Category Archives: commitment

Running for Dogcatcher

Campaign 2

Gary Wiram, PCO – Precinct 690

Have you ever heard someone slam a politician by saying, “He’s so unpopular he couldn’t even get elected Dogcatcher”? According to Wiktionary (not a source I’d trust for something more important), the usage of this phrase is summed up as follows:

“Dogcatcher is virtually never an elected office (only one elected dogcatcher office exists, in Duxbury, Vermont); the phrase is hyperbole, using dogcatcher to indicate ‘the most lowly conceivable office’.”


After considering that Wiktionary says Dogcatcher is virtually never an elected office, I’ve decided that the elective position I now hold has become the most lowly conceivable office – i.e. Precinct Committee Officer (PCO). If you don’t know, a voting precinct is a subdivision of either a city or county where each address in the area is assigned to a precinct and each precinct is then given a specific location for its residents to vote. Precinct sizes vary but the U. S. has an average of 1,100 voters per precinct, with each one having both a Democrat and a Republican PCO. These are unpaid elected positions meant to help the parties stay in touch with the thoughts and feelings of neighborhood residents. If a person files to run for PCO and they’re unopposed, their name doesn’t even appear on any ballot. Typically, if a person who files to run for PCO is unopposed, they are appointed to that position by their respective party. However, if more than one person files, each of their names appear on the ballots of voters living in the respective precinct.


Precinct 690

Precinct 690

Two years ago, the Chairman of the Clark County Washington Republican Party (CCRP) asked me to run for PCO in Precinct 690. I agreed to do so, with the understanding that I’d have limited time and energy to do the job. This year, due to my dismay over what has happened at the top of both party’s tickets, I came close to not filing for reelection. After further prayerful consideration, though, I decided that if I’m going to make any difference in getting my party and our country back on course, I needed to be willing to do my part. Interestingly, shortly after I did file, I learned that another person had also filed. That meant that, in my aim to make a difference, I’d have to start by campaigning. Although I won’t bore you with all the details of my campaign, I want to tell you about some of its key aspects and the ways in which I was blessed along the way. Continue reading


Filed under character, commitment, community, Local Politics, Making a Difference, politics, Presidents


My eulogy for my Mother, as read at her funeral.

When Jesus was asked “What is the greatest commandment?”, He answered, “Love God with everything you’ve got and show that by doing likewise with your fellow man.” Of course, that is a paraphrase but my Mother took it literally and quite seriously. I think it’s fair to say that love was her life’s theme.

Geraldine Elizabeth Ray Wiram August 12, 1919 - April 14, 2016

Geraldine Elizabeth Ray Wiram
August 12, 1919 – April 14, 2016


That was demonstrated from her beginning, in her birthplace, Greenville, IL. Her connection with family and friends that she knew prior to her family moving to Terre Haute, was something she always treasured. Of course, the most precious to her we’re those who went with her to Terre Haute; her Father E. K. Ray, her Mother Clara, her Sister Thelma and her Brother who died in infancy. Throughout her life, she looked forward to getting to know him in Heaven and now, she’s getting to do that.

The people I knew as Grandpa and Grandma Ray, Aunt Thelma and Mom started becoming part of their community through Grandpa’s job on the Pennsylvania Railroad, through neighborhood activities, through school activities, through service organizations and probably most important of all, through the Second Avenue Evangelical United Brethren Church. The relationships that were developed during that time are too numerous to mention but, as evidenced by some who are here even today, these were not passing acquaintances but loving relationships that Mom nurtured throughout her life.


I do want to mention two relationships that we’re of particular importance though. During that time, my Aunt Thelma met a handsome young man, named Bob McIndoo. For the sake of brevity, let me just say that I ended up knowing him as Uncle Bob. He was a man I truly admired and Mom loved him dearly, as she did Thelma’s and Bob’s children; my late Cousin Ron, my Cousin Janet Sue and my Cousin Jim. Since they have been a prolific bunch, that gave Mom In-laws, grandchildren and next generations of the same to love too.

The other particularly important relationship developed during that time involved another handsome young man named Chet Wiram. Although you won’t find his name in Mom’s obituary, he was of great importance in her life. His Dad worked on the Pennsy too, they lived in the same neighborhood, they went to the same schools and they were together in the youth group at Second Avenue EUB. There were 12 Wiram kids, 10 who survived childhood, so even if they had just become friends, that would have expanded Mom’s social circle exponentially. But, a romance blossomed and when he was 21 and she was 19, they married. Of course, that worked out to the benefit of many in this room today, including my Sister Nancy, our late Brother Dick and myself. Then, along with Mom, in addition to the Rays, the McIndoos and all those Wirams, there was us to love. Added to that we’re the Franzwas, the Sagraves, the D’Amicos and the Dillers, through a Son-in-law and three Daughters-in-law, who she loved as her own children. Since we have been a rather prolific bunch too, grandchildren and next generations were added to Mom’s circle of love through this too.


In my view, Mom’s love was most vividly demonstrated in her dedication to her Husband and her children. Shortly after Nancy was born, Dad joined the Navy and went off to WWII. About nine months after Mom visited Dad in his Southern California port, Dick came along. And, not long after the war ended, their baby boomer showed up … that’s me. All during that time, Mom’s love was the driving force, holding that young little family together. At the start of the next decade, though, Chet and Gerry’s marriage ended. Mom responded by pouring her life and love into her children. In the process, she found the job that would provide her living for the rest of her life. She became a Long Distance Telephone Operator. In the beginning, that meant working a split shift and riding the bus two round trips per day, so that she could see her kids off to school in the morning and be there when they came home in the afternoon. She recruited my Aunt Carolyn and several neighborhood ladies to stand in the gap for the times she couldn’t be there. My Sister joined in with that more and more, as she got older. I don’t think its an exaggeration to sum up this season of Mom’s life by saying, “No greater love has a woman than this, than to lay down her life for her family.” Continue reading


April 19, 2016 · 7:25 am

A Housewarming Gift In Heaven

Nancy Gary Dick Backyard


This past Friday morning, we got the news that my big brother had passed away overnight, near where he lived, in Alabama. When our big sister broke the news to our nearly 95-year-old mother, the words of comfort I offered her included: “Thank you for giving me as good of a big brother as a guy could ask for and thank you for pointing all your kids to Jesus.” My comfort during this time lies in knowing that that’s where my brother is now … at home in Heaven with Jesus. As a result, more than I would ordinarily, I’ve found myself considering what things are like in Heaven.

My Big BrotherChester Richard (Dick) Wiram is my big brother. Of course, there’s a lot I could tell you about him. If you’d like to know some of his biography, I recommend starting with his obituary, that appeared in our hometown newspaper. What I’d really like to tell you about, though, is a bit about the kind of guy he was and how he impacted my life.


When he passed away, Dick was close to 70 years old. I’m nearing 67 so that means Dick got the first three years of his time here on Earth to himself, without the responsibility of being my big brother. If he was still here with us, I expect that he would refer to that time as “the good old days”.

Isn’t that the way it is with brothers? You can say and do things with each other that you couldn’t get away with if it was anyone else. But, you can do so with your brother because it’s usually done in jest and because of the love you share. Dick was great at that. I told my wife, Ruth; it seemed that Dick had done that by taking our Dad’s wry sense of humor and developing it to a whole new level. Continue reading


Filed under character, commitment, Family, Heaven, Love, Making a Difference

The Talent of Marriage

Listen & TalkWhen my wife, Ruth and I married, we assured each other that we were truly committed to our “until death do us part” wedding vow. Specifically, we agreed that divorce is not an option in our marriage. Although it seems to me that this should be an important consideration for any couple preparing to marry, it was crucial for Ruth and I. In part, this was due to the fact that we both have had previous marriages. Additionally, we both came from homes with divorced parents. Having had an up close and intimate experience with the devastation divorce brought us, our parents, our children, our siblings and so many others; we wanted our relationship to have no part in contributing to that.


In addition to the waste that divorce had caused in our own lives, Ruth and I had a growing concern for the ruin throughout our society that has come from divorce. Relevant U.S. statistics* on this include:

  • Annually, there are about 2.1 million marriages and there are about 1 million divorces. The divorces impact more than 1 million children.
  • Each divorce costs our society an estimated $25,000 to $30,000. That means $25 to $30 billion in overall increased cost to our nation.
  • Children in single parent homes are:
    • Seven times more likely to live in poverty.
    • Nine times more likely to drop out of school.
    • More likely to have academic problems, behavior problems, be aggressive, have low self-esteem, feel depressed, and experiment with illegal drugs.
    • 70% more likely to be expelled or suspended from school.
    • Twenty times more likely to be in prison.
    • 25-30% more vulnerable to illness.
  • The negative impact of divorce on business includes:
    • Disrupting the productivity of a worker for up to three years.
    • During the first year following a divorce, the divorced employee loses an average of four weeks work.
    • Lost productivity, due to marriage and relationship difficulties, cost companies an estimated $6 billion.
    • Unhealthy marriages, family problems and divorce are major stressors. Stress related issues cost corporate America $300 billion annually.
    • Unhappily married couples were almost four times more likely to have a partner abusing alcohol. Individuals with alcohol related issues miss work 30% more.
  • Health issues affected by divorce include:
    • Married men live ten years longer than divorced men. Married women live four years longer than divorced women.
    • Divorced men are twice as likely to die of heart disease, stroke, hypertension or cancer; four times as apt to die in accidents; and eight times higher by murder.

* Sources include: U.S. Census Bureau, Marriage Commission Research, NY Institute for American Values, Marriage Savers, President Obama, Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce, A Cry Unheard and The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce.


In order to under gird our commitment to our “until death do us part”wedding vow, from early on in our marriage we have kept our eyes open for married couples activities and groups that we could join in. Our most significant find, during the first eight years of our marriage, was the Married Couples Fellowship at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (CCCM). It’s a wonderful group, headed up by Pastor John Mann and his wife, Rynner. We received far too many blessings through our involvement with this fellowship to recount here. One of our very favorites, though, was getting to go with the group on their annual week-long couples retreats to Kauai. Those retreats almost always coincided with our wedding anniversary. If you’d like to get a better sense of all this and have a good laugh, check out my related article, entitled Kayaking Up The Waialua. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under commitment, Marriage

21st Century Miracle Worker

Maryjane and Brandon Mellmer

Maryjane and Brandon Mellmer

I will probably always remember the look on Maryjane Mellmer’s face when we met. We were in the elementary school Structured Communication Class (SCC) where she serves as the Teacher. FYI – SCC is a Special Ed program for kids with autism. She was supporting the efforts of a Para-educator to physically control a fifth-grader who, obviously, didn’t have much self-control. I was there to start a three-week assignment as a substitute Para-educator. When my introduction included me saying, “I want you to know that I’ve never done this before … I don’t just mean that I’ve never subbed in this sort of classroom … I mean I’ve never worked as a sub in any classroom”, though she had a numb look on her face, through a forced but brave smile and with intentional enthusiasm, she said, “Well, OK!”

To my surprise and probably to Maryjane’s surprise too, we’re now in our fourth school year working together in that same classroom, Room 20. When I tell others about my experience in Room 20, I consistently tell them that I’m blessed every school day to get to work with 21st Century Miracle Workers. Of course, I recognize the exaggeration in saying that. The Miracle Worker is the story of Anne Sullivan, whose tutoring of the blind-and-deaf-from-infancy Helen Keller not only connected Keller with the world in order for her to have a decent life, it made it possible for her to have an exceptional life. Anne Sullivan was one of a kind. Miracle Workers like her don’t come along every day. With that said, I can’t think of a more fitting description for Maryjane. This past month, the school district where she works honored her with its Employee Excellence Award  and in doing so; they acknowledged her as the leader of a team of 21st Century Miracle Workers. In other words, they agreed with me. Considering these things, I want to tell you a little bit about how Maryjane came to her role as a Special Ed Teacher, along with some details of what she is achieving in that role.

Maryjane Mellmer (Third from left) - Excellence Award Presentation

Maryjane Mellmer (Third from left) – Excellence Award Presentation

Continue reading


Filed under Autism, commitment, community, Education, Making a Difference

Play Mean but Play Clean

dick-butkus-coverWhat comes to mind for you when you hear the name Dick Butkus? Immediately, I think along the lines of the caption on this Sports Illustrated cover … “Dick Butkus of the Bears – The most feared man in the game (NFL Football)”. No doubt, many others (especially those of my generation) share that same first thought. And, there’s ample justification for that line of thinking. The 6 ft 3 in, 245 lb Butkus, was known as one of the most feared and intimidating linebackers during his nine years as a player for the Chicago Bears.

Next, you may think of Dick Butkus as a celebrity endorser and actor. That’s my next thought too. And, here too, there’s plenty of good reason for thinking that way. The “most feared man in the game” persona of this Pro Football Hall of Fame member has been very effective in promoting brand names, from his Miller Lite commercials with Bubba Smith  to his “I’m sorry, Dick Butkus” spots for FedEx. And, Butkus has had numerous roles on TV and in the movies. He was even the namesake for Rocky’s English Mastiff, in both the Rocky and Rocky II movies.

So, if you met him today, wouldn’t you expect to meet a somewhat older version of the Dick Butkus you’ve come to know about over the years? That is, an imposing figure who still lives in his hometown, Chicago, whose time is mostly spent enjoying the leisure activities of retirement, along with some dabbling in the worlds of sports and entertainment. That’s what I thought when my Wife, Ruth and I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at a MarriageTeam Tailgate Party & Auction. I will say that the qualities I expected to find in his makeup all seemed to be present and undiminished. However, I also got to start becoming acquainted with some dimensions of the man that were a pleasant surprise. One of these is a campaign he started, called Play Clean™. It’s a program that encourages teens to “train hard, eat well, and play with attitude”, instead of resorting to illegal steroids. His willingness to take this stand against steroids caused USA Today to comment that Butkus may have a greater impact on the game in his 60s (now 70s) than he did playing in his 20s. Continue reading


Filed under character, commitment, community, Culture, entertainment, faith, Family, ideals, Love, Making a Difference, Marriage, society, Sports, Substance Abuse, values

Land Where The Fathers Hide


missingparentAccording to my Pastor, “…human relationships – particularly when united in fellowship with God – (are) the foundational building blocks … and the backbone of (our) local communities and culture.” I wholly agree with that and I’ve added to it by saying, “Without that foundation, secular goals – e.g. a thriving and stable economy, affordable quality healthcare, affordable quality education, justice for all, etc. – are unattainable. When communities and culture come apart, so do all things relying on the support of that foundation.

In another recent Teaching (from Matthew 19: 13-15), my Pastor touched on the dramatic deterioration our culture continues to experience with one of these “foundational building blocks”. This aspect of cultural devolution has been labeled “Fatherlessness”. Since this reality has significantly impacted my life, from near the beginning to the present day, raising the topic touches me deeply.

Before delving into this matter, first, I must issue a disclaimer. I am not fatherless in terms of not knowing who my father is nor that he had no presence in my life. Although I didn’t grow up in my Dad’s home, I knew him and I love him dearly. When he died, at the age of 56, I was devastated. With that said, when I was only three years old, he left my mother, making her a single-parent … a term that wasn’t even used in those days … and I, along with my older brother and sister, became what were then known as children of a broken home. Looking back over the decades since that event, I’ve recognized that a male role model and mentor has always been lacking in my life and I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been if that void had been filled.

My “broken home” experience began over six decades ago, around 1950 to 1951. In those days, I and my siblings were the only “children of a broken home” that I knew. Sadly, since then, this has worsened exponentially. According to an article entitled Father Absence and the Welfare of Children, by Sara McLanahan:

“Increases in divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing have dramatically altered the family life of American children. Whereas in the early 1960s, nearly 90 percent of all children lived with both of their biological parents until they reached adulthood, today less than half of children grow up with both natural parents. Nearly a third are born to unmarried parents, the majority of whom never live together, and another third are born to married parents who divorce before their child reaches adulthood. To further complicate matters, a substantial number of children are exposed to multiple marital disruptions and multiple father figures.”

WHAT HAPPENED?! Continue reading


Filed under Baby Boomers, commitment, community, Crime, Culture, economy, Education, Family, Fathers, Healthcare, Justice, Marriage, Substance Abuse