|CONNIE NAUMANN LUHTA 3-26-2020 ON HER 90TH BIRTHDAY|
|CONNIE (RIGHT) AND ROSE... 1965 , OAKES FIELD, NASSAU BAHAMAS|
Happy birthday to you, Connie Naumann Luhta, my friend and good neighbor." We might have been just passing acquaintances were it not for a wonderful curmudgeonly character, the businessman/owner of Lake County Oil--Karl Naumann, your father!
One day in the early 1960s, your father stopped at my desk at the Painesville Telegraph, and we talked about YOU. He confessed that it bothered him that the rigid rules of newspaper style in those days meant that every time his daughter's name appeared in an article, the family name Naumann was deleted from your name; it could only be your first name and your married name.
"I'd be proud for the readers to know whose kid she is," he admitted, and I understood. (Since I proof-read my own articles, I was sometimes able to sneak that Naumann name in as her middle name; that was enough to please a proud Papa Naumann.)
I had not personally met you then, Connie, but I knew who you were. Well known already as a senior research chemist at Standard Oil in Cleveland, you were also a skilled and active aviatrix. You were devoted to general aviation; and a popular speaker all over the region and beyond. You were the lady who liked to tell people, "If I can learn to fly, you can too."
I fell in love with small-plane flying myself through the trip your father chartered to
watch you race airplanes in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. That morning he called and invited my Bob and me with to be with the small cheering-section flying with him to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. That blue-sky trip to the race won me over and soon led me into my own flying lessons.
The Mt. Pleasant event was a proficiency race. I packed up my newspaper notebooks and pens and big Crown Graphic camera; I knew you were a story worth covering, and that feature did fill the center section of the Telegraph's weekend supplement. But the best part of it was, it was the start of a long, special friendship.
If I was impressed by your capabilities, skills and intelligence, Connie, so were the tribal elders from the Mt. Pleasant Chippewa Reservation, who witnessed the race. That day they would honor you in a solemn tribal ceremony to make you "one of their tribe forever." From there on, your name to them would be "Cloud Woman."
Our friendship evolved quickly when I began my flying lessons at Concord Airpark; your home base. You were fun; you were kind; you were helpful; and we loved working together in Concord Airpark's social club, the Skylarks.
We helped to plan picnics, potlucks, dances, airshows, etc for pilots and families and miscellaneous friends of the Airpark. We enjoyed some flying adventures together; and like pilots and all who spent time at that grand local Airpark, we still think of those years as the "golden years" of that special place ...
In those years, the Airpark was enjoyed by the neighborhood too, and people were welcome there to gather and chat; watch planes take off and land; listen to old pilots engaging in a favorite pursuit we called "hangar-flying" ...
Adolph J. Luhta, Airpark owner/operator/manager and good friend to all of us, became the love of your life. You were married 25 years when he passed away, and all these years later you sometimes tell me he still seems to sit on your shoulder to give his advice and share his opinions, as he always did.
You became a part of my life and my family and my personal history. Your daughter Kathy and my third son Kevin were babies together; my mother-in-law was a frequent babysitter for Kathy, and our kids often played together. We watched each other's families grow up.
We both shared an enduring devotion to our community of Concord Township, sometimes pursuing that dedication in individual ways, and sometimes together.
You were new to politics, Connie, when you first ran for trustee; I knew you did not venture into it FOR political reasons but because you thought you could do good things for Concord.
I remember during that first campaign; you'd drive by my house, and I'd be mowing my lawn, and you'd pull in "just for a moment." We'd end up in long conversation together--you sitting casually on the grass and me still perched on my tractor.
You didn't win that first time around, or the second, but you didn't give up. It took a few tries, and when you succeeded and the people saw what you could do and how much you cared, they elected you over and over again. Until, just short of this birthday, when you chose your own time and retired but did not disappear. (Now you have more time to BE "Around Town" with me).
Over the years, I've watched your accomplishments and awards pile up--too many to count in this spontaneous writing I began as a "small" birthday greeting. You didn't seek the awards; they came because you deserved them, and they never went to your head.
Now it's another landmark birthday for you, and I have to say: If the Chippewas saw you as "Cloud Woman," your friends and fans have seen you as "Evergreen." You never seemed to grow older.
The name's still appropriate on this 90th birthday. And we are still friends; more like sisters.
Over the years, you have truly and unfailingly been a good friend to your community too. And I and your friends and your fans all wish you more years among us! If we can keep up with you!