Rick Russell/Voices: Chance encounter with a Wise woman

Rick Russell/Voices: Chance encounter with a Wise woman


It was early Monday, Feb. 27, when I boarded the American Airlines plane out of Champaign to Chicago, the first leg of a trip that would take me to Emory Johns Creek Hospital just outside of Atlanta for surgery.

I sat down, looked to my right toward the window seat and said to the lady sitting there, "You're Phyllis Wise." She responded, "How do you know?" I said simply, "I pay attention."

The next 1 1/2 hours has to be one of the highlights of my 70 years of life. To sit and converse with a person of her courage that she would move to Colorado to start anew, once again bridging the gap between science and medicine.

We avoided any discussion of politics; university or otherwise. I have been associated with three community colleges as an adjunct professor/instructor and three universities as an academic professional. I know the politics. I had once thought of earning a Ph.D. myself but I settled for a BA, a MBA, a MLS.

So we talked children, grandchildren, the challenge of moving under any circumstances. Her daughter a cellist in Barcelona, Spain. Her son an attorney, I think, in the Northeast.

As a business consultant I had worked with perhaps 500 different individuals and businesses over the years. I have a sister who at 76 just sold her business as a senior move manager so I know there is help for those who need to move but need help determining what to keep, what is precious.

I know I was too busy in Florida when my mother sold her house in western Massachusetts. I did not mind that she sold the picture frames, but she let the pictures go with them. Precious to me and to many in my family.

I also have moved from a lower-cost housing market to a much higher cost market more than once. One time I designed and built my own super-insulated house to deal with many of those costs. So this is Ms. Wise's story and mine. I hope I was able to give her a few tips to help her through the moving process. But it is Illinois's loss. But the time I spent in conversation with Ms. Wise was all gift to me.

Rick Russell lives in Monticello.