|Richard Van Iten
I wish to honor Helga Tjarks Van Iten, Mary Michal Van Iten, Talkea Janssen Tjarks, Beverly Van Iten Boehner, Marilyn Van Iten Wehmhoefer, Maribele Van Iten Ruckman, Frieda Van Iten Penick, Mabel Martin Dankers, Barbara Peters Tjarks, and Lydia Friedrich Dick, ten (10) women who have greatly influenced my life.
The first, my wife, Helga Tjarks Van Iten, lived her first 16 years in a coastal city of Germany. This city was bombed countless times for it was a major submarine base. In 1952 Helga was forced to decide whether to come to the United States or remain in Germany in order to attend the Olympic Games at Helsinki, Finland. (She had won a Junior Olympic Athlete Award in track and field.) As the fates would have it, Helga came to this country - we married in 1957 and I am the better for it.
The second name is that of my mother, Mary Michal Van Iten, a marvelous, very basic human being. She raised 11 children with love, patience, and great courage. I am certain that I inherited from her my positive perspective on life.
My mother-in-law, Talkea Janssen Tjarks, the third woman named, was a magnificent person - she had many talents, but was obliged to live a constricted life by parents who could not fully appreciate how gifted she was. It was she who made my wife's family so good to join. Coming to the United States was something she made work and work well at that.
Beverly Van Iten Boehner, Marilyn Van Iten Wehmhoefer, Maribele Van Iten Ruckman, and Frieda Van Iten Penick, are my sisters, each one special in my life. Beverly always gave me help and encouragement and helped me be honest with myself. Marilyn is a "can do" human being who has great courage and stamina. The power of her earthy love is awesome indeed. Maribele is a born-again-Christian who has the ability to make even the most non-Christian feel born again. Throughout her life she has managed to exude an infectious enthusiasm for humans of all walks of life and all points of view. My youngest sister, Frieda, is a take-charge person with a perfect personality for the nursing profession. She, too, has a very natural authenticity about her ways which I have always greatly admired.
Mabel Martin Dankers is the dearest and most inspiring of all the really fine teachers I have had. She instilled in me a love and respect for poetry and literature, and she taught me to appreciate the power of good writing.
Barbara Peters Tjarks is my wife's paternal grandmother. We met when Helga and I were graduate students in Germany. This is a pure German peasant woman - strong of spirit and body, humorous and gentle. I shall never forget mid-morning tea on her farm and the happiness it gave her to have us with her.
Lydia Friedrich Dick was our landlord's wife during our stay in Heidelberg, Germany (1958 - 1959). She was a staunch opponent of Germany's WWII policies and had to endure life with a spouse of opposite leanings. Frau Dick became a second mother to Helga and me - we loved her dearly.
Submitted on 7/1/96
Helga Tjarks Van Iten
Mary Michal Van Iten
Talkea Janssen Tjarks
Beverly Van Iten Boehner
Marilyn Van Iten Wehmhoefer
Maribele Van Iten Ruckman
Frieda Van Iten Penick
Mabel Martin Dankers
Barbara Peters Tjarks
Lydia Friedrich Dick
Brick also lated at: H17