Steve Scholl was the first person to give me a job as a writer. I’m not sure if that’s something to commend or blame him for – but it pretty much saved my life back in 1975. I was living in Dillon, Colorado in the sleazy Red Buffalo Motel, working as a daytime cocktail waitress and slowly losing my mind, when I met Steve skiing at A-Basin on the 4th of July–and yes, there was still snow and obviously, plenty of beer. When he asked me what I did, for some reason I said, “I’m a writer” (my first public coming out!) and he said, “Oh, I just lost my editor. Do you want to come work for me?”
And that’s how I became the editor of The Mountain Guide –one of the most underpaid (I think I made $5,000/year), hilariously entertaining, preposterously loosey-goosey, and utterly enriching first jobs any writer could ask for. Steve was the publisher of the paper/magazine, and because he had the most extraordinary sense of humor, we had a wild cast of characters on board (Lee, Hank, Faye, Monie & Sam). For three years, I slept on Steve & Lee’s sofa in the Holiday Inn condos, because I was commuting/hitchhiking up to work from Denver where I lived with my boyfriend Eddie Pizzuti. It was bohemian, it was ridiculous, it was fantastic fun.
We called Steve “Captain Glacier” because he never exactly had a fire in his belly to get things done, but in retrospect, I think that was a supremely accurate term – because so much of what was wonderful and amazing about him was beneath the surface. Steve really only cared about people. He lived in the moment, he knew how to have fun and lots of it, and he was a totally chill guy – he didn’t sweat the small stuff, he didn’t even sweat the big stuff, like the fact we could never, ever pay our bills. He’d just go out, find some dumb hat to put on, buy some tequila, and come back and start a party. And the weird thing was, he was right –something always did come through to save us.
As good a salesman as he was, Steve didn’t give a rat’s ass about status or money or people of influence. He liked who he liked and he was ferociously loyal – if you were a friend of his, you were his friend for life. After the Mountain Guide finally went down in flames and we all had to (kinda) grow up, Steve went on to have a happy domestic life – marrying Diane, having his wonderful son Eric, and being a stay-at-home dad—and he didn’t worry about the male ego thing of that, either. He loved to cook, he loved teaching all the boys in the neighborhood how to ride bikes, ride skateboards, and hit a baseball. And he showed up at the important events in his friends’ lives – at my first wedding, my first divorce, my first housewarming, my first book signing.
So how sickeningly ironic that Steve would be diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s at age 58, on his and Diane’s 15th anniversary. He died (as most YO patients do) about four years later on October 2, 2008 – when Eric was just 15 – but as Diane told me, he never forgot who they were. Amazingly, he never forgot who any of his friends were, right to the very end.
So today, when people are singing, “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” I’m going to be thinking about my good friend Steve Scholl – who never forgot anybody – and who first believed that I could be a writer.
In Steve’s honor, my $100 today goes to AWARE an all-volunteer auxiliary of the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter which raises funds exclusively for research to find a cure for this disease which afflicts 5.3 million Americans – 500,000 of them younger onset like Steve. Click here to join me in remembering all of them on this day of Auld Lang Syne.
Speaking of which — today is my last day of blogging for What Gives 365. Thanks to all my readers—especially those faithful ones (you know who you are) who somehow managed to read every post, write me comments, and cheer me on every day of the year.
Thanks also to the people, causes and organizations that inspired me every single day to tell their amazing stories of kindness, compassion and love in action.
And a big shout-out to my darling husband whom I pretty much abandoned, as I stayed up on the third floor, hour after hour, doing my obsessive writing, researching and interviewing.
Finally – jeez, I feel like Miss America! –you can catch me on CNN tomorrow morning at 10 am! My final stab of glory!!
A final note: I’m not taking down the blog – I’ll probably keep writing randomly and who knows? I may even keep giving money away….
I met Steve after he was diagnosed, but I wish I knew him, he sounds like he wasa great person, I am friends with his son Eric though, and see him and Diane all the time and they are like my family.
This was a great story and tribute to Steve. You are an amazing person – please keep blogging!! I am going to check out your CNN interview. Thanks for all you do.
I LOVE your blog, too — so it’s a mutual admiration society!! I’m going to keep going…just not every day (phew!). BUT you can see my CNN interview under the “Press” button on my masthead… Thanks so much for commenting – and CONGRATS on your new arrival scheduled for 2011 — wow!!!
Hi Betty –
Thank you for your story on Steve – I loved reading it although I did not know Steve. It brought back lots of memories of the 70s, youth and wonderful fun! Also thank you for your kind donation to AWARE, we certainly need it to keep the research going if we are ever to stop Alzheimer’s disease.
You are the best,
ps I met you during your visit to Denver several years ago. I am a close friend of Kathy’s.
Thank you for all that you have done. Bringing awareness to causes and movements that would otherwise go unnoticed by the world.
Whenwe met at the Dunwoody Community Garden, I knew that you were a very special lady. The passion beamed from your soul.
Thank you for making our little cause part of this magnificent undertaking.
Wishing you and your family and all the lives that you have touched, a very Happy New Year.
aahhh Betty – another one to make us cry. Steve sounds like such a great guy – and like he might take to greeting souls at the pearly gates with a grin and a cocktail (which is good to know). He was obviously one of those truly brilliant people that God couldn’t bear to be parted from for one second longer. And let’s not forget those amazing Alzheimer volunteer workers, who do an incredible job for nothing but the love of humankind – thanks for reminding us of those unsung heroes who work away so quietly and with such dedication.
I have loved getting to hear of some of the amazing people in your life, as well as the truly wondrous people you have found all around the globe. You’ve restored our faith in humanity and taken us all on a wild roller-coaster ride, lurching from horrors to wondrous rescues on a daily basis. Never have those writing skills and that passion for justice been put to better use. I know it must have been darned hard work, as well as an extraordinary time for you, but we’ve all been enlightened and had a hell of a ride – so thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re a star xoxo
Sarah– my sweet friend and inspiration … LOVE you to the moon! Happy New Year and thanks for writing!!!
Betty, Thank you so much for the information you have given us all this year. I have learned so much, and will remember these items and look back at them when I am giving. Thanks! Charmaine
I have enjoyed getting to know you and all that inspires you! I only wish our journey had started sooner…I will be spending quite a bit of 2011 catching up from your blog posts pre-dating when we met over Beads of Courage. You are truly inspiring and a gifted writer.
All the best for a great New Year!
LOVE YOUR BLOG! And I’m sorry I’m late to the year-long event. I saw your interview on CNN (well done!) and will enjoy reading about your year of giving; I look forward to more ideas of how to give back, pay it forward and otherwise invest in who/what is important. You’re inspiring.
I just heard about you today on your CNN appearance and all the good work you have been doing. I guess this is both my first and last time reading your blog! Sorry I have missed it all. But you will probably end up being a sermon illustration! 😉 I hope you will leave the archives up so we latecomers can meander through them. Thanks for being human. and humane.
Can you give me some money? I need it plz 🙂
I saw you on CNN today. Loved your story. I’ve never followed a blog before. Too bad I just found you today. Your story was very inspiring. Now I’m wanting to develop my own family’s version of “Whatgives”!
P.S. Please do leave the blog up! I hope to read more throughout this year.
Betty, thanks for the daily reminder of how many people are working creatively and hard to make this planet a better place for all of us to live. Your voice is fresh, honest and sometimes irreverent…your heart is huge and your mind quick and discerning. Thanks for shining your light on so much goodness and pain this year and pulling out your credit card every day to put teeth behind your words. Happy New Year!
Betty, you have been a ray of sunshine on some dark days. It has been enjoyable, heartbreaking yet always inspiring to read your blogs. Please don’t stop!!
Thank you for a year of smiles, of seeing the positive things going on around the world, of seeing good people doing good things!
I came here from the CNN piece and, while I don’t have time to read all the days now, I have definitely bookmarked the site for future (backward) reading. I think that ‘micro-giving’ is like micro-financing – from a small seed a garden grows; I’m eager to see where you’ve planted.
Tears. Tears of joy. Tears of sadness. Tears of gratitude. Tears of respect.
I can’t wait to read about what becomes of some of the 100 dollar donations you sent out into the world, Betty. And I can’t wait to see what the world has in store next for YOU.
Big congrats. I am so glad to have met you during this journey.
I will greatly miss reading this blog (almost) everyday. Thank you so very much!
I will truly miss my daily dose of social consciousness, Betty. You have informed me of so many worthy groups. I am so glad I will be hearing from you occasionally in the future.
ahhhh, dear Betty… I have not been looking forward to 12/31 and the end of your 365 days. Many days your postings have been a part of my morning. Several times a week I seem to weep, cheer, and be inspired to be a contributing piece of this amazing remarkable chaotic humanity. I have forwarded your postings to more people than any other email listing I subscribe to. I am amazed at the range and diversity of people and organizations you have profiled – the stories have touched my life and opened my heart. I stand in great respect with clapping hands and lively cheering, than a slight bow and hands in nameste. Well done! Thank you thank you for all the time, energy, creativity, sacrifices it took to pull this off. I am thrilled you will still post at times.. I would love to see this be a book… a documentary !!!!… warm blessings for a special new year! Corinne
I was late in discovering What Gives 365, and have enjoyed every day of it since subscribing. Betty, thanks of all you have done to spotlight incredible people working to make the world a better place.
Hopefully the archives will still be available for those of us who would like to go back and explore what we missed.
Thank you, thank you, thank you…
and Happy Healthy New Year to you and all around you.
This last post brought my dad to me – he died in June with dementia – but no longer knew where he was but he never forgot faces and names. People and your relationship to them – that’s what it’s all about.
My email address awaits whatever crumbs you send us in the future 🙂
Dear Betty, Thank You So Much for being such an awesome person and inspiration! Words can’t fully express how much you have done not only for “The Depot”, but for all of the other causes you helped through your WhatGives365 blog. We share your story with others and they become inspired as well! You have planted so many beautiful seeds and we truly appreciate all of your wonderful work. It has been an honor and a privilege “meeting” you and hope to get to Georgia someday! Wishing you and your family a most wonderful and prosperous 2011! Hugs to you from SoCal!
You have inspired me with your giving. I read your blog every day and star the ones I like. I had to give away money my mother had in a Schwab charitable trust and I used several of your charities and Charity Navigator…..I never give to a charity where the head honcho is getting more than $150K (which is either the median or the average at CN) and you’d be surprised, maybe mortified how many of these do gooders do.
Did you see Michael Moore’s list of 6? or should I forward it to you?
What have you written and published (besides the “San Juan Horseshoe” or whatever it was called)? We’re in Telluride, Colorado so maybe we understand………a little.
Kudos from one MLB to another!! Betty, I learned so much from you, about you and with you – it’s been amazing!
Here’s to a Marvelous New Year for all – recipients & readers!!
Dear Betty, thank you for all of your blog entries! I live in Germany and clicked you every day of this crazy year! It was amazing what you taught me as a reader and inspired me to do! This year I was in Kenya to see the elephants. Do you remember posting the sheldrick foundation article? Yeah, .. guess what ! thanks a lot! Thanks for posting the article with the Dlight project. My family in Kenya recieved some solar lamps! And thank you posting articles with good ideas: a childrens home in Mikindani now has a library (my luggage was totaly overweight)…
Thank you for changing my life. Happy new year.
PS: please don’t stop
Betty, it is not surprsing that so many people will miss your posts. Each day you brought us not only examples of the hardship and difficulties faced by people around the world, but more importantly, their struggles against those hardships and resulting achievements. For me your posts were indicative of our common humanity, its altruism, courage and strength — surely the proof that we are slowly building a better world.
(If you can let me know what show on CNN please do since I am in Mexico right now and the times here may be different. Thanks, Augusta)
Buon Anno to you, mio amica! It has been an inspiring education for us all, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have saved my favorites, wish I had had a better $year so I could give more. But I shall…
Let’s get together with Jimmy soon, and much more often.
Sandra and Jim
Thanks for sharing in so many ways this year!
Happy New Year!
bbbetty — you did it! (not that we ever doubted you would!) you are the truest, bestest kind of inspiration. long may you write and bring us stories of the good people of our world. CNN sounds marvy — will you invite me to be on YOUR TV show, which is surely coming soon??? much blogsisterhood love, julia
And from someone who knew you WAY before you became famous and knew and loved your parents, Betty, you sure made THEM proud. Congratulations on an amazing effort.
Betty you, and your amazing blog are the best things that happened to me this year. We your readers are all revved up, re-inspired, re-awakened because of what we’ve learned here – as you can see by all the lovely comments before me.
You saved your final post for your friend! I too have a friend with early onset Alzheimer’s and well, life can be so unfair sometimes…
CNN tomorrow… I look forward to continuing the journey vicariously with you.
I’m sure your parents must be watching down on you and feeling much pride at what you did with your inheritance.
Betty – you’ve gone out on a real high note – as usual – tears as I’m reading this one – I will try and remember to tune in tomorrow – but I do hope you keep writing – maybe updating us on some the earlier posts? I know I will really miss the daily jolts of optimism, ingenuity and the better parts of the human spirit. Happy new year to all of you – take care!
Betty, you really added something to my life in 2010 and I will miss your posts in the new year. But I know you will be on to a new adventure, and I will be eager to follow that as well. Thanks for putting a spotlight on my favorite nonprofit, The Alliance for American Quilts, and for introducing me to so many great causes and inspiring people. Happy New Year!!!!!
I am so grateful for your project, Betty. I looked forward to your posts every single day. You have expanded hearts and minds across the world with your sharp, honest, accessible writing style and generous nature. Thank you for a fantastic year! Jody Andrade
Betty – What a lovely New Year’s Eve remembrance of Steve Scholl. As I read (though tears and smiles) your wonderful Steve stories, it made me realize again what a cruel disease is Alzheimer’s, robbing so many of cherished memories. On behalf of AWARE, thank you for your donation.
On behalf of myself, thank you for YOU and What Gives 365. You’ve done an amazing job; I am so proud of you.
Thank you Betty for an amazing year!!!
Awesome Betty! I’m proud of you, and grateful to know you!
What an amazing year you created for all of us! A million hugs for all the warmth and inspiration you generated. And I hope your CNN outfit is an easier choice than the Martha Stewart outfit.
What an inspiration you have been and will continue to be! I’m especially sentimental today and pretty much in love with Steve and how his wonderful memory is living on. I have enjoyed learning about so many wonderful people and causes through your writing! Happy New Year!
You’ve made in cry again for so many reasons- your wonderful story about Steve, the fact that this is your last post, and because I am so proud of you in pointing your readers towards so many deserving people and causes. And now CNN!
Have a wonderful New Year.
Dear Alice — You were such a great, faithful and insightful reader!!! Thank you so much for all your support — and I hope Casita Linda continues to do all its wonderful work ….
Love & Happy New Year!!!!
Betty Londergan 2702 Mabry Rd. NE Atlanta, GA 30319 (610-348-9279) https://whatgives365.wordpress.com
Thanks for year of great entertaining, inspiring and often tear jerking stories! So glad to hear you’ll continue writing! I will look for you tomorrow on CNN! Happy New Year!
I see withdrawal in my future – what will I read if not your daily blog. It has been inspiring, informative, heart-warming and entertaining. Thanks for all your efforts for us readers and for those who benefited.
Happy New Year
What an amazing year, Betty! and this final story is so warm and funny and sad…like so much of what you’ve shared. Your voice will be missed, and your contribution will have a lasting effect on all your readers and those who’ve been blessed to be recognized and rewarded by you. I can’t believe it is over!
Betty – It’s been a wonderful year. You’ve done a wonderful thing, bringing to us all of these amazing organizations and people working on projects to make the world a little bit better place to be. Your last post brought tears to my eyes but then, many of them tugged at me in an emotional way. I’m pleased to hear that your aren’t taking the blog down. I need it! I’ve talked about your giving project to many people and forwarded your blog link all over the place. Happy New Year, to you and all you have touched. Judy
I’ve enjoyed your posts. When you called us to find out about Amman Imman: Water is Life and write about our work, you introduced me to a world of people and organizations doing amazing things. Your humor, style, and natural writing has made giving fun for 365 days, and will keep giving. I’ll keep listening!
O frabjous day, it is not the end!
Thank you for opening lots of eyes and hearts.
Your daily blog was truly amazing. I enjoyed reading them each day (except Sunday after the first week). It was a wonderful tribute to your father and a great discovery for me. Thank you so much.
Oh! how I am going to miss these missives of encouragement and positive news. So many of my days were brightened knowing how many good people are about us doing such good things. Thank you, Betty and a very wonderful 2011 to you and your family!
this blog has been a highlight of my year — a constant source of inspiration and hope and admiration for those who just put on their boots to make a difference. It has also been a constant reminder that I, too, can do SOMETHING. Many of these stories will stick with me for years and years. I only wish that I had enough money to fund a second year of daily giving!
I’m glad to hear the blog will still be available to read, and re-read. I have no doubt that you’ll keep writing, but I doubt very much that the CNN appearance will be your final stab of glory. What an amazing thing you’ve accomplished with this blog. I’m sure your friend Steve would be very proud. And as happy as he must feel to be getting you back, your husband must be equally proud.
Happy New Year, Betty!
Betty, I surely will miss your daily posts! You are an inspiration to all! Thank you for acknowledging our animal rescue efforts. XO, Karen