Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – From an Editor’s notebook and fond memories: Father Paul Zahler of St. Gregory’s honored for a lifetime of humanitarian work, and the great lady known as “Kelly” Green is remembered.
Tuesday, October 17, Father Paul Zahler was honored at the annual dinner of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma. During the event held at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City, Zahler received the Harley Venter Humanitarian Award.
The designation recognizes the Roman Catholic monk for more than five decades of work with developmentally-challenged children and adults. Zahler runs the National Institute on Developmental Delays, based at the Benedictine Monastery in Shawnee. Programs at the Institute include horseback riding therapy, allowing children to develop skills and build confidence.
Father Paul’s published works include ‘The Experience Quotient and Human Development’ focused on the practical and moral work of building up individuals facing serious developmental challenges. Father Paul’s fans at the dinner included St. Gregory’s University President Michael Scaperlanda and his wife, Maria, author of an acclaimed biography of Father Stanley Rother.
Also attending to honor his brother monk was St. Gregory’s Abbot, Lawrence Stasyszen.
This reporter served for several years on the Institute’s board, learning from the wise sage virtues of patience (which he has in abundance, and I still seek) and persistence in a wonderful cause.
Rabbi Abby Jacobsen of Oklahoma City’s Emanuel Synagogue, and a leader for the Interfaith Alliance, made the presentation to Father Paul.
Elizabeth Jane “Kelly” Green died on Tuesday. She was a clown – and I mean that in absolutely the most affectionate and positive way.
For a quarter-century, she was the guiding light behind the annual St. Patrick’s parade in downtown Oklahoma City. Born in Chicago, she attended parochial schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kelly raised her children in Oklahoma City after marrying Steve, described in her obituary as “the love of her life.” She spent 22 years working for the state auditor and inspector’s office.
Outside of her government service, she is best remembered as a member of the “Ho Ho the Clown” cadre, one of the troupe of volunteers who visited “the poor, the sick, the hospitalized and the children of Oklahoma.” The clowns modeled their efforts from the inspiration of the late Ed Birchall, much better known as Ho Ho the Clown. Ed had befriended Kelly in her younger days – in the words of her Oklahoman obit, helping her “through a sad and difficult period of her life.”
In 1992, Kelly and her co-chair of the local St. Patrick’s Day parade, Don Brown, asked me to serve as grand marshal. That was the beginning of a long and affectionate relationship. While her favorite drink was a martini, in those days my preferred libation was Irish Whiskey.
The differing in preferences for such matters never stood in our way. I have only visited the Emerald Isle once, while she returned to our mutual ancestral sod more than once. When she spoke of that dear land across the ocean, her Irish eyes smiled and sparkled. Of course, that’s the way I will remember her.
The last time we saw each other, Kelly was as spry and vivacious as ever. Her son Kevin, his wife Marcy and grandson Sean survive her.
A funeral Mass for Kelly was scheduled for Saturday (October 21) at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Warr Acres; a vigil was held Friday evening. Kelly lived a long life, dying at the age of 91.
One day, I pray to see her again in that Dear Land where now she resides.