175. Birthday Cousins

Today is the birthday of two of my kin from out West.

Let’s start with my tall Texan great nephew, Bennett Ford.  He’s the son of my nephew Jeffrey who’s the son of Robert and Arlis Ford. (Is this beginning to sound like the Book of Genesis?)

Bennett is 27 years old today, and in order for his faraway cousins to get a frame of reference on him, he shares his birth year of 1984 with my great niece, Elizabeth Fitzpatrick Bush.  Elizabeth is the daughter of my nephew Tim  Fitzpatrick who’s the son of Tom and my sister, Joan Fitzpatrick.  (More about the beautiful Elizabeth on her birthday in September. Yet another chapter from Genesis.)

Bennett is studying for his Master’s degree in engineering.  I find that interesting because most of Bob and Arlis’s progeny have gone into law, medicine, or the arts.  Their son David and now their grandson Bennett took a different path into the mechanical and engineering world.   Curious, I mentioned that to Arlis and she told me that her dad, Louis Kirsch, had been a master mechanic.  During his career, he introduced the first tractors – the Harr-Parr tractors – into Europe.  Once placed in countries like Belgium, Austria and Yugoslavia, Louis helped train for their use and troubleshoot their maintenance.  Many of these tractors still survive today. (They don’t make things like they used to.)  This one built in 1920, resides today in a museum in Serbia, but it had been found in Yugoslavia.  It may have been “planted” there by Bennett’s great grandfather.

When Bennett was in grade school, he started a little business making cookies and selling them in his dad’s office, but his interest soon turned to building a different kind of product.  Bennett had an early interest in building things.  As soon as he took a class in welding, he started scrounging construction sites for recyclable parts and supplies and started building exercise equipment. I am going to start using telepathy on him to urge him to try to turn some of this latent talent into robotics.  I’m counting on having a household robot in my future.

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Bennett got married on August 6, 2006 to a beauty named Lauren Smith.  They live in Austin, Texas.  Lauren is a fashion stylist and the editor of Austin’s arts and culture magazine called “Tribeza”.

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And now to Colorado for the other birthday baby, my great niece-in-law, Rebecca Marissa Milner (nee Grainger).  Rebecca was born on February 28, 1979.  She managed to stay out of trouble until November 10, 2002, at which time she was married to my great-nephew Corey Milner.  The marriage took place during a Colorado blizzard and things have never really calmed down since. Milner households are teeming with energy but Rebecca seems to have fit right in.

Again, for the benefit of her cousins-in-law who live in a distant planet from Colorado, here is my great-niece Katie Fitzpatrick who shares Rebecca’s birth year.  Now are you ready for this?  Katie is the sister of Elizabeth pictured above. They are both daughters of my nephew Tim, and granddaughters of  my brother-in-law Tom and sister Joan Fitzpatrick.  Kevin Bacon must figure in this somewhere, but if you have been able to follow along this far, congratulations.

Rebecca’s mother-in-law – my niece Chris – has enslaved me for life by sending me treasures and goldmines of information and photos when I need it.  She also enlisted Rebecca’s mom, Joanne to pitch in and the following notes are due to their mercy and kindness in my hour of need. (Otherwise, I would have had to miss watching 5 hours of the Academy Awards.)

Email notes from Chris and Joanne follow:
In her role as BSCS master teacher Rebecca ‘starred’ in a training video used to train teachers in the art of inquiry science methods.  She was later selected to serve on a panel of experts with a former U.S. Surgeon General and a current Harvard professor.

Although Rebecca is currently nationally recognized as the BSCS master teacher of inquiry science, at one time earlier in her career at Sierra High School she  was nominated to be Colorado’s Sexiest Teacher. A local radio station hosted the contest, votes were logged online and the nominees were required to be available by phone. Since Rebecca’s school does not allow phones to be on during the course of the school day she was edged out by a teacher in Denver – coincidentally named Ms. Sexee.

Always an advocate for students, Rebecca worked with her alma mater, Colorado College, to establish a mentor program to recruit promising students at Sierra High School.  Which explains why the district has chosen her for the honor of “Distinguished Teacher” for two years in a row.

Coach Grainger has a knack for keeping her newest girls’ soccer players guessing when she ‘huddles’ with Assistant Coach Milner.  “She’s married to YOU?” one disappointed player asked!

Aunt Rebecca has gone out of her way to make her home with Corey an appealing place to her 5 nieces and nephews. Jake and Ruby visit from their home in Utah, (soon to become Oregon) and Milo, Esme and Isla from London and their 6 godchildren from here, there and everywhere.  Her former office has now become a cozy place for the kiddos to stay with fun, comfy chairs that convert to single beds, kid friendly sleeping bags and bedding, and a collection of children’s books, games and toys.

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One of the reasons Rebecca is so tolerant of her students is that her own Senior High School class has gone down in the annals of Arapahoe HS for being the most mischievous and she was right there on the planning committee.  2 of the most memorable incidents are :

1. setting loose mating turkeys in the hallway
2. orchestrating simultaneous school-wide alarms from remote locations

Rebecca is by far the funniest of all the Graingerettes.  Many times when
shopping with her mom, Joanne wished she’d had on Depends.

Sounds like a girl after my own heart.
Happy birthday,  Rebecca and Bennett!   Live long and prosper!


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One Response to 175. Birthday Cousins

  1. in the know says:

    Speaking as someone “in the know” the story of the turkeys wasn’t as cool in actuality as it sounds. The turkeys were actually transported in boxes, and the two people who brought the boxes into the school (while Rebecca stayed in the car) fumbled the job, and ended up just putting the boxes with the turkeys in them in the school, so they were never truly “loose”. It turns out the turkeys weren’t as active as the two people thought they would be, and they just stayed in the boxes where less than a minute later someone calmly collected them.

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