I wish to share these two letters Gretchen wrote to me twenty one years ago. They not only demonstrate her foresight, professionalism, commitment to Africana librarianship, they also show the longevity, the intensity of our friendship, and the love and concerns we both shared for our children. Gretchen was my friend and confidant since I met her in the 70s. We worked together at the African Studies Library, Boston University (BU) before I was made director of BU's Educational Resources Library. My late son, Augustine was 16 years old when we returned home in 1983. Gretchen (without my asking) would send him sneakers/jeans etc. in his size through visitors to Nigeria while we were in Jos between 1983 and 1987, before Augustine's death in a car accident in 1987. She even sent us USA for Africa's "We Are The World", the huge musical album released by several top musicians like Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, etc. when famine raged in Ethiopia. My Augustine loved the album intensely and quickly learnt the lyrics within minutes of its arrival. I actually learnt the lyrics from him. I do not know to this day where Gretchen found the bearers that brought these gifts to us in Jos. Now I wish I had asked her. When, I interviewed at Northwestern University in 1986, I scouted around Chicago for a college for Augustine in case I got the position. University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) looked promising and I collected college materials and completed some admission forms. I remember discussing this move with Gretchen and I actually left some papers with her in Boston so I did not have to carry them back and forth. When I got the position and finally arrived without Augustine, how can I forget the pain and loss we shared when she brought up the issue of Augustine's admission papers I had left with her in Boston. I have so much to say of Gretchen but I must stop because I am not up to speaking of her yet in the past tense.
Images of Letters from Gretchen to Patricia
Dr. Patricia Ogedengbe (nee Ukoli)
Librarian of Africana
Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies
Northwestern University Library
Back to "In Memoriam - Gretchen Walsh"
Back to Table of Contents