Honoring Al

sheldon pass.jpg

I was an architect with MSKTD from 1994 to 2008- the S in MSKTD stands for Sheldon.  Al passed away on February 5th of 2007; he beat  cancer, but somehow lost the fight.  While most of the office felt that they had lost a boss, I had lost a friend.

Prior to his death, Al and I had worked together for almost 8 years on several projects for Oak Farm Montessori School in Avilla, Indiana.  Oak Farm was the brainchild and masterpiece of Lorene [Dekko] Salsbery.  She was a visionary.  I was never really close to Al until I began my work at Oak Farm.  Al and I  worked on the first 4 buildings together at Oak Farm.  My favorite memory of Al was in the "Red Barn" with a few toddlers crawling on him while I sketched plans and took notes on what Lorene wanted next.  I considered Al, just like Lorene, a founder of the school and a dear friend.  Unfortunately, In December of 2009, we lost Lorene as well...  Both were gone far too soon.

20 years after my first visit, I am somehow now the only "original" still working at the school.   I can joke with the Administration and Faculty that I was at Oak Farm before there was an Oak Farm.  Those small toddlers in my favorite memory are now all adults.  I treasure each and every moment I get to be at the amazing Oak Farm Campus.  I have completed over 20 projects for the school since Lorene, Al, and I toured a simple little farm in northern Indiana back in 1999.  That little farm is now comprised of a complex campus of spectacular buildings, roads, and paths.

Years ago I jokingly said the school should rename the main drive to "Lorene's Way" (since we all knew it was always Lorene's Way).  With the addition of our latest "little" project in the center of the campus, we designed a large roundabout and new entry drive for the entire campus.  Lorene's Way rightfully moved to this prominent new entry drive.  While renaming the other roads through the school, we found ourselves with a new unnamed street.  I asked Lauren Moyer [Oak Farm's CFO and a long-time dear friend] if the school would consider honoring Al Sheldon with a street name.  I tossed out the name "Sheldon Pass"... 

...Yesterday, Lauren sent me a photo of the new street sign on Sheldon Pass.  It brought me to tears, but also made me so proud to have continued an amazing tradition.  Lorene and Al may have left us too soon, but their spirit (and names) now live on forever on the campus that we built together. 

Who knows? Maybe one day [hopefully, many decades from now], I'll get a street sign too.  Believe me, I'm in no hurry and we still have several buildings to go...

Rod CollierComment