LLL Memories

Check out this eclectic collection of other memories that don't fit neatly anywhere else--and add your own.

Fran Dereszynski, :

February 2014. This is the complete story of Welda's trip in 2013. An excerpt on her travels to areas in the Western United States was published in Continuum, Volume 27, No. 1, January-April 2014. Editorial review and editing was by LLL Alumnae Association Council members Fran Dereszynski and Judy Torgus, with regard to length, clarity, and adherence to LLL Journalistic guidelines. To obtain permission to reprint this story, contact Fran at dereszyn@verizon.net

Trip Around Part of LLL World, story by Welda Hoerz

Welda Hoerz grew up in North Carolina, USA. After she was married, she moved to Germany. . She became an LLL Leader in 1978, and helped start LLL Germany. Welda retired as a Leader several years ago. She has three adult children and four grandchildren.


My Trip Around Part of the LLL World

If I were to tell you stories of all the wonderful women I’ve met during the past 35 years that I have been with La Leche League, they would fill the next ten issues of Continuum! So I will dwell on the lovely LLL friends who welcomed my partner Tom and me into their homes in 2013 during a mini-trip around part of the LLL world: Anne Devereux, Barbara Sturmfels, and Yvonne Foreman in New Zealand; Fran Dereszynski and Kittie Frantz in California, USA; and Joan Little in Alberta, Canada. In 2009, Tom and I started talking about a trip around the world—saving to buy tickets and finance our travels. I hoped we could visit my international friends whom I had met at various conferences and meetings when I represented LLL Deutschland and Europe, and was member of the LLLI Board of Directors. The first problem occurred when we realized that we tried to include too many friends and countries. So I sadly wrote Mimi de Maza, Waleska Porras, and Monica Tessone in Latin America and Nan Jolly and Esmè Nel in South Africa that we would visit next time!

Our journey from Munich, Germany, began in Auckland, New Zealand, where former La Leche League New Zealand (LLLNZ) Director Barbara Sturmfels met us at the airport. Barbara is renowned for being the fairy godmother of my relationship with Tom. We met in a palace park in Munich when Barbara visited me after the 2009 LLLI cost-sharing meeting in Frankfurt. The story of our meeting is in Continuum, September-December 2011, available online at lllalumnae.org/publications. While in Auckland, we stayed at Barbara’s and Bill’s lovely home while she went off each morning to teach a breastfeeding class for peer counselors. After the 24-hour flight, that first quiet week gave us time to slowly recover from jet lag. Barbara and Bill took us to Bill’s brother’s beach house on the Coromandel Peninsula and lent us a car to continue to travel on our own. Tom braved the roads, driving on the left side of the road for the first time in our lives! We enjoyed discussions with Bill and Barbara about raising children, school systems, and politics in our respective countries. I attended an LLL Chapter Meeting with Auckland Leaders. Leader and lactation consultant Barbara Fletcher spoke to us about working with ethnic groups in New Zealand. I also met current LLLNZ Director Alison Stanton, another old acquaintance.

Yvonne Foreman and her partner Bill then hosted us in Hamilton, New Zealand. As a founder of LLLNZ, Yvonne’s history as a pioneer Leader in NZ was similar to what I experienced in Germany in the 1970s. Yvonne is currently the co-editor of Kaleidoscope, NZ’s journal for former LLL Leaders. We had corresponded previously when she asked about reprinting my Continuum article in Kaleidoscope. She graciously invited us to “visit her sometime.” We were lucky to have morning coffee with Kaleidoscope co-editor Rosie Bentley and her husband before they left for California to attend the birth of their new grandchild.

The North and South Islands of New Zealand are so full of amazing natural sites that we soon realized we would not be able to see everything. Visiting was our first priority. From Auckland, North Island, we flew to the South Island to visit with Anne and John Devereux. Anne was one of the first Leaders in NZ and a former Director. We had worked together for five years on the LLLI Board of Directors. Despite those turbulent times with a workload averaging 200 emails to answer daily, we became close friends. What many of you may not know is that lovely, wise Anne, who to me looks like an English lady, not only has a great sense of humor but also dances like a dream! We’ll both never forget the skits we created for the Board roasts, the farewell parties when a Board member finished her term. Anne as “Ginger Rogers” in high heels, beret, and flowing skirt, danced with “Fred Astaire” to Irving Berlin’s Cheek to Cheek–with original lyrics! At an annual Board meeting, Anne once hosted a genuine English High Tea with crumpets, Devonshire cream, and jam for members of the Board. I fear she brought much of that feast with her from New Zealand in her luggage!

Anne arranged for us to stay at her brother-in-law’s beautiful lakeside home in Queenstown for a few days around the Easter holiday, before taking us to their large city-apartment in Dunedin. John and Anne showed us the sights, including the location where bungee jumping originated. We visited with at least two thirds of Anne and John’s ten children and 28 grandchildren over the next two weeks. What became evident here in this LLL home is that John and Anne continue to care for and share in the lives of their adult children and their families. On a stand in her living room, Anne always keeps a “birthday book” open to the appropriate week. She sends daily texts to some family members. John and Anne know so many people around Dunedin through LLL, their church activities, and John’s work. Anywhere we went, people would say, “Oh, I know someone who lives in that building,” or, “Oh, yes, I know your hosts.” Even when we went out to the Otago Peninsula for a week’s vacation in a made-over chicken house, our hosts there knew of the Devereux family and had a neighbor who had been an LLL Leader. One of Anne’s LLL contacts lived down the street and we visited her.

From Dunedin we flew back to Auckland on our way to the Fiji Islands. Barbara Sturmfels met us at the airport during the lay over and took us to a wonderful restaurant in the middle of a vineyard, five minutes from the airport! After fond farewells, we then spent four weeks on the Island of Taveuni, Fiji, alone in the home of a colleague from the international school where I taught early childhood music before I retired. Fresh fruits and flowers from my friend Denise’s garden welcomed us. Here we were able to learn about the country first-hand from the local care-taker/gardener, Bale and his wife, Salome, who taught me how to cook fish with fresh coconut, Fiji-style. Amazing sunsets, indescribable vegetation, and simple, lovely people made this visit memorable. We visited the local kindergarten which Denise and other Westerners sponsor. I taught music lessons, as well as being honored with Tom as special guests: the children and teachers, decked out in flowers and local patterned fabrics, sang us farewell songs.

After visiting friends in New Zealand and Fiji, we flew to Los Angeles, California, where we were welcomed in Pasadena by none other than breastfeeding expert, Kittie Frantz, whom I have known since 1985 when I attended my first LLL International Conference in Washington, D.C. Kittie and I met in the elevator on our way up to a Board reception that we both planned to attend uninvited! In 1988, Kittie came to Europe on a teaching tour that I helped organize. At that time, I also met her teenage daughter, Heather, who still remembers that I smuggled her out to a fast food restaurant! Kittie and I worked together to translate LLLI Information Sheets on positioning for German-speaking LLL Leaders. We kept in touch at all the LLLI Conferences. Kittie was the perfect hostess for two jet-lagged travelers. Food was on the stove and the refrigerator full of food when she left to teach at a local medical school. When Tom went to bed early one evening, Kittie and I went out on the town for a luxurious dinner, an early Mother’s Day special!

A highlight was observing Kittie help a mother who had sore nipples and whose baby had tongue-tie. After Kittie released the tongue-tie, I saw the baby self-attach and heard the mother say incredulously, "It doesn't hurt!" In her characteristic calm manner, Kittie encouraged the mother in her mothering skills, also subtly showing her how to soothe the infant. I watched the baby, placed on mother's chest in a laid back position, work his way down from under his mother's chin to self-attach and then begin to suckle like a pro–a breastfeeding miracle!

The next day was set for an hour’s drive to Huntington Beach to visit the editor of Continuum Fran Dereszynski and her husband Mike, who welcomed us into their lovely home and garden, served us Danish pastry, and gave us books and local maps to take with us. We took a drive down to the nearby ocean strand of downtown Huntington Beach, well known in the USA for its beach, tourist sites, and surfing opportunities. Fran is one of the generous LLL Leaders whom I only met through email and while writing an article for Continuum, September-December 2011. Fran did several favors for me, like mailing Marian Tompson’s book Passionate Journey to Germany. Yet, we never had the chance to talk face-to-face. All four of us were immediately at ease with each other and felt like old friends. Mike’s calm manner reminded me of the other LLL spouses we met along our trip—men who quietly support their wives’ work to make it all possible. Tom’s usual comment after meeting my friends’ husbands was, “What a lovely man!” He admired the growth and peace they have found in their long relationships.

From Pasadena we drove slowly up the California coast on U.S. Highway 101 in our rental car and made a short stop in Eugene, Oregon, to visit Lynne Coates, former LLLI Board Member and Chairwoman and dear friend. We felt welcome in her little house, complete with harpsichord, homemade bread, and gardens all around. What fun we had reviving old stories about our Board times with mutual friends Anne Devereux and Kay Batt, but also learning about each other and where we are now in life! Lynne is working as a gardener but is not neglecting her recorder playing and old music group. Music is one of the things we had in common during our Board work. We once planned a vocal, recorder, and piano concert for a Board reception and performed with Nancy Spahr for a memorial concert at the last LLLI Conference in 2007.

In Portland, Oregon we visited my two cousins, Becky and Jane, the daughters of my father’s two brothers. This opportunity was meaningful because we are exactly the same age. We have only seen each other about six times in our lives. They grew up in Oregon where my parents were raised. My family lived in North Carolina. Despite the physical distances, we discovered we have much in common and are very alike. We had an amazing weekend together, trying to catch up on 66 years of being apart, looking at photos, relating stories of our individual families, our marriages, children, death of a spouse, and new partners. My favorite “Tom story” from the trip was when Becky told our 30-year-old second cousin Amy on the phone that Tom was “very handsome, very European, and he’ll kiss you on both cheeks,” Amy replied, “Oh, I better wash my hair!”

Our last destination Kimberly, British Columbia, was at the vacation home of Joan Little from LLL Canada. From there, we wound our way north through Washington, Idaho, and Montana, discovering Big Sandy, Montana, the town my father grew up in around 1920. There, we visited the historical museum and my grandfather’s grave. Eerily enough, this is the countryside that my German partner, Tom, loves the most with its wide-open sky and limitless prairie.

Before we flew home from Vancouver, Canada, the last dear friends we visited were Kay and Art Batt in Seattle, Washington. Kay continues to lead meetings with the Seattle LLL Group. She was a respected colleague on the LLLI Board of Directors and became a close friend. In February 2006, she and Art flew all the way from Seattle to North Carolina to participate in the memorial service for my late husband Wolfram’s memorial service at Duke University Chapel where we were married. Wolfram was Kay’s “knight in shining armor” at the end of the1990s when he helped us send myriads of documents via email. We normal mortals didn’t have Internet access yet! Wolfram, my daughter Susanne, and I also visited Kay, Art, and their daughter Melissa in 2003 at their vacation spot on the Oregon coast. Tom and I felt welcomed by this wonderful couple who not only invited us to stay in a lovely motel but spent almost a day driving us to various stores to finish off our shopping for Germany! Kay has mastered many health challenges over the years and continues to beam a smile that can only be described as angelic! I gave her so many hugs from Anne, Kittie, Fran and Lynne, that she probably had bruises!

What more can I say about this trip? Only one simple phrase–thank you to Barbara, Yvonne, Anne, Kittie, Fran, Lynne, Joan, and Kay for welcoming us into their homes, and sharing their time and lives with us, thus making this trip possible. Their caring is typical of LLL friends—this time in double doses! All in all, the one thing that such a long and varied trip shows me is how much LLL women in the different countries and cultures are “alike” in so many ways. We share the same love of life, love of sharing this joy with others, and often the same sense of humor. I can only hope that if you and other LLL Alumnae friends decide to realize your “around-the-world” dreams, that you include Munich––Tom and Welda––first in your itineraries. ✰

Welda Hoerz
Munich Germany
This is the complete story of Welda's trip in 2013. An excerpt on her travels to areas in the Western United States was published in Continuum, Volume 27, No. 1, January-April 2014. Editorial review and editing was by LLL Alumnae Association Council members Fran Dereszynski and Judy Torgus, with regard to length, clarity, and adherence to LLL Journalistic guidelines. To obtain permission to reprint this story, contact Fran at dereszyn@verizon.net

Leanne Feuerborn, Batavia, Illinois, United States:

Memory submitted October 2, 2011

I found LLL after having problems nursing my daughter. I successfully breastfed the rest of my children and became an LLLI leader in 1972, an Assistant Area Professional Liaison in 1977, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 1988. I continue to lead an LLL group in Illinois and work as a breastfeeding coordinator at a Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinic in Elgin, Illinois. One of my daughters was one of my co-Leaders for a number of years. I am proud to say that I have 18 grandchildren all who have been breastfed for at least a year. I will be attending the gathering in St. Augustine, FL and look forward to meeting old friends there.

Ann Backhurst, Alabama, United States:

In my Michigan lifetime, I was a Leader and ACLA. Now I am retired and the grandmother of 7 with number 8 on the way. My 3rd daughter has followed in my footsteps and is a Leader in the Carey NC area. Daughter #4 lives here in Mobile and is pregnant with her first baby. She is delighted that I am nearby and has her own built-in LLLeader. I would like to relay one funny story. When Edie (#2) was pregnant, she was reading the Womenly Art of Breastfeeding and in the Family Bed section of the book was reading something that referred to Ken, Ann, Bonnie, Edie, Amy and Emily and she thought it was really kewl/interesting that their was another family in Detroit with the same names as her family. After a bit, she realized it was something I had sent to LLL and it was her family being referenced!