September 9,2013: A Garden Patch


Pix I took on a recent trip to the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium
Suzanne Scott passed away this morning. A wonderfully written newspaper story honoring her legacy got my attention. It brought back an old memory and reminded me of the goodness of a garden patch.

I briefly met Mrs. Scott in 1989. Our chance meeting was on an elevator in the downtown Kiewit Plaza. I had begun my accounting career at Peter Kiewit Sons at the ripe age of 21. Walter Scott was CEO. In my year and a half tenure at Kiewit, Mr. Scott and I had never met. But I did meet his lovely wife.

As a young hire for the big construction power house, I heard many stories of the company leadership. Mr Scott was well liked and widely talked about. Rumor had it that he and his wife occupied the top floor of the corporate headquarters. To me this was all just talk. I was a mere junior accountant trying to properly learn her debits and credits.

One day I firsthand discovered the folklore to be true. I walked into an elevator as I would any other day. What greeted me was a sight unlike any typical day at the office. The elevator was occupied by a striking older woman with two dogs.

The woman was stunning; wearing tall brown boots with red lipstick highlighting her short silver hair. With the obedient dogs on either side, she beamed of confidence and presence. As she greeted me with a gleam in her eyes, I quickly surmised that this must be Mrs. Scott. She was very kind and engaged me in pleasant chatter centering around her dogs.

That was it. Mrs. Scott wouldn't remember me. But I always remembered her. She embodied the phrase "a class act". I was reminded of her many class acts in the years to come as my sons were raised with the zoo a focal point in their childhood.

The article in the Omaha World Herald warmly chronicled the good deeds Mrs. Scott has made to our city. Watching the tremendous expansion of zoo exhibits over the years, I have been continually reminded of the Scott's generosity.

The marveled jewel called Henry Doorly Zoo was built with abundant support by this couple. As I read the article in the paper, I learned that Suzanne and Walter met through their individual passions for this Omaha wonder.

Suzanne was the founding director of the Omaha Zoo Foundation and Walter the board president when they met and began dating in the mid-80's. In relaying her partiality for the zoo, Suzanne was quoted as saying "The zoo allows all people in the whole community to participate. It is something for everybody, not just a selected few."

I couldn't agree more. The zoo is a true respite for all. Old to young. Rich to poor. A love for our non-human friends does not discriminate. Millions have been touched by the enjoyment of this animal kingdom. My family falls in the benefactor category as do countless others from all walks of life.

I was reminded of a favorite quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that describes leaving the world a better place..."To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

The zoo is a wonderful garden patch for our fare city. I was taught at a young age that there are givers and takers in this world. We should all be grateful for Mrs. Scott's giving nature.

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