As the Mesa MLK Celebration Committee prepares to unfold five wonderful events this weekend for the East Valley to reflect on the life, legacy and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our hearts are filled and plates aren't as full.
We'll be without three members who have passed on to glory. I can still see their smiling faces during last year's activities. The Mesa MLK Committee will honor them and their families at the Mesa MLK dinner 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14 at Mesa Community College. Keynote speaker will be Channel 12 news anchor Kim Covington. Tickets are $45 per person and $360 for table of eight. Tickets are available at the door and also through PayPal at www.mesamlk.org.
Mrs. Ellen Pence was the City of Mesa's spokeswoman and assistant to the city manager who join the committee in 1996 when we fought for the holiday passage. She could charm a hungry bear out of banana pudding with that Georgia drawl and southern hospitality that reminds me of the cooking queen Paula Dean. I knew once she got on board those sitting on the fence about the holiday were in trouble once she had a word or two with them, always calling people "Darling." We'll miss our "Southern Comfort" this weekend.
Minnie Batch spent 40 years in Malibu California where she and her husband both worked for Mr. J. Paul Getty and his family. They had a beautiful home on the Getty estate, retired and moved to Mesa in 1994. We were so lucky to have Mrs. Minnie join our committee as she brought tales of worldly travels, that big smile, always words of encouragement and that large purse when needed. She was known to plant a big wet kiss on your cheek that left her trademark "Ruby Red Lipstick." Minnie, we love and miss you.
Mr. Robert Brinton, known as Mesa's Mr. Chicago Cub, was the past president of the Cactus baseball league and was the president and CEO of Mesa's Visitors and Convention Bureau for 24 years until his death in October. After two disappointing efforts by a small grassroots group to pass the holiday, Robert got on board in 1996 and brought a coalition of religious, civic, and business leaders with him, and our movement had major horsepower. Robert stepped out of his comfort zone to become that true measure of a man that Dr. King talked about, but he wanted to remain on the sidelines as our ghost operative opening doors that were once vaulted shut in opposition against the holiday. I found out after his death that he received many nasty phone calls because of his support for the holiday, and once as he and his son were putting up pro-MLK signs on a major street in Mesa, a man cursed him, calling him the (N-word) lover and steered his vehicle towards them almost running them over. Every year as we bring these celebration events to Mesa, I've always thought about the late Pastor Jerry Boyd, who was the drum major when we marched together for that Mesa holiday. But now with Mr. Cub, I'll vision two.
Folks, please come out with family and share the vision and unity of Dr. King's Dream and celebrate one of our many events. For information, call John Goodie at (480) 329-3116, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.mesamlk.org online.
John R. Goodie is a Gilbert resident and a Mesa MLK committee member.