake Harmony.  The following weekend I visited with Cindie and her family.  I then loaded the mini-van and headed west with my tools, some small items of furniture and great expectations of getting to know Francine better.  I returned to Scottsdale and stayed with Beverly and Allan with the expectation that I would do some minor repairs in my Scottsdale house and repaint the entire interior of the house.  Brother Bob and his partner, Merna had decided to visit Arizona and to stay with Beverly and Allan, at that time.  Allan, Beverly, Bob and Merna helped considerably with the painting and furnishing of the house.  I told both Cindie and Kim about Francine and they knew that I might be moving too quickly.  I learned later that Cindie had told Kim shortly after we lost Karen, that “dad would find another eligible woman”.


One afternoon while we were working away in my newly purchased house, Francine walked over to my house with a bottle of wine as a house warming gift.  She carefully placed it on the outdoor stoop and began walking away, however we saw her as she was leaving. After a little insisting, she agreed to stay a bit and to enjoy the wine.  Maybe we were getting somewhere!  Francine and I dated frequently and it seemed as if I was the only one she was seeing, at least in Arizona.  On Easter, Francine invited Beverly, Allan and me to join her and her close Minneapolis friend Gloria Mauer and Gloria’s daughter, Sybil and Sybil’s husband, Jeff for Easter dinner at the nearby Boulders Resort.  It was a delightful time.  Meeting Gloria, her daughter and son-in-law was a special treat.  Francine and I have had Easter dinner with the three of them every Easter since. As the years passed, Sybil and Jeff’s wonderful children  Lily and Will have been added to the attendees.  After dinner, Francine and I hiked Squaw Peak, a popular hiking park in north central Phoenix.  I convinced another hiker to take a picture of the two of us.  It is the first picture of the two of us.  I promptly sent the picture  to Cindie and Kim.  Shortly, thereafter the house was repainted, repaired and furnished.  I was living in my Terravita home. By then, Francine’s three months in Arizona was over and she returned to her home in Minnesota.  I drove back to Lake Harmony with thoughts as to how I would keep the relationship with Francine continuing. 


Fran and Me, April 20, 2003


Upon returning to Minneapolis, Francine met Kim who was in the Twin Cities for a Creative Memories meeting.  Apparently, Kim understood more about Francine and my relationship than Francine did.  Kim thought that we were more of an item than Francine did.  I planned to change that.


In April, Adam who was a terrific soccer player was one of the league championship soccer team’s best players in winning the league championship. 

Adam, fifth from the left in the back Brad, a Cool High School Graduate



In late May Bradley graduated from high  school.  Cindie who was becoming a great photographer, captured many good pictures of Brad and his friends in the Westford town square. I attended the outdoor commencement ceremony with Cindie and Brian.  The ceremony started on time and proceeded according to plan, although half-way through the awarding of diplomas the sky opened up and the rain came down in torrents.   Regardless, every diploma was presented, graduates marched as a group from the commencement and then everyone ran for cover.  Fortunately, the temperature was moderate and despite the rain, every-thing ended up wonderfully.   Brad had applied and been accepted at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA.  He planned to major in biology.

Aunt Ruby  Uncle Eddie



On May 3rd, Jill Aiken and Danny Pickering were married in Mt. Vernon, WA with a rehearsal gathering for dinner the previous night at Max Dale’s, which was owned by Danny’s parents.  We attended Jill’s wedding and the reception at the Saint Joseph Center the following day.  Aunt Ruby and Uncle Eddie also attended.  After the wedding Neal and Nancy invited we siblings to go for a wonderful ride on their boat to see the San Juan Islands, which also included a visit to the Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, Canada.


Jill and Danny, Top. Below Butchart Gardens


Francine’s mother, a widow living alone in a high-rise in Fort Lauderdale, FL was aging to the point that Francine and her sister were concerned about her.  Joan suggested that her mother purchase a small home in The Villages, near Joan and Bob, to which her mother reluctantly agreed.  Francine scheduled a trip to Ft. Lauderdale to help her mother prepare for the move.  I called Francine and suggested that I meet her in Ft. Lauderdale to help her with the chore.  She was reluctant and initially turned me down, however after discussing the offer with some of her very close Minnesota friends, who convinced her that rejecting my offer to help was ill advised, Francine relented and agreed to my help.  She however, as a proper woman, conditioned it on my renting a separate hotel room!


We spent several days sorting through her mother’s belongs and determining what to move.  My assignment was to keep her mother occupied while Francine determined what should be moved.  Francine would relieve me and I would take the items which were not to be moved to her new home, down to the ground floor to arrange their transport to a charity.  However, the housekeeping staff in the building saw what we were doing and claimed everything up as soon as I brought it down to ground floor.  This double teaming Francine’s mother was successful and Fran soon had her mother prepared for her move. 


Francine and I returned to our respective homes.  I spent time at Cindie’s and attended my good HBS friend, Bill Chorske and his wife, Gail’s 40the wedding anniversary in Woodstock, NH.  Our good friends Harry and Marlene Skilton also attended this wonderful celebration. Cindie’s and I gathered at Kim and David’s to celebrate July Fourth.


I then prepared for our up-coming Davis Family reunion at Black Canyon Resort also near Estes Park, CO.  Francine continued her work at Shandwick and  returned to Florida  to help her mother move into her new home.  Francine and I kept in touch by phone.  Nearly all of my family  attended the 2003 Davis Family Summer Reunion.  The venue was more modern and a bit nicer than Glacier Lodge, although there was no large gathering room.  Upon brother Bob’s suggestion, the owner had a tent erected between two of the units we had rented which, fortunately because of beautiful weather served us quite well for our meals and family gatherings.



Fran and Her Mother, Margaret We Six Siblings and Velda at Black Canyon Resort


While Francine was  helping her mother move, a thunder storm caused an electrical power outage in the Villages one evening.  When Francine and her mother returned from dinner, Francine opened and closed the garage door manually.  When closing the door, she inadvertently had her fingers in one of the overhead door joints which pinched her fingers as the door closed.  She had some severely bruised fingers which were  bothering her considerably.  Her fingers bothered her for the next several days but fortunately she did not lose her fingernails as a result of the severe pinching.


At Black Canyon Resort on the following evening, Adam, Cindie and Brian’s youngest son was playing near their cabin.  He and others his age were jumping  from a low, possibly 3 feet high, wall to grab ahold of the bottom of an I-beam supporting the balcony above.  They then did chin-ups to the I-beam.  Unfortunately, Adam was not able to keep a hold on the I-beam and  fell some 8 feet onto a concrete pad, striking his head very hard.  He did not lose consciousness but did bleed modestly from his right ear.  We called 911 and rushed him to the small Estes Park hospital/emergency room, where he was examined.  The medical staff there recommended that he be immediately transferred to the Denver Children’s Hospital.  He was air flighted there.  Brian and Cindie drove to Denver, some 70  miles away in pursuit of the helicopter.  I also drove separately to the hospital.  Fortunately, Adam had only a mild concussion, however he was hospitalized several days, including three days after the rest of our group checked out of the Black Canyon Resort and returned home.  Dick and Judy, took Andy and Kevin to their home in Glenwood, IA. Andy and Kevin really enjoyed their brief stay with Dick and Judy.   They learned to shoot both long and hand guns which Dick owned.  Fortunately, Adam had no lasting affects from the concussion, although his parents forbid him to do any soccer head shots for the next several months .  However, on a few occasions, his soccer reactions took over and he forgot about this admonition.  Fortunately, he did not further damage his concussion.


Brad was awarded his Boy Scout Eagle Scout rank at a ceremony after his high school commencement.  By this time all four of Cindie and Brian’s four sons were in scouting.  Brian who is an Eagle Scout was an assistant scout leader for several years.  Over the succeeding years all four of the boys earned the Eagle Scout rank.  Brian did a Scouting trip with each of his sons as they neared the end of their scouting work.  Three of the trips were  a two week hiking trip in New Mexico at a Boy Scout Ranch, named Philmont.   He took Andy on an ocean trip adventure in Florida.


Brad and Family at His Eagle Scout Ceremony Our Lake Harmony, PA Home



Cindie purchased a Great Dane puppy ostensibly for Andy, however from day one it was clear that Penny was Cindie’s dog.  Cindie and Penny were inseparable.  A few years later, Brian commissioned a bronze statue of Penny in a sitting pose which was some four feet tall.  The statue was proudly placed at the entry of Brian’s Countryside Animal Hospital.  When Brian sold his business, he retained ownership of this beautiful statue and proudly displays it in the entrance of his Lincoln, NH ski home.


Brian and Cindie’s Pool and Landscaping Cindie and Kim Walking Penny




I visited Francine in Minneapolis early in September and met Heather and her family at Fran’s favorite restaurant. Heather came prepared with a list of twenty questions for me as she was qualifying me for a relationship with her mother.  I found out later that I passed!  Francine’s grandson, Ben, asked if he  could ask me a question.  The question: “Why do you love my Granny Franny?” My response, “For the same reasons you do.”,  must have been acceptable  as the conversation moved on.  Francine and I helped her grandson, Ben celebrate his fifth birthday.  In October, Francine and I spent four days in NYC.  I drove to Manhattan from Lake Harmony and Fran flew in from Minneapolis.  On that Saturday Francine and I drove to Hartford, CT where we met Cindie and family for lunch.  They drove from Westford, by way of a soccer game in which Adam played.  He proudly wore his soccer shirt to lunch.  He was eleven years old.  Cindie did not have twenty questions for Francine, but they hit it off reasonably well considering that it had been only a  bit over a year since we had lost Karen.  Francine and I traveled to Florida to visit her mother in early November.  Her mother had settled into her new home relatively nicely. I met Francine’s sister and brother-in-law.   


I spent Thanksgiving with Kim’s in Hudson, OH.  Cindie and Brian had moved into a new beautiful new house in Westford, only a mile from their previous home.  Brian had done a wonderful job adding a swimming pool and landscaping the entire lot.  They hosted Kim’s and me for Christmas, while Francine spent Christmas with her daughter Heather and family, in Minneapolis.  After Christmas,  Cindie and I traveled to California to visit my sister-in-law, Lee Swanson in her new home and Lynn and David.  We took Lee one of the American Shorthair kittens that Cindie and Brian were breeding and selling.  Brian and Cindie were also active in showing their American Shorthair cats in competition.  Brian has been a contributing veterinarian to the American Feline Association his entire career.  I was spending very little time at my home in Lake Harmony.


In retrospect, 2003 was a very eventful year.  As I thought back about all of my 2003 experiences, I realized how much my life had changed.  There is no question that my meeting Francine was the most significant single event of 2003 and in fact the single most impactful event since our loss of Karen after 46 years of her and my marriage.  My one regret as I reflected on 2003 is that I was totally distanced from any leadership efforts, although I was still on the board of WPU (until 2006), however, as past chair of the board and with a new university president, I was less involved than previously.  I had no other business or philanthropic involvement. As I write this autobiography now some almost 20 years later, this new beginning in 2003 has resulted in some of the most rewarding and beneficial years of my and our family’s life.  However, there are too many seriously devastating, heartbreaking and life altering events yet to chronical. 


Francine planned to spend three months in Arizona in 2004 just as she had in 2003.  She rented a house in Eagle Glenn a gated Scottsdale community immediately south of Pinnacle Peak, a prominent landmark in northern Scottsdale.  She again shipped her car and personal belongings to Scottsdale. My son-in-law David, had tickets to the Superbowl in Houston, TX between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers.  He invited me to join him in Houston for the game, my first of five Super Bowls which I have attended.  Four of these Super Bowls were to watch the Patriots play.  Cindie’s family followed and supported the Patriots very strongly.  Additionally, The Patriots were owned by one of my HBS section-mates, Bob Kraft.  The Patriots won the 2004 Super Bowl.


Francine and I kept in touch with frequent phone calls, including after the Super Bowl game which was also the night she settled in at her new rental house in Scottsdale.  I returned to Lake Harmony, packed my car with what I would need in Arizona the next several months, including my income tax files, as  I did not yet have all of my necessary information for my 2003 tax preparation.  Don and Pat Todd who would be watching my house and also picking up my mail at the Lake Harmony post office would forward my mail to me in Scottsdale weekly. 


I began preparing my own federal and state income tax filings with my first year of being required to pay income tax, sometime in my late teens and prepared my taxes every year since.  The only exception, as I mentioned when working for Quanex, the Quanex auditors prepared our taxes, however, I had to correct the initial filing that they prepared for me as it was  incorrect. The balance of the years they prepared them correctly.  Beginning about 2000 I began purchasing a tax preparation software which helps considerably with this annual job.  As of the writing of 2023, I have never been subject to an in person audit although I have had a couple of years  where the IRS has questioned my return.  Only once was I subject to a penalty and interest when I inadvertently overlooked a second Form 1099 from Vanguard where I do most of my investing. For some reason that year Vanguard sent two Form 1099s for the same accounts each one having only part of the information. 


I arrived in Arizona on February 4th and moved into my Terravita house for the winter. Francine and I had dinner that evening and compared  calendars for the next three months.  She was enjoying her rental house, except for learning that the house was infested with roof rats, basically large rats about the size we saw in the grain bins on the farm when I was growing up.  These rats would find their way into the space between the ceilings in the house and the roof above and establish house-keeping.  The house Francine was renting was seldomly occupied  the past few years and the rats had settled in.  Francine could hear them racing around above the ceiling, particularly at night.  The house owner hired a pest control firm to treat the rat infested space with rodenticide which ridded the area of the pests and fortunately did not result in much of a stench noticeable in the house.  During this time, Francine went to Las Vegas to visit her daughter, Lindsey for three days.  


I picked my brother Bob up at the Phoenix airport and drove the next day to Palm Springs where Beverly and Allan had a two week time share unit.  Beverly, Allan, Bob and I had a nice three days in Palm Springs, which was my first visit there.  Bob and  I returned from Palm Springs. Bob stayed with his son Kraig and family in Phoenix.  His good friend Merna joined him there.  I returned to my Scottsdale house and began to settle in.  Francine had already hosted several house visitors by then.  Francine and I reconnected for dinner and movies.  She told me about her experience with the roof rats and one day when visiting her, she said that the pest control company had placed a rat trap cage near the access panel from the bedroom closet into the attic space and that she had heard rats above the ceiling again.  I checked the trap and found one dead rat, which I removed from the trap and disposed for her.  Fortunately, that was the last time she heard the rats in that house, however, she vowed never to rent that house again.


Dave attended the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program this Spring.


Francine told me that she was going with a realtor the following day to look at possible rental houses for the following year.  She asked if I wanted to go along.   I said “sure” and we  saw a number of rentals but also at Francine’s suggestion we looked at some houses   for sale, as she was considering retiring and moving to Scottsdale.   She had told me about her thoughts earlier, mentioning that she was thinking of retiring to either Scottsdale or Santa Barbara, CA.  I told her, half-jokingly that I would only consider Arizona and not California.- because of the California crowds, taxes and regulations!  


My 17th home and 11th owned home -


We visited a number of rental and purchase possibilities.  The last stop on the schedule was to look at two houses in a development named Estancia, located immediately north of Pinnacle Peak. The realtor arranged with the listing broker for us to tour two units there.  The two units were nice, however neither  had the view that we wanted.  I asked the listing broker for the two units if there were any lots for sale in Estancia  which had great views.  He replied “I have one which you might be interested in”.  We took a look.  The lot had an outstanding view of Pinnacle Peak, the Phoenix Valley, cities to the south and west of Pinnacle Peak and two of the Estancia golf course fairways.  The development was far enough along that we knew there would never be any obstructing construction to diminish these views.  I was interested.  The lot had just been listed as the owner who told the listing agent that he was either selling the lot or building a custom house to sell.


Francine and I met the next morning for coffee as she was about to return to Minneapolis for the year.  I suggested to her that we purchase an option on the lot which would give us time to engage an architect to see if we could build a house on the lot that we would like.  After explaining to Francine what I had in mind, i.e., that we offer the owner of the lot $10,000 for a three month option on the exclusive purchase of the lot at full asking price ($590,000) while we worked with an architect to design the possible house we would like, in compliance with Scottsdale and the Estancia HOA zoning and other restrictions.  If we could get the house we wanted, we would purchase the lot with the $10,000 option payment being applied to the purchase price.  If we did not purchase the house, the lot owner would keep our $10,000.  Francine liked the idea and agreed to join me in this offer.


At this time in Francine and my relationship, we had not even talked about making it permanent.  Moreover, she had no real interest in building another house.  She had done that and did not think that she needed to do that again.  Basically, this was my way of getting her to commit to a permanent relationship. And, it worked!  We made the offer as the broker thought that the lot owner might go for it. And the owner did.  Francine and I were referred to an architect and builder with whom the listing broker had a relationship.  We met with both at a house in Desert Mountain that the architect had designed and the builder was just finishing.  We were satisfied with both gentlemen and agreed to have the architect go to work on our possible house.  We described what we wanted – a Tuscan design, maximized views to the south and to the west, an open interior design and nice but not extravagant finishings.  We signed the necessary agreements and Francine returned to Minneapolis.  


I sketched a floor plan for the main floor of the house that I envisioned and sent it to Francine and to the architect.  Fran liked the suggested floor plan and the architect used it as the starting point.  The architect added a number of nice features, including an enclosed courtyard, water feature, firepit and landscaping, with an arch covered gate into the courtyard and staircase to the formal entrance to the house.  Once I saw what he had proposed, I suggested that he add a large arch over the driveway entrance to the garage/parking area.  Our entrance is relatively unique to the 250 residences within our Estancia community. 


Francine and I had several conference calls  with the architect, who worked  with the Estancia HOA to design a house which complied  with Estancia’s requirements.  The architect worked well with us and designed what we wanted and not something he wanted.  Residential and commercial construction was very busy at this time. The architect was busy, the contractors were busy, the zoning and HOA officials were busy, so the design and planning phase of our house was not progressing as fast as we would have liked. In late May, prior to the expiration of the three month purchase option, Fran and I returned to Scottsdale to meet with the architect.  We met him at the property.  He had the preliminary drawings, a step ladder, a bottle of wine and a plate of cheese and crackers.   He placed the step ladder at a near high point of the lot which was at about the planned location of the kitchen and asked Francine to climb to the third step.  He told us that he guaranteed to get the main level of the house at that elevation although he hoped to get it two feet higher.  Regardless, the elevation  that he assured we would have, easily provided wonderful views of  the Phoenix Valley some 25 miles south and the north Phoenix Valley to the west some 25 miles.  Almost as importantly,  we would have  Pinnacle Peak in all its glory south south-west of the house fully visible from anywhere in the front of the house. And   on a clear night we would see the radio tower lights some 45 miles distant on South Mountain.  We were satisfied with the conceptual drawings, the guaranteed elevations and views.  Importantly, there could not be any future construction in Estancia which would infringe on our views.  The architect was able to increase the elevation of the house by one foot, enhancing the views modestly over what we had seen from that step ladder.


We closed on the purchase of the lot and negotiated an agreement with the builder for the construction of the house.  In as much as the builder did not have final drawings, we worked on a time and material  basis with guarantees as to certain maximum amounts.  Fran and I worked closely with the architect as he prepared final drawings to submit to the City of Scottsdale and the Estancia HOA.  This took some six months.  We advised the builder and the architect that we weren’t in a rush and that if certain materials prices were escalating too rapidly that we would support pre-purchasing those items.  Because of the amount of construction in the Phoenix Valley, the approvals from the City of Scottsdale took several months.  We broke ground in June 2005.  The house required some 2000 tons of stone for the entire project  which the builder purchased prior to breaking ground as the strong construction business, particularly residential construction, was putting a strain on both availability and prices for labor and materials.. The builder was offered this stone at a reduced price as another builder had suddenly cancelled an order.  Our builder stored the stone on his construction lot awaiting its need on our job site.


In early June, Dave, Kim, Kyle, Brett and I flew to Shanghai, China for an International Harvard Business School conference.  Prior to the conference we took a ten day tour of China, including a number of fantastic stops in Beijing to visit Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, a number of other temples and prominent sites.  The Chinese security/military  personnel were omnipresent in Tiananmen Square, where in 1989 there was a very large protest against the Chinese Communist Party which was quelled by the Chinese military.  Some 200 civilian protesters were killed by the military.  Other than at Tiananmen Square we did not see many Chinese security/military  personnel on the entire visit.

Tiananmen Square The Great Wall



The excursion to the Great Wall was truly eye opening.  It is an unbelievable accomplishment which began in 220 BC and continued intermittently until about 1600 AD. It is some 3700 miles long and was built by some 300,000 soldiers and 500,000 laborers, of which some 400,000 died during construction.  It was built to protect the mainland China from northern, nomadic invaders.


Next we went to Xi’an, Shaanxi Province to visit the Kiacheng Classics a total of 114 engraved stone tablets (as shown below) with important historic writings  of Chinese culture. Originally these writings were carved in wood.  However, many of them were destroyed by fire and vandalism.  Consequently, the emperor at that time decreed that these writings be preserved by carving the writings into stone tablets/slabs.  


The Great Terracotta Warriors site is near by the Kiacheng Classics museum.  This find is almost unbelievable.  China’s first emperor built a 20 square mile tomb and army complex and had it guarded by these Warriors, some 8000 in total along with 130 chariots and 670 horses.  The army took 40 years and some 700,000 laborers to construct the complex.  Every Warrior is unique and realistic.  The complex was undiscovered for over 2000 years until it was discovered by Chinese farmers in 1974.  The Chinese government is carefully excavating the entire site, but had not opened the Emperor’s tomb.


A Stone Slab With Important Chinese Writings Terracotta Warriors Being Restored




One of Three Fields of Warriors


We also toured Shanghai,  prior to the four day HBS International Conference.  Francine flew to Shanghai to join us for the conference.  Dave and I thoroughly enjoyed the HBS conference, which included considerable emphasis on China and its future.   Kyle and Bret purchased authentic Chinese swords and were fitted for dress suits while in Shanghai.  I purchased a set of golf clubs, complete with a carry bag.  Fortunately, the swords fit neatly into my golf club bag, with the clubs, which I checked as part of my luggage.  Hence we had no shipping costs for the swords.  Dave and Kim purchased a full size Terracotta Warrior and had it shipped to Hudson, OH.  The China trip was great and we all enjoyed it very much.


From Shanghai we traveled to Tokyo to spend five days visiting Japan.  Both Fran and I had been to Japan previously, but it was Kim, Dave and  their sons first trip to Japan.  Both Kyle and Brett were into martial arts and Brett was particularly interested in both the Chinese and Japanese cultures.  Tokyo is a very modern city but very crowded with extremely heavy auto  traffic. The highlight of the Japan trip was a visit to Kyoto an ancient capital of Japan. We rode the bullet train to Kyoto and back. The train ride is a fascinating experience.  Kyoto is a charming city with many outstanding old temples.  We spent a full very hot day touring Kyoto but enjoyed every minute of it.


Francine, Brett, Jim, Dave, Kyle and Kim in Kyoto


After returning to the states, I traveled to Boston to visit Cindie and her family.  While we were there we reconnected with my friend Dan Brenden, from my HRD days and more recently from our visits in Phoenix to where  Dan  had also relocated.  Dan and a very neat lady,  Hughette were a couple.  Dan was an endurance runner and was  to run the Woodstock, Vermont  100 mile run in mid-July.  Cindie and I drove to Woodstock for a few days to catch up with both Dan & Hughette  and with Bill & Gail Chorske.  We joined Hughette at several intermediate  rest/refreshment stops  of the race when Dan reached them. Cindie ran the last 20 miles of the race with Dan who appreciated  the  company.   Dan  was known   throughout  the  endurance  racing  community for picking Hughette up some 100 yards short of the finish line and carrying her across the finish line.  Hughette probably weighed 90 pounds.  We also had a lovely visit with the Chorskes while Dan was doing his run.  Francine was busy finding a rental place in Scottsdale for us, which turned out to be a wonderful house in Desert Mountain.  It was close to our architect and builder’s offices.


Dan Brenden, Finishing a 100 Mile Run, Carrying Hughette


There  was no Davis Family Reunion in 2004, so I spent the year visiting Fran and family.  Fran and I visited San Francisco, one of our favorite cities at the time, however no more.  We spent four very nice July days  walking the sites, cruising the harbor and attending the play Madam Butterfly. We were a bit surprised and very disappointed at the homelessness and the aggressiveness of those sleeping on the streets,  the trash and garbage in public places and the general disrepair of many buildings.  It is not a city we will return to without a very strong reason to do so.  


Fran hosted a birthday party to celebrate my 69th birthday in Minneapolis.    I was pleased with the number of my family who traveled some distance to help me celebrate.  It was one of my best birthdays ever.  Those who attended were Cindie, Kim, brothers Bob and Dick, sister Beverly and all or most of their families.  Fran also hosted a dinner which included all of these close relatives and a number of Fran’s close Minneapolis friends who I had become acquainted with and continue to associate with today.  Just one more instance of frequent gatherings of our extended Davis family. 

L to R, F to B:  Velda Dunn, Denise, Kolin, Jim, Francine, Beverly, Bradley, Cindie, Ashley, Kindra, Keith, Zach, Bob, Dave, Brett, Allan, Kim, Dick, Judy, Kyle, Andy, Brian, Kevin, Barry and Amber


Labor day weekend, Cindie’s and Kim’s came to Lake Harmony to help me empty out my house.  I planned to keep virtually nothing in the way of furniture, except a few pieces that Karen’s father had made.  I told Cindie and Kim that they could have anything that they wanted from the house.  Each of them drove SUVs to Lake Harmony and rented trucks in Lake Harmony to haul whatever they and their sons wanted to move to their homes.  We spent the long weekend loading the items that they were taking in their rented trucks and SUVs, cleaning the house for one last time and basically saying good bye to our home of some ten years.  The real estate market in eastern Pennsylvania was  slow however, I was not waiting to sell the house prior to moving to Minnesota.


I loaded my Lincoln sedan with my prized eagle on the passenger seat and with cartons of my financial records, other personal items and most of my clothing in the back seat and trunk.  I packed four or five large plastic totes with other personal items that I wanted to keep and loaded those along with those few pieces of family furniture that I wanted to keep on Kim’s truck.  She had agreed to move those items to Hudson and store them for me until I had a more permanent place.  I invited Don and Pat Todd to help themselves to anything left in the house, as I was selling the house “as is, where is”.  We celebrated Sunday night before Labor Day as the last night in the house.  I spent Labor Day doing laundry, a final cleaning and saying goodbye to a wonderful house which our extended family had enjoyed so much.  Tuesday morning, I began the drive to Minneapolis by way of an overnight stop at Kim’s.  I arrived a Francine’s Minneapolis townhouse the next evening.  She came out to the car to welcome me and saw the eagle strapped into the front passenger seat with the seat belt and said “My God The Eagle Has Landed!”.   Fran had cleared her things out of a downstairs spare room which I set up as my office. 


After  I settled in at Francine’s, she and I took a  quick trip to Arizona and Nevada to review progress on our Scottsdale house with our architect and builder and secondarily to drive to Las Vegas to meet with Francine’s daughter Lindsey.   Progress was slow on the design and planning for the construction of our house. Our drive from Scottsdale to Las Vegas took us over Hoover Dam, which I had never seen.  We spent several hours touring the dam and spending time in the visitors center.  We continued our drive to Las Vegas and I met Lindsey for the first time.


We returned to Minneapolis and prepared for a three week driving trip from Minneapolis to New England to visit friends of Francine’s in Indiana, Kim’s in Hudson, Cindie’s at their ski condo in Lincoln, NH, and Chorskes in Vermont as well as stops at Niagara Falls and  New York City in addition to viewing the colorful New England leaves.  This was Francine’s first visit to Niagara Falls. Since Francine hadn’t been to Niagara Falls we planned to spend three days at the Falls and in Niagara-on-the-Lake a wonderful resort community a bit north of the falls on the Canadian side of the border.  It is located on Lake Erie and among other things has wonderful gardens and vineyards.

The United States Niagara Falls From Canada Francine in Niagara-on-the-Lake




From Niagara Falls we drove across New York and Vermont to Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, where we stayed at the famous Washington Resort.  It was a very beautiful drive as the trees were in full color. We arrived late in the afternoon and were taken to our room.  Francine had reserved a suite, which  are very nice rooms but are on the sixth (top) floor in one of the four corner towers of the building.  The somewhat ancient elevator went no further than the fifth floor and to access the tower suite meant lugging the suitcases up the final floor accessed only by stairs.  We settled into the room, dressed for dinner and toured the hotel.  When we returned to our room and began to settle down for the night we heard loud buzzing from large house flies trapped inside the room. They were crashing into the window trying to get out.  When we asked room service for help, their response was yes that this time of the year the flies come in from the outside.  Fran persisted with  room service to do something.  Room service came through with a flyswatter!  We finally prevailed on room service to provide us some fly catching sticky paper which after a while had trapped most of the flies and the room quieted.


About two A.M. the very loud fire alarm went off throughout the hotel.  It was particularly loud in our room.  We could not reach the operator and we knew that we had no fire escape from our room.  We quickly put on our robes, grabbed Fran’s valuables and my wallet and headed down the stairs.  As we were descending the stairs we noticed that most of the other guests had taken time to get at least somewhat dressed.  I believe that Fran and I were the only ones in our robes!  Of course, it was a false alarm, but the management had not discovered that until nearly everyone was milling around on the main level.  We finally returned to our rooms and we did get some sleep.  That weekend, Cindie, Brian, Brad, Andy and Adam (Kevin was in Germany as an exchange student) drove from their ski condo in Lincoln, NH to have lunch with us at the Washington Resort. After two days hiking and driving around the Bretton Woods area* we drove to Woodstock, VT and visited Gail and Bill Chorske in their wonderful home with very scenic views of the colorful leaves stretching out through the valley visible from their house. We then visited with Cindie and  family at their ski condo in Lincoln, NH, before driving to NYC for a couple of days and then back to Minneapolis.  My Lake Harmony house had not sold, so we stopped there so Francine could see that house.


George Bush was re-elected in 2004, as the country thought that he had performed well particularly  in response to the September 11, 2001 attack.  He received a plurality of votes 50.7% and won in the electoral college by 36 votes.  He defeated Senator John Kerry.



*Bretton Woods was the location of the famous conference of representatives from 44 nations for three weeks in July, 1944 which helped create the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Cindie and Brian’s Ski Condo The Montage Resort




Francine and I traveled to and stayed in The Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, CA to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It was a wonderful venue and we enjoyed perfect weather.   We enjoyed dinner with Lynn, Lee and David Fite.  It was the first time that Francine met Lynn.  We took a side trip to Simi Valley  to visit President Ronald Reagan’s Library. Francine and I had the opportunity to visit Camp Pendleton some forty-seven years after I was released from active duty.  We returned to Minneapolis where Francine stayed for Christmas with her family and I flew to Boston to celebrate Christmas with Cindies and Kim’s.  On December 28th, Francine flew to Boston where I met her in the airport.  Shortly thereafter we boarded a plane for Prague, Austria.


President Ronald Reagan’s Library USMC Camp Pendleton




The year 2004 passed quickly with all of our travels, the purchase of a building lot in Estancia, the designing of our new house and making many new (to me) friends of Fran’s and moving to Arizona.  My retirement continued to be very, very busy, however my only other involvement was the continued service on the William Penn University Board of Trustees.  I was past chair of the Board and not that deeply involved as my travels made it difficult for me to be heavily involved in the Board’s activity.  I missed my corporate leadership roles, the challenges of accomplishing business successes and the interchange with other corporate executives.  However, I was too busy to give attention to addressing these needs at this time.  Addressing these needs would have to wait.


We arrived in Prague on December 29th.  We were staying at the Four Seasons Hotel which was wonderful as the staff was particularly well trained and the meals were great.  The New Year’s Eve dinner was special.  Francine and I really loved walking around Prague, as it was our first visit to this great old city.  The city itself was very clean, quaint and friendly.  The food was superb and the shopping wonderfully easy.  There were many other New Year’s Eve visitors, mainly Europeans, walking the festive streets of Prague that weekend.   We had a one day tour of a very old Austrian city with a huge castle, which we toured.  The castle was not heated consequently, we did not spend much time in it.  We returned to Minneapolis and prepared to transition to Scottsdale for the winter of 2005. 

On The Charles Bridge Over The Vltava River In Prague



The Desert Mountain house that Francine had arranged for us to rent was nice and comfortable with a great view of the Phoenix Valley.  We settled in quickly and reconnected with our architect and builder.  The architect was nearly finished the detailed drawings and was working through the City of Scottsdale and Estancia HOA final approvals.  He had commissioned the construction of a model of the house which was required by the Estancia HOA.  However, the City of Scottsdale approval was taking a long time as construction activity was very strong.  We drove to Las Vegas a couple of times to visit Francine’s daughter Lindsey in her new house.  She had taken a lady border to help with her house expenses.  Fran and Beverly planned a dinner party in Lon’s wine cellar dining room of the Paradise Valley, AZ Hermosa Inn. That and a subsequent dining experience on our upcoming trip to Italy convinced Francine and me to use an as of yet undesignated room in the lower level of our new house as a wine cellar and a wine dining room.    Cindie and Kim visited us in February for several days.  We showed them the lot and the plans for our new house.  Cindie and I also went to the Arabian Horse Show, while Kim and Francine shopped.


Cindie, Kim At Our Home Site At Our Desert Mountain Rental




We contacted the realtor who had found us the Estancia lot to determine if there were any rental opportunities in Estancia beginning  January 2006.   Several weeks later he called us back with a possible rental, but merely referred us to owners.  It was a perfect location in Estancia only minutes to our job site.  We agreed on the lease and had a place to live in 2006 while our house was being built, as Francine had decided to sell her Minneapolis townhouse and become an Arizona resident, of which I was already.  In the meantime, I listed and sold my Terravita house.  Fortunately, the residential market was stronger in 2005 than three years previously when I purchased it.  It sold quickly at an attractive price for me, resulting in some ready cash which would come in handy in paying the architect and prepaying for some of the builder’s advance purchases.  The builder also referred us to an interior designer with whom he and the architect had worked who began working with us on the interior designs.  She worked well with the architect and us in making the numerous decisions for our house.  One of our first choices was the granite for the kitchen and bar counter tops.  The granite choices were more limited at that time as the strong construction market taxed the granite supplies, mainly sourced in Italy.


The Estancia HOA required the architect to have a model of the house constructed based on the plans that we were  submitting to the HOA for its approval.  The model was finished in early April so Francine decided to host a party for our local friends and relatives, to unveil the model of the house prior to our upcoming three week trip to Italy.. 

The Model Of Our House To Be Francine and Me Admiring Our House Model



Our trip to Italy, particularly Tuscany -


We arrived in Italy in mid-April, spent several days in Rome touring the usual highlights, including a long visit to the Vatican.  It was an exciting time as Pope Benedict XVI was elected on April 19th while we were in Rome.  After Rome we traveled to Sigaluna which became our base for the next ten days as we toured the central part of Italy, namely Florence, Tuscany and the Italian wine country.  We had a driver/tour guide for the entire trip outside Rome.   Our hotel in Sigaluna was a delightful converted winery estate with some 50 rooms surrounded by vineyards.  The meals there were superb.   We finished the trip with another two days in Rome. The highlights of the trip were The Vatican, particularly the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Basilica of St. Paul, the Forum and the Spanish Steps, all in Rome and in Florence the art galleries with the statue of David being the biggest thrill. Outside of Florence it was a visit to the leaning tower of Pisa.  It was a wonderful trip to a country in which neither Fran nor I had spent much time.  We also picked up a number of ideas for our new house for as we were breaking ground soon.

The Colosseum (above)

 The Trevi Fountain (below)


Francine and I returned to Minneapolis and then traveled to Boston for Andrew’s high school graduation.  Cindie hosted a party in Andrew’s honor which many of his friends attended.  Kim’s were there for the festivities.  David and Brian were doing much of the cooking wearing their new aprons Francine and I purchased in Florence with the picture of the statue of David in full display.  Andrew also enrolled in University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where Brad was attending.  Andrew was planning to major in business.

Andrew & Brian - Looking For A Signature on Andrew's Diploma Our Versions of David



In June we traveled to The Villages in Florida to visit Francine’s mother and to help her celebrate her 90th birthday.  She had a delightful time at the celebration with her friends in the retirement home and with Fran’s sister and brother-in-law, Bob.  We also were able to spend some time with  Francine’s sister, Joan and brother-in-law, Bob which enabled me to know them better.

Francine’s Mother Margaret Murphy Mom, Francine and Fran’s Sister Joan



On June 29, 2005 Francine and I celebrated the ground breaking for our Estancia house, with the builder, some of his employees and the architect.  We finally had the approvals from the city of Scottsdale and from the Estancia HOA.  The house would soon be underway.   Francine and I were staying at the nearby Four Seasons and immediately outside our room window was a Teddy Bear Cholla Cactus in which a cactus wren had built a nest.  It is amazing how these small birds can navigate withing the cactus needles to construct such a dwelling.

Our House Ground Breaking A Cactus Wren’s Nest




After our ground breaking we traveled to Gunnison, CO for our Davis Family Reunion.  This was our first stay at the Three Rivers Resort, Almont, CO  which was about ten miles upstream from Gunnison and located on the Taylor River a tributary of the Gunnison River.  The Black Canyon formed by the Gunnison River immediately downstream from Gunnison is one of the steepest, narrowest and darkest canyons in the U.S. The river has the most average drop of any canyon river in the U.S.  The resort included a number of one, two and three bedroom cabins which were fairly modern with most of the conveniences one would expect in a western U.S. resort.  


Our reunion was held in the middle of July and was well attended and included Velda for her last Davis Family Reunion.  Velda was in failing health and was afflicted with early dementia.  Bob generously invited her to come and she rode with him from Iowa to Gunnison.  The highlight of this reunion was the rafting on the Taylor river in pontoon rafts.  We had both large rafts holding  persons and individual rafts which the teenagers really enjoyed.  The water was somewhat rough but not deep nor were there any significant water falls with which to be concerned.  The section of the river for rafting was fairly close to the resort.  We also had some great mountain hiking in relatively easy terrain.  There  was a large family room to which we had exclusive access for meals and gathering for games, talking and family discussions.  It was a good reunion but we felt that there were more accommodative places to gather so our niece Kyla began a hunt for the location of our 2007 reunion.  Most of us did driving tours of the magnificent Black Canyon.  The roads along the south rim included may stops with great viewing of the canyon and the scenery surrounding the canyon.  The canyon was so deep and narrow that we seldom could see the river below.


Individual Rafts Were A Hit Our Older Generations Opted For These Rafts



 Francine hosted another birthday party for me in Minneapolis to celebrate my 70th birthday.  Cindie’s, Kim’s and the four Wannacotts - Kim and David’s good friends from Southlake, TX who were then living in Minneapolis were all in attendance.  Francine being the “hostess with the mostest” did it up right complete with a cake with my picture in the frosting.  She also arranged for a family golf outing with my sons-in-law and five of my grandsons.  It was a wonderful birthday celebration.

A Wonderful 70th Birthday My Family Gathers To Celebrate




Francine and I spent several weeks in her Minneapolis home which she decided that she would sell as we did not envision spending much time in Minnesota after moving to Arizona.  Concurrently, my Lake Harmony house also sold although at a discounted price.  I did not want to have responsibility for it through another winter. 


During our time in Colorado and Minnesota, our building lot in Estancia was prepared for construction with five very large saguaros relocated out of the building envelope to the periphery of the envelope.  Also, a number of smaller cactus, trees  and other native plants were moved out of the building envelope.   The lot was then scalped, the elevations surveyed and the footings plotted. We followed the progress by phone  until we returned to Arizona in the middle of September.  We had many decisions to make about the choices of things such as floor tile, appliances, cabinetry, lighting, plumbing fixtures, et. al.  We were satisfied with the construction progress to date.

The First We Saw Of Our House One Of The Large Saguaros That Were Moved



Our Estancia building lot was located on the eastern boundary of the Estancia development bordering on a residential development named Privada, which was being developed by the Four Seasons.  At the time there were no houses in Privada immediately east of our lot. In September, Estancia had two 100 year rains which was fortunate for us as the architect and hydraulic engineers had under estimated the amount of water run off our lot would receive from the small mountains to our east which drained onto our lot.  The run-off from these two rains resulted in considerable washing on the east side of our lot and runoff over the footings into the lower level of where our house would be.  The architect immediately redesigned a walkway along the east side of our house to include a low retaining wall and the construction of a rip rap waterway on the east side of the wall.  That solved all future problems of water run-off from the property east of us.


The year 2005 was the 40th anniversary of my Harvard Business School commencement.  I was asked to chair the class’ 40th reunion primarily because of my prior reunion leadership roles, which I agreed to if we could convince fellow classmate Monty Milner, HBS Section A to join me as a co-chair.  Monty agreed and we had responsibility for working with the HBS alumni staff in planning,  recruiting other reunion leaders, fund raising and conducting the reunion for our class.  The reunion was  held at the end of September.  One of the events of these reunions is the Saturday morning program.  Bob Kraft our section-mate   and owner of the New England Patriots, who had built the new  Gillette Stadium, offered to host our Saturday morning event in the stadium’s gathering room and to host  tours of the new stadium. 


The reunion was well attended and the highlight of the reunion was the Saturday morning event.  Bob Kraft, persuaded Bill Belichick the Patriot’s coach to speak to us.  The three Patriot Super Bowl trophies  were on full display under the watchful eye of a Patriot security person.  I invited Cindie and Brian to attend this event, as they were and are very strong Patriot fans.  I have the picture of her, shown below, with the trophies as my computer screen saver.  The reason for this is answered in the year 2010.  This was Francine’s first HBS reunion.

Cindie With The Patriot’s Super Bowl Trophies Bill Belichick And Bob Kraft


Monty Milner and Jim Francine And Jim




Francine and I invited Cindie and Kim to join us in Chicago  in late October to celebrate their  48th and 47th birthdays.  We spent three wonderful days visiting the sites of Chicago.  Francine and I then returned to Minneapolis.  Francine decided to only move a few pieces of furniture to Estancia, along with some furnishings and her prized collection of glass pieces which she and Timothy had collected on their many trips over the years.. 


Kim and David had settled into their home in Hudson.  Kyle and Brett enjoyed their Hudson High School experience, but deeply missed their Southlake, TX school friends.  Brett is and was at that time a natural leader.  He was president of his large junior and senior classes – some 400 each. Both Kyle and Brett shared the same friends in high school.  One day at lunch an altercation between Brett and several older and bigger students occurred when the older students were harassing a younger female student who was the daughter of Korean immigrants.  The altercation turned physical when Brett, who had a close friend also the son of Korean immigrants, confronted them for using racial slurs.  He did pretty well as both he and Kyle had been training with Martial Arts since they were young boys.  However, the altercation was broken up by the teachers who were in the cafeteria.  All of the boys, including Brett, were suspended for their actions.  Kyle chastised Brett for taking on these students  without Kyle backing him up. The girl’s parents heard what happened and promptly came to the school to protest the suspension of Brett, pointing out to the principal that these older students had been harassing their daughter.  They strongly advocated that Brett not be suspended.  The principal relented, reducing the length of the suspension and advising Brett the suspension would not be part of his record.  The other students served their full suspension.  I am not sure what a high school altercation on one’s record means, but all of us were proud of Brett and his actions.


Francine and I returned to Arizona to continue our work on our house and to celebrate Thanksgiving with Beverly and Allan, their son Mike and Cindy (Mike’s first wife) and their daughters Allie and Maddie, and Beverly and Allan’s daughter Jolinda and David (her husband) in Beverly and Allan’s  Terravita home.  Beverly had a wonderful spread for us.  Francine and I returned to Minneapolis to begin the process of getting her townhome prepared for sale. She listed the house in December and surprisingly the house sold to a neighbor very quickly.  Francine and I flew to Kim and David’s to celebrate Christmas with them and Cindie’s family.  After returning to  Minneapolis, Francine scheduled a moving van to pick up the furniture she was moving, her wardrobe and personal belongs and her BMW sedan.  She was flying to Phoenix.  When the moving van was loaded and ready to depart Minneapolis. I had my sedan loaded with my belongings ready to drive to Arizona.  The van which was only partially loaded departed to pick the remainder of its load.  Francine delayed her departure from Minneapolis by a day as she wanted time to say good bye to her very beautiful townhome and some of her close friends. She flew to Phoenix the following afternoon.  We agreed we would meet in Estancia as she would beat me there.


I was prepared for the solitary drive to Arizona with plenty of snacks, diet cokes and books on tape.  The roads were clear, the traffic light and weather all the way to Arizona favorable.  I made very good time stopping only for fuel, restrooms and some additional carry out food.  I made  good time as I was driving exclusively on Interstate Highways. I reached eastern NM by early the next morning.  I caught about 3 hours of sleep in a motel but awakened alert and anxious get to Arizona.  I arrived at our rental house, picked up the house keys, moved my belongings into the house, locked the door and drove to the airport to meet Francine’s plane. I was waiting at security when Francine arrived.  She nearly fainted, as she had no idea that I  would be there.  Shortly thereafter we had her moved into the house as well.  


We began the process of getting settled into our rental house for what ended up to be fifteen months until our house was finished.  The rental house was a bit small, but certainly large enough for the two of us and some occasional overnight guests.  It had a wonderful view of Pinnacle Peak and a very nice outside patio from which to watch the beautiful Arizona sunsets.  From my office with a window facing the driveway, I frequently saw bobcats and coyotes walking along our driveway. 


Our rental house was only a bit over one mile from our under construction site.  I was at the job site nearly every working day when we were in Scottsdale.  It was a big advantage as we caught some errors and made some modest changes before something was locked into the building.  As I write this some 15 years later, there were very few things we would have done differently based on living in the house now 15 years.   We probably would have chosen a different builder as  the builder mislead us with the promise that his brother-in-law would be our fulltime construction supervisor.  Very early in the process “our supervisor” was also responsible for the construction of two other houses.  Additionally, the builder decided to follow the developer of Estancia, Michael Meldman, to his new projects which was near Lake Coeur d’ Alane, ID and then to Hawaii.  The builder retained his office in Carefree, AZ and his office manager stayed on the job, as did his construction supervisor – for which we were thankful.  However, it was still disruptive to have the builder 1500 miles away full time.


Francine and I traveled to Minneapolis for a short visit with her daughter and family and to attend her granddaughter’s dance recital.   Early June we went to Boston to attend Kevin’s high school commencement and Eagle Scout ceremony.   Kevin had spent a year of high school study in Germany to perfect his German language skill.  Kevin’s commencement was also outside and  was conducted in rain, as was Brad’s.  Kevin was accepted in Northeastern University in Boston, where he would major in business.  Cindie hosted a large family and friends party to celebrate Kevin’s accomplishments. 

Kevin’s Commencement Kevin’s Eagle Scout Ceremony




Five Eagle Scouts and Cindie


From there we traveled to Hudson, OH to attend Kyle’s high school graduation.   Kyle was accepted in Ohio University, Athens, OH where he planned to major in science as a path to medical school. Kim hosted a large party celebrating Kyle’s commencement.  Cindie’s were there to help Kyle celebrate.  Later that summer, Francine and I invited Kevin and Kyle to join us in New York City to celebrate their accomplishments.  Kevin and Kyle each selected a Broadway Play for us to see.  Francine’s feet hurt and she walked some of Manhattan’s sidewalks bare foot.  Kevin and Kyle amazed us with how much each of them could eat.  One night Kevin and Kyle wanted to eat sushi so Francine and I dined separately and let the two of them be on their own for that evening.  It was a wonderful trip, which unfortunately we did not replicate with any of the other grandsons.

Mike Everist, Brian and Dave organized an August white water rafting trip on the Colorado River in the upper part of the Grand Canyon with Outdoors Unlimited.  Our three families, with the exception of Francine (who had enjoyed enough float trips in the Northern Boundary  Waters of Minnesota to last her a life-time), plus two good friends of Mike and Cindy comprised our group of seventeen.  The other seven passengers were non-family members.  We had eight guides with us one in each of the four passenger rafts.  The other guides manned the three supply rafts.  We gathered in Scottsdale and bussed to the entry point near the Glen Canyon Dam, specifically Lees Ferry, AZ.  


Early the next morning we entered the river with six passengers and a guide in each raft.  The river was quite calm, fairly wide and shallow at Lees Ferry.  The water was very clear and cold coming from Lake Powell which was formed by Glen Canyon Dam about ten miles upstream from Lees Ferry.  Early in the first day we passed the discharge of the Little Colorado River which discharged water very heavily laden with sand into the Colorado River.  The entire river  from that point on only got darker and more heavily sand laden. 


The guides were well schooled on important expected sightings on the trip, described the incredible geology displayed in the walls of the canyon, the vegetation, the wild life and early history, both Native American and explorers of the canyon.  Each of them reveled us with this information during the floating and during the meals.  We camped on the sandy beaches each night under the stars, only resorting to a small tent for shelter on one night when we had a brief rain.  Upon making camp each evening the guides would set up a camp kitchen and the “porta-potty” while we “tourists” found a place to sleep and organized our place for that evening.  The guides were excellent cooks and prepared wonderful hot breakfasts and dinners every day.  Lunches were equally tasty, but were typically freshly prepared sandwiches/cold cuts, fresh fruit, cookies and dried fruit.  The menus changed each day, with at least a steak, a pork chop, a chicken and a fish as dinner entrees on the different evenings.   The hot breakfasts were varied and ample to satisfy us until lunch.


 We floated about 20 miles the first day, stopping for lunch mid-way.  We were well  within the canyon at this time.  We only experienced one modest stretch of rapids which the guides judged to be a “4” on the International scale categorizing of rapids.  Before setting up camp we did a short hike up a side canyon to explore some of the local vegetation. About five miles into the second day’s float, we rafted about two miles of almost continuous rapids and falls ranging from 3  to 5 on the International scale.  It was exhilarating. We travelled only about 12 miles that day and experienced a brief rain shower.  Before dinner we did our second hike of the trip to observe some Native American ruins, including cave dwellings.  The third day we floated about 18 miles, stopping mid-afternoon to do a 3 hour hike into a box canyon with a 25 feet waterfall feeding the stream in the canyon.  The fourth day we floated about 16 miles and again did a three hour hike before dinner. The fifth day we floated about 21 miles, just 3 miles from where we would complete our trip.  In total we floated 89 miles and traversed some 20 rapids ranging from a 4 to a 7 in scale. 


The final morning on the river, we packed our personal possessions as well as a lunch for the hike out of the canyon via the well-known Bright Angel Trail.  The trail is 15.3 miles long and has an elevation change of almost 4500 feet.  It is rated as “difficult”.  It was a challenge for me.  The younger generation made very good time hiking out.  Upon reaching the end of the trail which is the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, we found Francine waiting for us.  Several of them talked her into buying them ice cream cones.  The fastest ones beat me by a couple of hours. Francine became concerned that they had left me in the canyon! Once we completed the climb, we checked into the Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim Lodge and retired to our rooms to take our first shower in a week.  The amount of sand that went down the drain as I showered embarrassed me.   We then gathered for a wonderful dinner in the lodge’s restaurant.  After dinner we strolled along the rim of the canyon bordering the lodge and most of us retired early.  The next morning after breakfast we boarded our bus and returned to Scottsdale.  It was a fantastic family trip.  Unfortunately, most of us did not have our phones or cameras with us for fear of losing them in the river, so I have no pictures of the trip.


When in Arizona Francine and I closely monitored the construction of our house.   Progress was reasonable, although it could have been faster if we could have gotten the Scottsdale building inspectors on the site when we wanted.  The construction industry was so busy, that the inspectors were frequently backed up to the point that we sometimes lost several days on the critical path construction items because of that delay.    When Francine and I weren’t traveling or occupied with our house, we enjoyed golf at the Troon Country Club.  In November, we were invited to an Estancia Golf Club annual event hosted by the primary realtor handling Estancia properties.  We attended and coincidentally met two lovely couples, both from Iowa, who were members of The Estancia Golf Club and lived in Estancia.  They were so welcoming as were the other attendees of the event, that Fran and I decided that we should join Estancia and sell our Troon Country Club membership, which we did.  We have never regretted joining Estancia Golf Club which has consistently been rated as the best golf course in Arizona.  Francine and I drove to Las Vegas to celebrate Thanksgiving with Lindsey.  Francine purchased tickets to see Celine Dion, which was a real treat.  We celebrated Christmas at Disney World, with Cindie’s, Kim’s and Francine’s daughter Heather and her family.  We had a great time.  Benjamin particularly enjoyed the rides and hanging out with my six grandsons.


The year 2006 came to a close as Francine and I celebrated a successful year of good progress on our house, joining the Estancia Golf Club and a busy travel year primarily family related.  The year 2007 kicked off with the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) football game with number one ranked Ohio State Buckeyes playing the Florida University Gators in University of Phoenix stadium located in Glendale, AZ.  Kim and David  invited his dad and brother to travel with them to Phoenix to attend the game.  Cindie and Brian also came and they invited Francine and me to join them at the game.  The Buckeyes were favored against the number two ranked Gators. The game started  with the Buckeyes returning the kick-off return for a touchdown.  After that  it was all downhill as the Gators scored 41 points and the Buckeyes only added one  more touchdown to its score!  Such a disappointment.


Finally, on March 10th the house was finished, we had our Certificate of Occupancy and began the  move in.  We were  very pleased with our new house.  We purchased a considerable amount of new furniture to add to the few pieces of furniture that Francine and I had moved from our previous homes.  There were a number of “punch list items” which the builder needed to complete, but nothing very large or limiting as far as our occupying the house.  The next several months were busy ones getting settled into our house.


Brad graduated from the University of Massachusetts on May 27th.  Francine and I attended as did Cindie, Brian and several of his brothers.  Brad completed his studies in the prescribed four years.  We spent a lazy afternoon on a grassy public grounds near Brad and Brad’s girlfriend, Kelly’s apartment.  Brad moved back home and began the process of finding gainful employment while he contemplated an advanced degree in the field of science or medicine.


Brett graduated form high school in June.  He was the class president and he gave a fine senior class address at commencement.  Kim and Dave hosted a large party at their home for Brett’s friends.  Francine and I traveled to Hudson to help Brett celebrate.  Cindie’s family was there as well.  Brett joined his brother in enrolling at the University of Ohio in Athens, OH, which was located in the southeastern part of OH.  Kyle was living in his fraternity his  second year at Ohio University. Brett was living in one of the co-ed dorms on campus his freshman year.  Later in the year, Brett pledged (to join) the same fraternity as Kyle.  He would move into the fraternity house at the beginning of his second year.  During that second year, both the university and the fraternity’s national organization threatened to close down the fraternity for violation of certain rules.  Brett as a sophomore, committed to his fraternity brothers that if they elected him president of the fraternity, that he would keep the fraternity from being kicked off campus and closed by the fraternity’s national organization.  Brett spent considerable time and energy fulfilling his promise to his brothers and to keeping the fraternity open.  However, after doing so, he decided that fraternity living was not for him and moved into an apartment for the remainder of his four years at Ohio University.


Brett, Francine and Jim


In July we traveled to Minneapolis to visit Francine’s daughter Heather and her family and to catch up with our dear friends Jim Daniel and his wife Judy McMann at their lake home in northern Minnesota.  From there  we traveled to Traverse City, Michigan located on Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan, to attend the Davis Family Reunion.  Our niece Kyla Davis had located a wonderful venue which was  a large modern house with a dozen bedrooms, a large kitchen/ dining/gathering area and a full finished basement with recreational areas and television viewing seating.  The house was about 100 yards from the water of the bay where we were able to swim, boat and water ski.  The only drawback was the beach was more rocks and mud than sand.  Of the immediate family, only Brian and Adam were unable to attend as they had a prior reservation which could not be changed, to hike the Boy Scout Philmont Ranch.  It was a wonderful week.  The highlight of which was a drive and cruise to Mackinac Island where we spent a delightful several hours touring the commercial and residential area of the island.  When Francine and I left Traverse City, we drove across the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and along Lake Michigan shore into Wisconsin and back to Minneapolis before our return to Phoenix.  The drive along the Lake Michigan shore  was very interesting with a large stretch of land of nothing but large sand dunes.  We drove through Green Bay,  so we could say that we had been there.  It was a great trip.



Jaynane, Nancy, Beverly, Dick, Bob and Jim in MI


David joined Highmark a giant insurance and health related non-profit company based in Pittsburg, PA as president of Highmark’s optical business in November 2007.  Highmark’s vision business was based in San Antonio, TX with operations nationally.  The business consisted of six separate optical business acquired by Highmark over the years which Highmark continued to operate as separate businesses.  Highmark’s CEO hired David to organize these businesses into a single efficient national optical business.  Kim and David would not move to Texas for several years as David had extensive travel obligations managing the six separate business which he had to organize into a single integrated company.


Francine and I needed to establish our various health care providers now that we were in Arizona full time.  We were accepted into Mayo Clinic’s care.  I was on Medicare while Francine was on a private insurance plan.  Mayo was not accepting new primary care patients who were on Medicare. However, Francine was invited to join the Mayo Clinic Arizona Development (fund raising) Board on which she served some six years.  As a result, she was able to get me enrolled in Mayo’s primary care.  I was assigned a neat lady physician who was educated in the US but was raised in Pakistan. As I write this she is still my primary care physician.


Francine volunteered to work in the hospital four hours a week. I decided that I too, should give back. Shortly thereafter I began my volunteering at Mayo. I started at the information desk in an auxiliary building to the hospital in north Phoenix where I worked four hours a week for some six years.  I then switched to working the same amount of hours in the in-patient pharmacy for some eight years until the Covid-19 pandemic.  All volunteers were “furloughed” for most of the Covid pandemic.  When I returned some eight months later, I chose to work outside driving one of the transport trams.  I have now volunteered for about sixteen years and continue to enjoy it.


Christmas 2007 was spent in Estancia where we hosted Cindie’s and Kim’s.  Those from Massachusetts and Ohio appreciated the very nice Scottsdale weather.  We borrowed a neighbor’s house for the extra sleeping beds, thinking that the boys would want to sleep in a bed, however they all decided to pile into our one small bedroom casita with a pullout bed in the sitting room.  Cindie and Brian however, did take advantage of the extra bed in that house.  Beverly and Allan joined us for our Christmas celebration.  One afternoon we men and boys climbed the rock hill behind our house for a panoramic view of Pinnacle Peak and the surrounding valley.  We celebrated with a Christmas Dinner at nearby Mastros Steakhouse.   We had a photographer come to our house to take family photos. 



Kim, Jim & Cindie In AZ


Kim, David, Brett, Kyle, Cindie, Brad, Brian, Andy, Adam & Kevin


Jim and His Grandsons  - Kyle, Adam, Kevin, Brett, Andy & Brad


Fran & Jim


The year of 2007 was in the books.  Our Arizona retirement home was complete; we were settled in our new home; we had christened it with our family Christmas; and, we had a wonderful Davis Family Reunion in Michigan.  We were looking forward to a great 2008.



Our family trip to Egypt -

The Cover Of Kim’s Memory Book Of Our Egypt Trip

To start 2008, Cindie, Brian, Kim, David, Francine and I flew to Cairo, Egypt for a ten day visit.  None of us had been to Egypt, although we had booked a tour several years previously, but had to cancel because of unrest in the Middle East.  Cindie had studied Egypt, particularly the tourist guides and she was exceptionally well prepared for the trip.  We booked the trip and guides through A & K as we had with so many of our previous trips abroad.  Our group was small about 15 tourist for which we had a full-time guide who was exceptionally knowledgeable as to Egypt’s history, current politics and local customs. Because of the importance of tourism to Egypt and the threat of terrorism, we had private armed guards traveling with our group the entire time.  The morning of our first day in Cairo, I opened the drapes for our hotel room and in the not too far distance could see the three giant pyramids near Cairo.  We toured Cairo, including a private tour of the National Museum, with its tremendous number of artifacts (many of them not well displayed or even arranged for lack of funding); we visited the nearby three very large pyramids guarded by the sphinx; we did the obligatory camel ride and  we learned about the Egyptian culture.  We were permitted to enter one interior room of one of the pyramids by crawling on our hands and knees about fifty feet in a very tight tunnel.  Francine with her claustrophobia was not interested in joining us on this minor investigation.


We spent four days cruising the Nile River upstream.  We made a number of stops along the way to visit important sites.  The temples  and other historic buildings, some of them quite well preserved were fascinating. We overnighted on the cruise ship however; the ship was docked each evening.  We were able to go ashore but only in groups accompanied by armed guards.  Our guide spent several hours in a private meeting with us on the upper deck of the ship answering our questions about Egypt, its politics, its government and the recent current events.  She was very candid but also quite emphatic that she would be in danger if we disclosed any of her comments publicly.


The Aswan High Dam



We  cruised to the Aswan High Dam, located in Egypt on its border with Sudan, which created  Lake Nasser primarily in Sudan. The Aswan High Dam has led to an increase in agricultural production, electricity generation, employment opportunities, and enhancement of navigation that gives a boost to the tourism industry, particularly  in Egypt. However, despite these vital aspects, the dam flooded a significantly large area resulting in the relocation of many people in Sudan, coastline erosion, soil salinity and health complications. In spite of these negative aspects, with a reservoir capacity of 132 cubic kilometers, the Aswan High Dam provides water for about 77 million acres of irrigated land and largely meets the irrigation needs of both Egypt and Sudan.  Importantly, it also significantly decreased the flooding of the Nile which destroyed crops, buildings and infrastructure as well as wasting valuable water to the Mediterranean Sea.

Building the dam necessitated the relocation not only of nearly 100,000 residents and four famous archaeological sites that were later reconstructed in sites above the lake level. The tourist road that passes near the airstrip leads to the massive rock temple of Abu Simbel, built by Pharaoh Ramses II in the 13th century BCE. The temple was reassembled above the shoreline of Lake Nasser.  Abu Simbel was one of our site visits on this trip.  Among the other notable sites, we toured on the river cruise were The Valley of Kings and the Luxor Temple.  We flew back to Cairo for our final couple of days in Egypt prior to returning to the U.S.  It was a wonderful and educational trip.  It increased our appreciation for the understanding of middle east history and the then current events.


In the middle of 2008, our niece Kyla Davis began authoring a monthly newsletter and e-mailing it to every member  of our immediate family.  She included comments about what family members were doing, included comments from various family members and encouraged family members to send her pictures of their family’s activities.  Kyla has continued this to the time of this writing.   It is a wonderful way of keeping up with our growing expanded family.  Concurrently, Judy assembled an immediate Ralph Davis directory which include every one’s name, address, e-mail and phone contact information.  These  two actions plus our periodic family reunions help knit our family together.   Interestingly, none of the families of dad’s siblings do a similar thing.


Fran and I travel to Alaska –


In August 2008, Francine and I flew to Fairbanks, AK to begin a combination land trip and cruise to Vancouver, BC Canada.  We spent three days in Fairbanks.  One day I traveled to Prudhoe Bay and Barrow, AK to revisit the oil production operation which I had visited some ten years previously with Chemlink Petroleum.  The tour of Barrow AK, the northern most town in the US was very interesting.  We sighted a polar bear on a small ice flow some 300 yards off shore in the Artic Ocean.  The native tribes subsist on meager gardens, hunting and fishing.  They typically harvested one whale a year to serve the local natives with whale oil for light, and meat for the winter.   While I was on my trip to north Alaska, Fran had a delightful visit of the local Fairbanks college and visited a display tributing the rugged women who helped settle Alaska.  We did a river cruise on a paddle steamer which stopped at a Native American village and also at a training facility for dogs to pulled dogsleds.  The owner and dog trainer was a past Iditarod dogsled race winner. 


The fourth day we boarded the passenger train which travels between Fairbanks and Anchorage with a few intermediate stops.  The glass domed rail cars provided great viewing of the spectacular scenery along the way.  We departed the train at the Denali Princes Hotel on the northeast edge of the massive Denali National Park.  The lodge was a large hotel which served as the base for the many tourists who visit Denali.  We scheduled a Denali Backcountry Tour for the following day.


We departed on the tour early the next morning and drove on an unimproved crushed rock road for some four hours with numerous stops along the way.  One of the stops was at a location  which provided us great views of Denali, albeit with some clouds.  As reported earlier when we visited Alaska with my grandsons, it is said that only about 1/3 of the tourists to Denali ever see the  mountain because of the nearly continuous cloud cover.  I have been very fortunate in that I saw it on both this trip and my previous trip to Denali in 1998. 


 Denali Mountain; The Tallest Mountain in North America - 20,320 Feet High


The four hour drive to a small resort on the west side of Denali National Park provided many animal sightings.   We lunched and rested at the resort and prepared for the return drive to the Princess Lodge.  We again had numerous sightings, including one big grizzly bear walking the very road our bus was traversing.  The driver stopped the bus and the bear walked leisurely along the side of the bus.


The wild game sighted  on the drive included a total of 13 grizzly bears, 13 moose, a herd of mountain sheep, a herd of caribou, a red fox with cubs at their den and a beaver pond with several beaver working away.  It was a fantastic drive with wonderful animal sightings.  Certainly, this one-day drive through Denali National Park was the highlight of the trip, and indeed for me, the highlight of all my travels.  Seeing Denali in all its splendor and all of these big animals in their home grazing lands was an outstanding experience.


The Backcountry Tour Bus A Grizzly Who Shared The Road With Our Bus




From Denali, we traveled to Anchorage by domed train through more spectacular Alaska scenery, stayed overnight in Anchorage, then bussed to  Seward, AK to board our cruise ship.  We then spent five days cruising to Vancouver, BC, Canada with three stops along the way. The ship mainly sailed at night and stopped in a port during the day.  We departed Seward and  sailed to Valdez where the Alyeska Pipe Line terminates, crude oil is stored temporarily until it is loaded  on crude oil transporters and shipped primarily to the Pacific Northwest.  We enjoyed a tour  into the rugged country surrounding the  terminal and port. It was easy to see where the underground pipeline in that area was located, as the ground was cleared and there was no snow on the pipeline right away. The entire operation was impressive.  The Alyeska had the capacity to transport over two million barrels of oil a day from the North Slope to Valdez.  A considerable amount of temporary storage for the oil is required for this operation.

The Alyeska Pipeline Underground The Valdez Extensive Oil Storage Facility




Glacier Bay Where We Shared The Sights With A Second Cruise Ship


We sailed through some very rough water that second night.  Francine was seasick and miserable.  No medicine helped.  The next morning Francine found some relief in the  wearing of a plastic bracelet.  That evening, we dined with the captain.  He advised us that it was some of the roughest waters he had ever experienced.  We sailed into Glacier Bay that day.  It is an impressive National Park which consists of a deep water inlet into which water  runoff and ice calving from some 35 named  glaciers   is  continually discharged into the bay.  Some 170 years ago at the end of the Little Ice Age there were some 150 glaciers in the park.  As of recently there were 25 active glaciers in the park. It was really impressive watching and listening to the calving of giant ice chunks from the glaciers and falling into the water.  The sound is a very loud “crack”. Which can be heard for miles around.  Glacier Bay is about 100 miles west of Juneau, AK.


We stopped in four AK  ports on the remainder of the cruise – Skagway, Juneau, Wrangell and Ketchikan.  In Skagway we rode a train along part of the very rugged trail that gold  prospectors travelled in route to the Yukon Gold fields.  What those prospectors were able to accomplish in traversing this very rugged terrain is unbelievable.   Juneau is very small considering it is the state capital.  In Juneau, we did a riding tour of the city and visited a predator bird sanctuary where we saw many rescued eagles that were being rehabilitated for release back in the wild..  The second stop, Wrangell is a small fishing village.  Ketchikan is also a fishing village although it is larger than Wrangell, with a bit more to see.  The final day we arrived in Vancouver, disembarked and checked into our hotel.  It was there that we learned that Senator and Viet Nam hero John McCain the Republican candidate for the presidency of the US announced his choice of a running mate.  It was Sara Palin, the previous governor of AK.  Fran and I toured Vancouver, visited Butchart Gardens and prepared for our return to AZ. 


That November, Barak Obama was elected president of the US easily beating  John McCain.  President Obama was the first black US president and most of America celebrated that accomplishment.  However, his policies which were considerably left of President Clinton, throttled the US economy.


The year 2009 started sadly.  Jerry Atkin died on January 14.  His  funeral service  occurred concurrently with the conclusion of the  2009 Scottsdale Barret Jackson auction.  Neal and Colin were in Arizona to attend the Barret Jackson auto show and auction.  Neal joined me in driving to Twin Falls where Jerry and Janie resided.  Nancy was driving to Twin Falls from their home in Kent, WA – near Seattle.  Most of the family gathered to support Janie, Justin and Jill and to attend Jerry’s services.  I stayed with Janie a few days beyond the funeral and helped her with some of the myriad of things she was required to accomplish because of his death.  I drove back to Scottsdale alone in one day, some 800 miles.  (Francine made me promise that I would stop over-night on the drive back, however, I had started at about 4 AM that morning; Janie had fixed me sandwiches and cookies; I had plenty of diet coke and I made very good time.  I called Francine as I came into AZ and told her that there was a snow storm forecasted for northern AZ and I needed to get to at least Flagstaff before I stopped over-night.  Two hours later I was in Flagstaff.  I called her to report that I was stopped in front of a motel in Flagstaff and that I was ready to check in the motel or that it was only two more hours to home and I could be there for the night.  She relented and said “come on home!”)


I was elected to the board of directors of our HOA in late 2008 and took office in 2009.  There are six members of the board which sets HOA policy, manages the HOA finances and supervises the HOA manager, who  manages the HOA security staff and the office manager.  The HOA manager also is primarily responsible for working with home owners within the property who are having homes built, remodeled or otherwise changes.  I served seven years on the board, including chairing the board for two years. 


I had served on a number of company internal boards and on non-profit boards, however the HOA board is different in that if focuses on managing the community in which the board members are owners each with specific vested interests as well as the overall community interest.  Sometimes the personal interests interfered with a unanimous collective joint interest.  There were occasions where some fairly significant arm twisting was required.  Additionally, some dissatisfied home- owners were always willing to pick up the phone and call the HOA president.  But on balance it was a satisfying service to our community.


That Easter,  Francine and I continued our tradition which was started in 2003 of having Easter lunch/brunch with Sybil, Jeff, Lily and Will plus Beverly and Allan at The Estancia Club.

Bev & Al With Lily & Will Hoffman Sybil, Jeff, Lily & Will Hoffman




In May we travelled to Westford, MA to attend Andrew’s college commencement from The University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Andrew had worked a considerable amount of time during college in local restaurants to earn spending money.  He lived in a rented house with several of his friends and classmates.  Cindie and Brian hosted a wonderful graduation party at their home a for him which doubled as a birthday party for my nephew, Justin Aiken, who turned 37 years old on May 15th.  Andrew moved into a Boston apartment with several of his college friends and began working at a nearby restaurant.  There he met and on  June 2018 married a fellow employee of that restaurant, Courtney McKenna.


Andrew Among His Fellow Graduates On A Special And Spectacular Day


Brad, Adam, Jim, Andrew, Brian and Kevin


That summer Cindie, Brian, Kim and David purchased a wonderful house in Windy Walk, development which is a part of Troon Village.  The property was about two miles from our Estancia home.  The four of them believed that it would be a good investment.  The three bedroom house, which included a large master bedroom suite and a smaller junior bedroom suite, an office, a small formal dining room, a decent sized combination family kitchen, great room and living room.  The covered outdoor dining/sitting area overlooking the swimming pool was to die for.  Possibly the best feature was the view from outside the front door looking into the house, through the house out a window over the swimming pool all of which perfectly framed a wonderful view of Pinnacle  Peak.  That view alone sold Cindie that this was their place.  The other three agreed with Cindie.


The four of them thought that they would be able to use the house when they visited AZ either jointly or separately.  However, their busy lives precluded their being able to spend much time in it. We were approached by a young couple moving to Scottsdale from Ohio that Kim’s knew. They wanted to rent a house for the summer.  We made them an offer of a bargain rent through August.  The broker who found this house for Cindie and family, approached me with a client of hers who wanted to rent a house in the area for a year while their house was being constructed.  In all we had four renters who rented the house for about eight months each during the non-summer months.  Cindie and Kim and their families were not able to enjoy the house much as their careers and family activities precluded spending much time in AZ.  They sold the house in 2015 at a slight loss, however they enjoyed some rental income during the five plus years that they owned it.


In September, Francine and I flew to London where we boarded a cruise ship on the Thames to sail to St. Petersburg, Russia by way of the Kiel Canal from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. We stopped in Tallin, Estonia for a tour of Tallin on the way.  The Tallin inhabitants take exceptional care of and pride in their properties.  We continued to St. Petersburg and since we were on a small cruise ship,  with only 100 passengers, we were able to sail on the Neva River into and dock at the St. Petersburg wharf.  We spent three days in St. Petersburg with a private guide and spent considerable time in the Hermitage, plus time touring The Summer Palace of Peter the Great, the Catherine Palace, the Summer Palace, the Winter Palace and the Peter and Paul Cathedral, among others.  We stayed on the ship for breakfast, dinner and sleeping.  St. Petersburg’s attractions are splendid however, the residents live in tall, grey, crowded buildings.


The Hermitage Museum From The Neva River



Several Pictures From The Hermitage Museum


We departed St. Petersburg and  sailed to Gdansk,  Poland where we visited the site of the Polish ship building worker’s strike against the Communist Government which was a puppet of Russia.  The site commemorated the movement which eventually resulted in the Communist government folding. Poland returned to a democratic government and joined NATO.  We then sailed to Demark where we had a one day stop in Copenhagen.  We toured wonderful Copenhagen which included a cruise of some of the substantial amount of water in and around Copenhagen. We had one final short visit to the port city, Brugge in Belgium.  It was a quaint city with several cathedrals.  We had a leisurely canal cruise through the city.


We  returned to London, which included sailing under the London Bridge to a docking station. Francine and I spent two more days in London, enjoying the sights, visiting Churchill’s London residence and the government’s WW II war-time bunker from where Churchill directed the UK war effort.  The bunker was amazingly small, possibly only 2000 square feet in size, with what we now consider antiquated communication and other office equipment.  It was a very significant step back in time, as only 65 years ago, Germany finally surrendered to the Allied forces.  We also had a delightful tour of Buckingham Palace and the surrounding gardens.


Our family gathered at Kim’s for our 2009 family Christmas.  Kim had arranged for a photographer for family  photographs.  The pictures were taken in Kim and David’s annex, a separate building some 75 yards from their lovely house located on about 10 acres in Hudson, OH.  Unfortunately, Brad was unable to stay for the entire time and was not present for the family photos.



It was the end of another decade was celebrated at Kim’s as we greeted 2010 which was to be unexpectedly a very sad year for our family.


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