Meeting The World With Appreciation, Love and Friendship – Like Jose!



Happy Friday, y’all ….

I say that not so jovially today … because a close “friend” recently passed away … not close in proximity nor in constant contact after our college years, but close at heart over many years … since I was a teenager at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH.  You know, in our lives we meet people at impressionable ages … like the teen years … and often we bond with folks through “high pressure” situations like integrating an “all boys private Episcopalian boarding school” together and/or an Ivy League University that in its previous years, didn’t accept ethnic minorities (like us!) into its ranks as students … for various reasons.  These were the conditions under which I met and befriended Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire (RIP).  I want to keep this simple and sincere … and dedicate this piece to him and the friendship I was fortunate enough to have shared with him … and apparently … as were many many other people that he knew and loved … and who knew him and loved him, too!

When in those “pressure-type” environments, the bonds created by those years of “comradery” are usually unbreakable.  Jose and I had such a bond created after spending three years together at St. Paul’s, playing basketball together and figuring out how to survive in such an environment.  Some of you may have “heard” me write about St. Paul’s where I received an academic scholarship for three years and studied with Jose and other people like Kevin Gover, Larry Woody, Ed Shockley, Jose Maldonado, Kenny Williams and many many others (including Bobby Hipp, Mike Russell …RIP).  “Wiltshire”, as I had come to call him, has a kind spirit … and was always open to listening and becoming friends with others at St. Paul’s and Princeton where we both attended college!  He and I both loved the game of basketball as did all of the aforementioned schoolmates of ours as we sought to navigate our way through St. Paul’s, a feeder school for boys (and later girls who were first admitted to study at SPS while we were both there) who wanted to attend some of this nation’s most prestigious universities.  In speaking with one of the first “girls” on the phone last night who was admitted to SPS while we were there, Ms. Linda Fairchild, I learned that Jose and Linda were in a “French play” back then and rehearsed their lines together in the school’s auditorium at Memorial Hall!!  What a memory for Linda… and Jose!

Jose leaves behind a family, whom I never knew or met, and a bunch of friends in Arizona where he taught public school for the last years of his life.  They are planning several events honoring the life of Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire.  So, folks, don’t wait to tell someone that you care about them …. if you genuinely do … especially the way many of us cared about Jose … and Jose cared about us while we walked this planet together!  It is the “journey” indeed … and what we do with it that counts most.  For we all will be rewarded with the same destination … and rest in peace together.  Not too long ago, I came across … and posted a most appropriate message: “Why do we only  say rest in peace … why don’t we live in peace?!” … the way Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire demonstrated during his journey with us on Earth.  He had promised to come and see me in Ft. Lauderdale, as I struggled with some of my circumstances, so … I am now promising to see him … perhaps … in the “spirit world”!  I love you and miss you, my brother … and may your Creator welcome you Home!


John I. Cook, Director

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