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[PHOTO/CAPTION: Mary Ellen Thompson]

Mrs. Pelzer Retires

by Mary Ellen Thompson

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From the Editor: Mary Ellen Thompson is herself a member of the national staff and a loyal Federationist cut from the same fine cloth as Mrs. Pelzer. The NFB is filled with quiet people who do not make a production of their commitment to Federation principles and who work hard and faithfully without fanfare or hoopla. My mother's term for such folks is "All wool and a yard wide." They are the very backbone of our movement, and we would all do well to look around us and notice these members, acknowledge their contributions, and thank God for their dedicated service. This is what Mrs. Thompson says about long-time NFB staffer Joanne Pelzer:

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I met Mrs. Pelzer in 1981 soon after I came to work at the Maurer Law Firm. In those days her office at the National Center for the Blind was located in the East Mall. She was the quiet and friendly one who did her job proficiently and thoroughly. She kept the Monitor mailing list in order.

We became friends the first time we said hello, and the friendship has never ended. I have learned countless lessons from my friends, and some of the most important ones have been those taught by Mrs. Pelzer. First and foremost, I have learned patience. Mrs. Pelzer faces every day of every week of every year armed with patience and the love of our great provider. She is blessed with the presence of the Lord in everything she does, and with her understanding and patience she is herself a blessing.

Convention goers know her from the banquet ticket exchange table. This job requires patience with people who are in a hurry and unconcerned with the necessity of orderly business. Mrs. Pelzer handled that job as if she had been born to it. She made ticket exchanges confidently and made folks feel glad that they had spoken with her.

Away from the National Center and the National Convention, she studied at the Baltimore Bible College and became an evangelist. Mrs. Pelzer shares her life with her family, including two daughters and several grandchildren.

In the last few years I have learned yet another lesson through Mrs. Pelzer's example. It's how to be sick and still keep smiling and how to keep going when you don't feel well. Mrs. Pelzer is long-suffering. She has had diabetes for many years. Because of her diabetes she has had trouble for years with healing wounds and other complications of diabetes. She has never indulged herself in pain; and, as a matter of fact, she never mentions her difficulties at all unless she is questioned.

A few years ago I learned that I also have diabetes. I was not happy with the news, but when I told Mrs. Pelzer, she got busy immediately educating me on the subject. I can't tell you how important her ability to put me at ease about my diabetes has been in helping me. If all adversity could be faced with such even-handed courage and with the love of the Lord, there would be fewer adversities and more smiles from confident, happy people.

In December, 1998, Mrs. Pelzer retired from the staff of the National Center for the Blind. She has become a dialysis patient and found it necessary to have more time for that process and the rest that it requires. When I first met Mrs. Pelzer, she was a sighted person. Recently, because of diabetic complications, she has had one eye removed and has little or no vision in the remaining eye. Mrs. Pelzer may have retired from the national staff, but she is still very much in the hearts of us all. She comes to chapter meetings when she can, and many of us keep her telephone line busy.

The strength of her convictions is made visible in her patience. Mrs. Pelzer is not one to stay down or out. She is already setting the wheels in motion to go to the Louisiana Center for the Blind for her training as a blind person. When the time comes, she will go to Ruston and will do well. We love you, Mrs. Pelzer. Thank you for all you have done.

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