Life on the Summit: Hey, Spike! provides a guy named Gary’s story
March 7, 2014
Interesting how things 50 years and two continents apart can bring about a subject for Hey, Spike!
It's with pleasure we introduce someone many — probably most — readers already know: Gary Lindstrom.
A colorful character he is indeed.
Gary's been a friend for decades and his reading a recent column about Jennifer David spending time "immersed" in France, coupled with a columnist anecdote, prompted Gary to write. And we exchanged a couple of tales.
Seems about the same time Spike! was serving — in the mid-'60s — with the U.S. Army in Toul and Nancy, Gary was often but a few "klicks" (kilometers) up the road at Toul-Rosières Air Base, in Jaillon, France.
Being in the Air Force had Gary here, there and everywhere.
"I was in the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing in Alconbury, England, in the early 1960s and we had a squadron at Toul-Rosières AFB," he recalls. "I would do TDY (temporary duty) there. We were part of NATO, so I also spent a lot of time in Paris and in Belgium. I was an air intelligence specialist.
"We flew RB-66 recon jets and we were in Africa and the Middle East a lot also," he writes. "I actually spent time at Wheelus AFB in Libya and Sidi Slimane in Morocco."
Being in the U.S. military in Europe, Spike! participated in memorial services all over the continent. It was part of the drill.
Same for Gary.
"My wing was in the Third Air Force and Eighth Air Force. In 1964, the 20th anniversary of D-Day, I was a tour guide throughout England, guiding WWII veterans and their families; lots of tears," he notes. "I was only 22, but 'tough guy' me broke down a lot and gave — and received — a ton of hugs. I also drove the bus taking them to the memorial cemeteries."
For Spike! it was marching in parades with French army compatriots in little villages like Toul, Epinal, Metz and Verdun, among others.
Oftentimes we took part in remembering the fallen soldiers at cemeteries, dotted with stark white crosses, all geographically choreographed to perfection.
Like Gary's, my tears flowed. Much later, in 2001, it was the same when Spike! and Mary traveled back to France, visiting those same locations.
Gary and Spike! are among the lucky ones who survived to come home from foreign service in one piece. Spike! says life's chance timing played a big part. Vietnam was barely even mentioned when he and Gary served.
Since then, Gary has been a Summit County deputy sheriff, chief investigator for 5th Judicial District Attorney Jack Healey and later the undersheriff, county director of public safety as well as county coroner for eight years.
Gary later served us as a county commissioner for nearly three terms. He was a Republican then. He later became a Democrat and was elected to two terms in the statehouse as a representative. And he's also been politically unaffiliated.
Today, at 71, Gary continues as an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver, teaching anthropology and sociology; on the Colorado Mountain College staff, teaching human communication; and in the Red Rocks Community College Department of Communication.
"I grew up in a small farming community in North Central Iowa, Rockwell City," Gary notes.
He has earned degrees from Fort Dodge Community College, Iowa Central College, Colorado Christian College, Colorado Christian University and the University of Northern Colorado.
Gary's been married to Lynne Williams Fernstrom Lindstrom (Lakewood High School '67 and sister of Anne Williams Drake) for 38 years. He has five children, eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Our friend Jon "Zeke" Zdechlik was recently diagnosed with cancer. To offset his medical expenses, a family-friendly fundraiser is set for Saturday, April 5, from 4-7 p.m., at the Frisco Adventure Park, where the former world-class XC skier is now the Nordic Center's general manager.
The event will include hors d' oeuvres and libations, musical entertainment, a great auction and complimentary access to the Frisco Adventure Park, including tubing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and scenic sleigh rides.
"Please join us in supporting Zeke and his family on their journey to recovery by donating an auction item and/or attending the event," urges longtime friend Claudia Kreamelmeyer.
To help out, give her a call at 668-5384.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org