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Oglesby: Lost friends made their mark
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The husband of a Gainesville native whose name has been in the news and this column on a number of occasions has done it again. James Terry, a native of Chatsworth and married to the former Julie Grogan, daughter of Keith and Lida Grogan, has been promoted to Army Lt. General (three-star rank).

The 50th annual Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast will be history when this column next appears. Don’t forget this “shouldn’t miss” event from 7:30-11:30 a.m. Sept. 24 at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Longtime friend and civic and business leader Frank Turk died unexpectedly. It came as a shock, and the community loses another big contributor to the overall good. We talked at length at church Sunday before his death “solving the nation’s problems,” and he seemed in good health. 

Another death may be news to the number of local friends of Claire Mickelsen. When husband Olaf died, Claire moved to Charleston, W.Va., where one of her daughters, a nurse, lived. She was in an assisted living facility, active until recently when she entered a skilled nursing facility on the same campus. I got an e-mail from her daughter, Margaret Sontag, after my last column’s deadline that Claire had died.

Claire was one of the most unusual, loving and generous souls I’ve ever known. She and Olaf lived on a 40-acre river tract in Pea Ridge in northeastern Hall County. Olaf designed their home, hired an architect who found a contractor to build it. The very first time they ever sat foot in Georgia was the day they moved in.

They needed an income tax preparer. I co-hosted WDUN’s Morning Talk show. Once weekly I, an enrolled agent, answered callers’ tax questions. She heard it and called me for an appointment. I became their tax preparer for years here in Hall County and after the move to West Virginia.

The following includes usually confidential financial affairs, but Margaret gave me permission to use the following examples for this column.

Every year, tax Claire’s records included numerous pages of charitable contributions. Most weren’t small. When Olaf died, she endowed a million-dollar scholarship fund in his name at the University of Wisconsin where he was a doctor of nutrition.

The assisted-living facility was expensive and some residents had tough times with their budgets. She first anonymously subsidized the rent for several before funding an endowment for that purpose.

She was an Army WAC in World War II meeting and marrying Olaf after his first wife died. You’ve heard of K-rations. Olaf was a partner with Ancel Key in inventing them and they shared the royalties. He invented Lite Salt and had those royalties alone.

When she came to pick up their first tax return, she gave me a box of Lite Salt. Sensing she wanted me to ask its significance, I did. She related the story of the invention. That box remains is in my office today.

Olaf was a visiting professor in Iran when students supporting Ayatollah Khomeini took over the embassy where they had fled with only one suitcase each. They were on the last bus taking refugees to the airport and on the last refugee flight out of Iran, leaving all else to looters

She, Margaret and her husband, and a niece who roomed with her traveled with me on some of my trips, including the 1990 Passion Play in Oberammergau, Austria. We tried each year to move as much possible out of her multimillion-dollar estate to her children tax-free as we could, but the harder we tried, the further behind we fell.

She finally phoned me saying, “Ted, quit trying. I’ve decided what I’m going to do. We’ll keep transferring as much as we can each year. In my will, I’m bequeathing my children and niece set sums with everything else going to designated charities.”

What an example she left!

 Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion editor of The Times. His column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com. Contact him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503.

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