On this date, during “the Great Blizzard of 1942,” Ev Albers was born in Oliver County. Dakota Datebook probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Albers, because he, as executive director of the ND Humanities Council, made sure we received the necessary funding.
Albers grew up on a dairy farm near Hannover. His daughter Gretchen writes, “Always working hard, to earn what he considered the privilege of attending school, (my dad) graduated from Dickinson State College in 1966 before going on to receive an MA in English at Colorado State University, Fort Collins. As a young man, (he) was a Lutheran seminary student, a Peace Corps trainee, a medical student, an ROTC cadet (briefly), a construction worker, a long-term graduate student in the humanities – and always, always, a reader, a questioner, and a quester.”
Gretchen says her mother, Leslie Rae Kubik, was the love of Ev’s life; they married in 1975 and raised her and her brother, Albert, in Bismarck. Besides nurturing the Humanities Council into existence in 1973, Albers also founded a modern-day Chautauqua movement that focuses on first-person characterizations of historical writers and thinkers. Among these was – and still is – Clay Jenkinson, who portrays Thomas Jefferson in the popular radio program, “The Jefferson Hour.”
Ev was diagnosed with cancer in September 2002 and was given three months to live. Gretchen writes, “He lived and worked for another 18 months, while also writing daily, on-line journal entries in which he reflected on the people and experiences of his life, books and music, pie and the great humanities question of all time: ‘Where have we been, and where are we going?’ And also, is there sour cream raisin pie in the next life?”
In his first journal entry, Albers wrote: “I know what a young general physician trained at the (UND) School of Medicine suspected from the moment he lay eyes on me – I have a malignant tumor on my pancreas that is too large to remove right now – or, as the curious language of pancreatic cancer goes, I’m not a candidate for a whipple at the moment.”
Six months later he wrote: “In March 1956, I was far too busy memorizing Luther’s Small Catechism for confirmation on Palm Sunday, which fell on 25th of March, to be at all concerned about Beat Poets – our poetry was of the ilk of Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha. Confirmation back in 1956 was a grueling affair – after two years of special confirmation classes with the pastor... the class was lined up in gowns before the entire congregation and grilled for an hour or so – after which the 13- or 14-year-olds were blessed, given communion for the first time, and handed their own envelopes for making donations.”
Three days later, he wrote, “I’m quite happy to be alive today – which I wasn’t at all, yesterday morning, for the weest bit. I take the great changing weather of Dakota as an omen, this 28th day of March, the day I was born in the other great Bismarck health facility a block or two away from me. The snow came in earnest sixty-one years ago... I’ve decided that every time it snows on my birthday, I’m going to be around for another year – and because it rained and thundered, I’m not just going to be vegetating – I’m going to be working and writing and loving – in fact, I’ve decided that what I need is the weest bit more piss and vinegar in my life.”
A year later he wrote, “...I’ve made (it) to age sixty-two – at least a year beyond the time that I’m supposed to be ambulatory and reasonably alive here in this middle world... So I’m gonna play this day for all it’s worth – rather shamelessly, I fear – ain’t gonna move unless I feel like, gonna drift off to a nap whenever I wish, (and) read if I feel like it...”
Ev Albers died April 28, 2005.
Written by Merry Helm
Source: The Online Journal of Everett Charles Albers:Writings from September 2002 to April 2004, http://www.bedroombrain.com/evalbers/entry.asp?index=275