birthday

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My uncle, Bill Spencer went home to be with the Lord on Christmas Day 2020. It isn’t the perfect day to lose a loved one, but I think it would be the perfect day to go home to Heaven. Instead of spending Christmas in a nursing home, alone because of Covid restrictions and sick with Covid, often not remembering most people, except maybe his kids, Uncle Bill got to spend Christmas with his parents, Anna and Allen Spencer, as well as his siblings, Laura Fredrick, Allen Spencer, and Ruth Wolfe…and most importantly, he got to spend Christmas with Jesus. How awesome is that!!

Uncle Bill and his little brother, my dad, Allen Spencer were very close growing up and into their later years too. Whenever they were together, you can bet the stories flew around the room. Their antics were crazy. When those two boys got together, all bets were off. They were farm kids, so they knew how to use dynamite to blow a tree stump out of a field…or to shorten a gate post by 3 or 4 inches or wake up the neighborhood at daybreak on July 4th.

They were intensely patriotic, and both were part of the war effort during World War II…Uncle Bill as a riveter on ships and planes, and my dad as an airplane assembler and later, flight engineer and top turret gunner on a B-17. Not being able to serve was a great disappointment to Uncle Bill, who really wanted to go along with his little brother to fight the war. Thankfully, both were alive at its end, and because they were, my cousins Pam Wendling, Bill Spencer, and Jim Spencer got to have a dad, and my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock and I got to exist.

Uncle Bill was the family historian. He loved looking into his ancestry, and because he did, we all got to know so much, or about our family that we ever would have otherwise. He was sometimes helped with his nephews, Gene and Dennis Fredrick, and grandnephews Tim and Shawn Fredrick. Uncle Bill was meticulous with the family history, striving relentlessly to get everything down on paper (no computer for Uncle Bill) and to get it correct. He was a champion of family truth, and we are the beneficiaries…as are many cousins around the country.

They have been back together for over a year in Heaven now, and I know that they and their sisters and parents are having the time of their lives. Nevertheless, we all miss them very much here on Earth, and look forward to seeing all of them again in Heaven. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 100th birthday. It was a life well lived, and we were blessed to have him. He almost made it, going home just a month short of his 99th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.

Some people have a way of letting you know what just might be coming, by the look on their face. My uncle, Wayne Byer is that way. Uncle Wayne is a character, and the first sign that something is about to happen is the mischievous grin that appears on his face. As the youngest of, in my mind, the famous “Byer Middles” and the “Mischievous Three,” Uncle Wayne learned his mischievous ways from the very best. Uncle Larry may have been the leader of the pack, and my mom, Collene Spencer was probably guilty by default…at least at first. She could get into trouble with the best of them, because she looked up to her brothers, and always wanted to be right there in the middle of whatever it was that they were planning that day. Being the only girl in the “Mischievous Three” didn’t bother her one bit, in fact I think she rather liked it. The boys did things differently, and for my mom, that was all the more fun.

Uncle Wayne Spent much of his career around kids. He worked in the schools, as a bus driver, then as the supervisor over the bus garage. I think everyone of the kids in the family, whether we rode a bus or not, thought it was great that Uncle Wayne was in charge of the whole operation. Running all those busses for a large school district was no easy job, and Uncle Wayne did a great job of it. Everyone liked Uncle Wayne, and when they knew we were related, we were liked too. It made us very proud of his accomplishments.

Uncle Wayne loved kids, and he lived making the kids laugh. Maybe that was the biggest “take-away” for him being the youngest of the “Mischievous Three” for all those years. Some things you just don’t grow out of, and as many of us know, it’s very hard to take the “little boy” out of the man. Once they are goofy, they always seem to be goofy. They just love to see people smile and laugh, and that is really who Uncle Wayne is. Today is Uncle Wayne’s 84th birthday, although he really doesn’t seem 84. His is still a kid at heart. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Before the helicopter was invented, getting wounded men out of the battlefield was much harder. Transporting the wounded is dangerous work, whether you are driving, walking, or flying them out, but the helicopter could get in and out so much faster than any other mode of transportation, and once they were up, they were often out of range of the guns below. That made their escape much more likely to happen. In December 1961, the USS Core (T-AKV-41) docked in Saigon with 82 US Army Piasecki H-21 helicopters. Operation Chopper commenced a little more than 12 days later.

On January 12, 1962, the first helicopter assault, called Operation Chopper, took place when 33 United States Army CH-21C Shawnee transport helicopters of the 8th and 57th Transportation Companies airlifted 1,036 soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) into battle against an insurgent Viet Cong (National Liberation Front) stronghold, approximately 10 miles west of Saigon. The landing zone was 150 yards by 300 yards and surrounded by tall trees. While there were trees surrounding the field, the area was still not very safe. Nevertheless, the VC were surprised and soundly defeated, but they gained valuable combat experience they later used with great effect against American troops.

The paratroopers also captured an underground radio transmitter. This operation heralded a new era of air mobility for the US Army, which had been slowly growing as a concept since the Army formed twelve helicopter battalions in 1952 as a result of the Korean War. These new battalions eventually formed a sort of modern-day cavalry for the Army.

The Piasecki Helicopter Company CH-21C Shawnee was a single-engine, tandem rotor transport helicopter. The flight crew consisted of three men, with the addition of one or two gunners. It could transport up to 20 soldiers under ideal conditions. The helicopter’s overall length was 86 feet, 4 inches, with its rotors running. It was 15 feet, 9 inches high. The rotors were 44 feet in diameter and the fuselage was 52 feet, 7 inches long. The empty weight was 8,950 pounds and maximum takeoff weight was 15,200 pounds.

The Piasecki Helicopter was not without its issues, however. Its performance in the hot and humid climate of Southeast Asia was limited, restricting the troop load to 9 soldiers, out of the 20-person capacity the helicopter was said to have. It was withdrawn from service in 1964 when the Bell HU-1A Iroquois began to replace it. All CH-21Cs were retired when the CH-47 Chinook assumed its role in 1965.

My uncle, Bill Beadle was a unique kind of man. He loved all things cowboy, western, and especially the Old West. I suppose it’s possible that he was rather living in the wrong era. It’s not that God made a mistake and put him in the wrong time, but sometimes our own preferences make us feel like we might have been better suited to a different era. I’m quite sure that his family would have argued that point with him anyway, if he were to suggest that he should have lived in the Old West. Really though, for Uncle Bill, it wasn’t about living in the Old West, it was about loving Wyoming…and he really did.

He loved all the outdoor activities that were favorites of his. He loved to hunt and fish. He loved spending time with his family in the great outdoors. His sons were his favorite companions…other than my Aunt Virginia, of course. He was born in Worland, Wyoming, and he always loved Wyoming. This would be the place he wanted most to be.

Uncle Bill was always funny and humorous, and I liked visiting with him. When his memory started to go, Uncle Bill could no longer come to the family parties, and so, many of us lost track of him. He struggled to communicate with family, and it simply became easier to just stay home and not try to carry on those conversations. I really miss those times with Uncle Bill. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.

My niece, Gaby Beach has had a very busy year. Following her graduation from nursing school, Gaby took a job at Wyoming Medical Center, where both she and her husband, Allen Beach now work. Gaby now works in the PCU, which is an area of the hospital for patients who don’t need to be in the ICU, but aren’t quite ready for the care they would get on a regular floor. Gaby really likes her job, and she has been assigned as the charge nurse periodically.

Because they both work at the hospital now, Gaby and Allen decided to buy a house near their work. They had been renting an apartment for Allen’s parents, Caryl and Mike Reed, but the place was far out in the country, and now that they were both working, they felt it was time for a home of their own. They found a great house that wasn’t too far from the hospital, and now they are working on making it their own, and enjoying the time with their dogs, Oly and Jasper. They’ve removed some trees in the back yard that we’re old and growing into power lines. They hope to build a garage in the back yard sometime in the near future, but for now they will most likely settle for a taller privacy fence.

Having school out of the way for now has been really nice for Gaby and Allen, who has a degree in Hospital administration. Gaby’s degree is in nursing, of course, and at some point, down the road, she plans to work toward her bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), but for now she wants to just relax and enjoy her job and life for a while.

They have plans to go to Disney World in April. They have worked very hard, and a fun break will be awesome for them. I’m sure that after a cold winter, a trip to sunny Florida would be really nice. Gaby and Allen really love to travel, but with Covid, they haven’t been able to do much of that, making this trip to Florida a big deal. Covid has kept everyone closer to home these days, but now it’s time to live a little. I know they will have a great time.

Gaby and Allen first met when they were in the Navy, stationed at the same place. That is also where Gaby became interested in becoming a nurse. Being a Corpsman taught her so much about medicine, and so when she was done with her term of service, she went back to school to become a nurse, and she has become an asset to the hospital. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Toni Chase has had a wonderful year with her family. She and her husband, Dave went to Florida in May. By going early in the summer, they dodged the major tourist season, and were able to enjoy a nice, peaceful getaway. It’s probably good that they had that quiet getaway, because when they got back to Casper, they were very busy helping with her son, James Renville and his wife, Manuela’s wedding…which was beautiful, by the way.

Toni’s life has taken a wonderful turn, with the addition of her beautiful daughter-in-law, and watching her son be so very happy. James and Manuela are happy, and for a mom, there is nothing better than knowing that. James and Manuela are beginning their new life together, but they still find time to spend with the family. Whenever they are around, the family dogs, Cricket and Biscuit are on cloud nine. In fact, Cricket loves playing “third wheel” with the kids. It’s like they are triplets, and Cricket thinks the kids are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Planning a wedding is a lot of work. Having planned two myself…plus my own, I know. The parents need a vacation as much as the happy couple does. After the wedding, Toni and Dave took a trip to Colorado for a concert at Red Rocks. They also went to Aspen at the beginning of fall. Toni and Dave love to travel and spend quality time together. They have such a great marriage, and it’s so sweet to see them together. They lead quiet peaceful lives, hiking, traveling, working, and enjoying their family. Life just doesn’t get any better than that. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Siara Olsen, has been through a year of changes, but now she is one year out, from some of the hardest things that have ever happened her…or to anyone, and her incredible strength is very much evident in who she has become. After losing her son, Alec on January 25, 2020, when he was just 3 months. Her marriage fell apart soon after, and life looked very bleak, but Siara is such an amazingly strong woman, and she wouldn’t give up. She knew that her son and all of her family, who love her very much would want her to keep going, so keep going she did.

The year that followed was a year of firsts. She met her boyfriend, Chris Kirk just over a year ago, and he has a birthday bond with her sweet Alec. About a year ago Siara got her own apartment, and she has been making it her own and is loving every minute of it. Siara has been at Platte Valley Bank for a while now, but she was given her own office about a year ago, and she really likes her new job and office. While the year began harsh for her, it ended with healing. Siara is a strong, independent, and faith-filled woman, and she makes her mom and the rest of the family very proud!! No matter what Siara is hit with, she picks herself up and moves forward every time. Her mom, Chantel Balcerzak says, “Well, I can’t even describe how proud that makes me!”

Siara is a strong woman of faith, and right after high school, she got a tattoo of her favorite scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13. That scripture have seen her through any and all bad times she has seen, because she not only believes this…she moves in it! She is truly inspirational!!

Siara and Chantel have been working out together at lunch to get in shape. Siara’s niece, Chantel’s granddaughter, Izabella Siara Harmon (named after her aunt) often joins them, and she loves the girl-time comradery…and the exercise doesn’t hurt anything either. The three of them are growing stronger every day and feeling great. It has been a hard year, but Siara is a strong woman, and I know that she will have victory in the coming year. Today is Siara’s birthday. Happy birthday Siara!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s always so interesting to watch a child grow up and begin to show the direction their heart is going to take them in life. Some kids take longer than others, trying to decide just what it is that holds their interest, but some, like my grandnephew, Ethan Hadlock, have a pretty good idea of what they want to do in life, at a very young age. Ethan has long been interested in becoming a gaming programmer, and as most of us know, that could become a very lucrative career. Most occupations that involve computers and programming are good career moves, but gaming is pretty much in a class by itself, because people love to be entertained and video games are one of the best ways to be entertained. If you have a mind for programming, you have the potential to go far in the tech industry.

While Ethan is great at programming games, he nevertheless, has a number of other interests. Ethan likes gardening, which is somewhat unusual for someone his age, but he has family members who love gardening too, so he has had some practice over the years. I think it’s his tendency an artistic person that makes him a good gardener. Gardening isn’t just about sticking a few plants in the dirt…I can do that, but I am no gardener. You have to love to nurture the plants, design the garden, and actually enjoy the process of gardening. Those are things that I really don’t enjoy, but Ethan really does, and that’s what makes him a great gardener, but gardening isn’t the only creative thing Ethan is interested in.

Ethan is in Art Club again this year. He has really enjoyed that in the past and could even have a career in that field if he chose, or maybe art will end up in his game programming career. His favorite class in school right now, is digital environment, and he won a class award for best photo shop. Photo shop is not an easy task. It’s good that the schools are starting that at a young age. Young minds can take in much information and absorb the techniques. There are careers in that type of work too, so I can see many avenues for Ethan, should he change his mind on game programming.

While his parents, Chelsea and Ryan Hadlock are finding it hard to believe that they officially have a teenager now, Ethan is not a typical 13-year-old boy either. He has received two “Positive Office Referrals” for being great in class and helping his peers. Ethan is such a sweet young man, who is very loving toward all who know him. He is helpful and kind to his sister, Aurora Hadlock. They are really good friends. There is so much to be proud od when it comes to Ethan. Today is Ethan’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Allen Beach has had a very busy year. Following his wife, Gaby’s graduation from nursing school, they decided to buy a house closer to Wyoming Medical Center, where they both now work. They quickly found the perfect house and moved in last March. They quickly set about getting settled and making the house their own. They’ve removed some trees in the back yard that we’re old and growing into power lines. They hope to build a garage in the back yard sometime in the near future, but for now they will most likely settle for a taller privacy fence.

Now that both of them have graduated from college, they have time for all the fun stuff. And speaking of fun stuff…Allen bought an old truck he’s been working on. It seems like most men have a dream of fixing up an old car or truck, and Allen is no different. That’s one way to have fun, but Disney World is another, so Allen and Gaby are planning a trip there in April. I’m sure that after a cold winter, a trip to sunny Florida would be really nice. Maybe they could pack me in their suitcase…if I promise to stay out of the way. No, probably not. Allen and Gaby also have two wonderful dogs, named Oly and Jasper. The dogs are truly their babies. They love playing with the dogs and the dogs love them.

They love to travel, but that has been curtailed these days. That is partly why this trip to Florida is such a big deal. After a wile of being locked down, it’s time to live a little. Allen and Gaby have traveled to many places all over the world, so being locked down is especially tough. Traveling to places like Bali or Japan, are more their style, but they are just places, and the real thing is being together. Allen and Gaby are best friends and have been since they first met, while they were both serving this great nation in the Navy. They both became corpsmen and knew that medicine would be their chosen field. While Gaby chose nursing, Allen chose hospital administration. Both of them are very good at their jobs, and Wyoming Medical Center is very blessed by their service. Today is Allen’s birthday. Happy birthday Allen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

On this, my mother, Collene Spencer’s birthday in Heaven, I am reminded of really, how wise she was, even though my sisters and I did not really realize just how wise she was. They say, “Laughter is the best medicine,” and indeed, the Bible says, “Laughter doeth good like a medicine.” My mother really tried to live that out. She would always remind us to “Keep of the Sunny side of life,” meaning to laugh at hardship and adversity, because you can get through almost anything if you can laugh at adversity. Sometimes, my sisters and I felt like laughter was far too simplistic for what we needed at any given time, but Mom was always full of laughter and song, and her life was really far smoother than ours ever were. For her life was simple. Follow God’s leading, and you will be just fine…and she always was.

Mom was first and foremost, a woman of God. If you were in her vicinity, you were going to hear about her Savior at some point in the conversation. Sometimes, when she would begin to talk, we…or at least I would begin to cringe, because I thought people would think she was crazy. I was always of the opinion that if God wanted a person saved, He would make it happen somehow, and it was not my job to help. Oh…how wrong that opinion is. The Bible talks about sending the “laborers” out to save the sinners, and I don’t know who I thought that was, but somehow, I didn’t think it was me…or my mom. Still, if not us, then who. A laborer had to be a human, of course, but did it have to be my mom…at a time in my life (the teenaged years), when her speaking out was going to embarrass me. Well, it did, and I had to deal with it, because she had a calling, and she loved her Lord so much that she was going to do what He asked. She saw it as her duty…and of course, it was.

Now, I am very proud of my mom’s accomplishments, in her Labors for the Lord, because when she went home to Heaven on February 22, 2015, I saw, at her funeral, a large crowd of people who knew and loved her, and many who felt like they owed their salvation to her work for the Lord. How could that be? She wasn’t a preacher, evangelist, missionary, or teacher. She was a laborer…just a laborer!! And yet, I know that when it came time to give her the crowns for leading others to the Lord…they were many. She would talk to anyone, anywhere, because she was a laborer for the Lord. Looking back, I am quite proud of my mom, her legacy, and her “almost embarrassing way” of laboring for the Lord, because now I can see that she was far wiser than I ever was. Today would have been my mom’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. Have a wonderful celebration. We love and miss you and Dad very much.

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