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Norm and Beverly Schippers

Norm and Beverly Schippers

Katrina cleanup proves therapeutic for grieving Placitas couple

—TY BELKNAP
Norm and Beverly Schippers, of Placitas, had considered traveling to the Gulf Coast to help out after Hurricane Katrina. Like a lot of people, they were discouraged by red tape and lack of response from the leading relief agencies. They put their plans on hold when the Red Cross put them on hold.

Then, in October, tragedy struck closer to home, when their daughter and son-in-law were killed in a traffic accident on a lonely stretch of US 550 while returning from a Valley High School football game. Their grandson, a star player, was critically injured.

There was a tremendous outpouring of support from the Valley community at the time, but afterward, the Schippers had to find ways to deal with the loss on their own. “We just got so depressed and angry that we weren’t doing anybody any good—least of all ourselves,” said Norm. They tried again to find a way to help out with the Katrina recovery effort—the Red Cross and other agencies couldn’t seem to offer any direction other than where to send money.

“We decided to just go down there and knock on doors if that’s what it took to offer our help. So we hitched up our travel trailer and headed for the coast. At a tourist center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, we found out about an organization called Hands On USA, and they put us to work right away,” said Norm.

The Schippers parked their trailer behind a church in Biloxi for the next three weeks and joined fifty to seventy other volunteers who, like themselves, just showed up to help. They removed downed trees, gutted houses, cleaned beaches, tutored schoolkids—whatever was needed. Norm made the most of his mechanical skills repairing chain saws and generators. They even took care of lost pets at the humane society.

Beverly said, “They discouraged seniors from taking part in the de-molding operations because of the health risks, but the younger volunteers were very enthusiastic about taking on that kind of hard work. They’d work hard all day and sometimes party just as hard into the night. Hands On provided us with groceries, but meal preparation was up to us.”

Hands On volunteers included people from all walks of life—students on break, a pilot in between flights, a retired dentist, and a corporate lawyer.

The Schippers’ photographs of the devastated coastline show that even a year and a half after the storm there is still a lot of work to do. (For more information about Hands On, visit www.handsonusa.org.)

After the three weeks in Biloxi, Norm and Beverly moved on to New Orleans, where things were even worse. For two weeks, they stayed and worked at the sister church of their own Las Placitas Presbyterian Church.

Back home now, the Schippers say the experience helped them in their grieving process. Norm said, “It was helpful to do some good work and help people. I’m not so depressed and angry any more.”

Beverly agreed. “It was good therapy. People were just so appreciative of the volunteers. They came out to thank us and give us a hug.”

Norm and Beverly hope to return to New Orleans later in the spring with other members of their church.


Madeline Randle as a young girl

The artist as a young girl

Quilting, oil painting, by Madeline Randle

Madeline Randle’s contribution to community, arts was considerable

—JACKIE ERICKSEN
Madeline Randle, a well-known artist and longtime Placitas resident, passed away on March 6, 2006. She was eighty-two.

A first-generation American, Madeline was born in Aztec, New Mexico, and was raised from age nine, after the death of her father, by her mother and uncle. She was valedictorian of her high-school class, and attended New Mexico State University, where she met her future husband, George. They were married in 1943, when George was on a two-week leave before going off to war for three years. It was a different era; Madeline was required to obtain George's permission before being allowed to reenter school!

The Randles were posted to Oklahoma, but Madeline returned to New Mexico when George was called to Korea. When George subsequently went to work for Sandia Corporation, Madeline fell in love with Placitas. In 1960, the Randles bought an old adobe house in the village which once housed the community jail, a cellar underneath what became their kitchen. This interesting bit of history was unearthed when the floor sank three inches! The family had four children: daughters Dianne and Adrienne, and sons Laurence and Joseph, an orphan adopted from Korea. They ran a small farm and dairy, had many fruit trees, and raised champion goats.

Madeline taught high-school mathematics in the Albuquerque Public School system. She was fired when she became pregnant with Adrienne (how times have changed!) and upon returning was forced to recertify in science, and taught chemistry.

Madeline and George retired in 1983, after Madeline was diagnosed with a blood cancer. They moved to Saudi Arabia for five years, where George did some engineering work, and traveled all over the world from that base before returning to Placitas. Madeline began painting, first in water color, then in oils, and ultimately found her own in pastels, which she showed widely in the Albuquerque area.

She was the driving force behind the very successful visual-arts program of the Placitas Artists Series and served on its board of directors for many years. She also was active in the Jardineros Garden Club and the community library.

With a strong will, an independent spirit, and a work ethic that didn't allow for minor distractions like cancer, Madeline Randle lived a long and productive life before being broadsided by acute leukemia.

She will be missed in the village of Placitas.

 

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