I think every family has that one aunt that's always a lot of fun. With no offense intended to my other aunts, Aunt Ada was that one for me.
There were a number of factors that led to my selection of Oklahoma State for college, but not least among them was that fact that I could be in the same town as my Uncle Don and Aunt Ada. They never had children of their own, but I think during my 4 1/2 years in Stillwater (and perhaps even after) they considered me their child. Being 7 hours from home, I had peace of mind knowing that if I needed anything at all I could go to them. Their door was always open for use as a laundromat or for a home cooked meal. The discussions of campus politics were always lively and fun. Aunt Ada had a unique perspective because not only were she and Don employed at the university, she was also a student, taking night classes to complete her degree (which she earned not too long after I earned mine).
Ada was orange and black to the bone. You can blame her for my OSU fixation. The weekend before I began my freshman year she went to the athletic department garage sale early in the morning to buy me a game worn OSU football jersey, which I still treasure to this day. I was proud to wear it around campus a few times, although I'm sure I fooled no one into thinking I was an actual player, all 150 pounds of me.
It has been well documented that Ada was almost single-handedly responsible for keeping Stillwater (and OSU) in the 405 telephone area code several years ago when the state had to add a new code due to the growth of cell phone usage. She took offense that OU in Norman would be allowed to stay in the 405 area code, while OSU in Stillwater was scheduled to move to the new code, an arbitrary change which would cost the university thousands of dollars in new letterhead, stationary, etc. Her campaign resulted in the lines being redrawn, and Stillwater remains in the 405 area code to this day. That's my Aunt Ada.
Don and Ada were excellent chefs. Alice and I always loved to eat at their place, knowing we would learn a new recipe to have at our own house in the future. We shared a love of cats. T.C. and Nikita were their latest. Their cats were always large – each one seemed to push the 20 pound barrier (some in the past exceeded). She felt right at home with Zorro.
Ada fought the battle with cancer the past two years, but kept her spunk and sense of humor until the end. After her mastectomy, when it was family picture time she would ask us which way we wanted her to turn, left or right, so the picture would be “with our without the boob” (her words). She had a good time wearing wigs, being able to change her hairstyle on a whim. No matter the circumstances, life was consistently fun and positive around Ada.
The cancer launched another attack this week, and we lost our dear Ada last night. I will miss her smile, her positive outlook, and her enthusiasm for life.
She was a giant of an Aunt.