WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Margaret Wenger speaks adoringly of her son Curt.
“He was a very beautiful baby and a lovely child, obedient and for a long time he was very happy,” she said as she spoke on the University of Central Oklahoma campus, where she teaches English to international students for another organization.
In California, Curt enjoyed his teachers, school, loved to play soccer and was good enough to be on a team. He found joy in music, especially the classical genre. He mastered the clarinet and the piano, but also found pleasure in listening to music.
Wenger said her son was a well-behaved young man who was jealous of the attention his brother got for being awful. He was good at taking care of his brother.
“Curt was the ideal child,” Wenger said.
In junior high, Curt had a friend who even his mother thought was weird. He and his friend invented their own games. When he entered high school, Curt started losing his joy. He had a rocky relationship with a music instructor and gave up playing the clarinet, but still played the piano.
He had good friends, but he didn’t have a lot of them. He did not want to be “like the fellas,” but he received a lot of positive attention from older female students. He was an excellent mathematician like his father. He hung out with individuals who would be considered social misfits. He wanted to be different.
“He was used to being a nerd and he was comfortable,” Wenger said. “He cultivated that. He tried to be different.”
After Wenger and her husband divorced, Curt spent a lot of time with his father. At one point, when some concerns arose, he was examined by a psychologist who found him to be a normal person.
Curt began to dislike his mother. During a period of several years, he grew darker. His grades were fine when he dropped out of high school; he just didn’t want to go to school anymore. After receiving guidance from his parents, he would later get his GED.
Then Curt became uncommunicative. He would spend hours in his room. And he drew closer to the aforementioned friend from junior high, who became one of his few friends. When Curt was about 18 and not living with his mother, she learned he was drinking.
At one point, Wenger told Curt’s father that she thought they should intervene. After that, Curt began attempting to kill himself. His parents took him everywhere seeking professional help, but she was told they could not keep him since he was not a threat to himself or others.
One day, during an incident at her home, Curt became physical with his mother and was choking her. She was able to call for his stepfather. Curt stopped and left.
“That was the last time I saw him alive,” Wenger said as she vividly recalled the incident.
Wenger was an assistant principal at a California school, located about 53 miles from her home and about 40 miles from her ex-husband’s workplace. One day she went out for yard duty and saw her ex-husband standing there. She knew why he had come.
“I was numb,” she said of hearing that her son had committed suicide. “I didn’t cry. I hollered when he told me.”
Wenger said Curt had stolen a credit card from his father and disappeared. He bought many of his favorite things, rented a swanky hotel in upper-class Los Angeles by the week. He partied and drank. One night, when he had not paid for the week, the hotel manager noticed the door was locked and called the police. He was found dead in the room. Curt was nearing his 21st birthday.
Wenger closed off her emotions. Her mind took over and she started thinking about all the things she had to do before the end of the day. For a long time she focused on the moment: Administrative tasks to finish before she could leave, other tasks to do, planning the funeral, how to tell relatives.
After hearing the news she went home and found eight messages on her phone. She couldn’t bear the idea of answering them and tossed it across the room. Then she grieved.
Curt had saved papers he considered important — diaries, journals, essays — and kept them in a box. Wenger went through every line of every paper and often cried during the experience. What she read gave her insight into his emotional state of mind.
Wenger said when someone asked Curt’s brother how it felt that Curt was in hell (for taking his own life), his brother said, “You don’t understand. He didn’t go to hell, he left hell.”
“And I started to realize that that’s probably true,” Wenger said. “And that took away all the anger. It was his life and it was his private hell. He chose to end it that way. That was OK with me. That was his choice. I can’t say that I’m not gonna grieve, but I can say I’m not mad anymore.”
Wenger, now age 74, said she still is not sure that she has her head back together again. Several times during the interview she paused as emotions welled up inside her.
“Anybody who’s been through this will tell you time does not heal it, and it doesn’t,” she said. “It gives you coping mechanisms. It enables you to cope better with the pain.”
Forgiving her son helped free her from the pain, she said.
HOW TO HELP, GET HELP
Members of a community suicide prevention task force are sponsoring a suicide prevention summit from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in the Pegasus Theater, Liberal Arts Building, on the UCO campus. It is one of several that have been held in Edmond in recent months.
It has been a difficult year for many Edmond residents who have been touched by loved ones who have committed suicide.
“Together I feel that as a community we are starting to make a difference and in turn save lives,” said Ken Elliott, director of UCO’s Violence Prevention Project.
In 2012 Edmond Police officers responded to 13 suicides and 55 attempted suicides, according to the Edmond Police Department. Victims have been male and female and ranged from age 14 to age 60-plus.
Elliott said he is encouraged by the number of community stakeholders involved in the citywide effort. Individuals who have contemplated suicide are starting to hear the message that they are not alone and that there is hope, Elliott said.
The event will include a faith talk, a teacher talk and a faith talk. Participants will be taught QPR — question, persuade, refer — a method of suicide prevention. There also will be instructions for teens and for members of the LGBT community.
Elliott said if area residents or someone they know has experienced thoughts of suicide or experienced signs of depression, they are encouraged to attend the summit. They will receive information that could save a life, he said.
FOR MORE information about the event, call Elliott at 974-2388, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.uco.edu/student-affairs/scc.
FOR ASSISTANCE with mental health issues, call 2-1-1, HeartLine’s 24/7 information and referral line for health and human service needs. Callers can get help, hope and information from a database of more than 3,000 partner agencies and 6,000 individual services. Also, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a helpline answered by HeartLine in Oklahoma.
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Stakeholders offer Feb. 16 suicide prevention workshop
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Margaret Wenger speaks adoringly of her son Curt.
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2 Edmond detectives help deliver baby boy
It was a big day for Colin and Dalisha Johnson and two burly Edmond cops. It was an even bigger day for Kingsly Johnson — his birthday.
The Johnson’s baby was due to come into the world Dec. 18, and plans were for labor to be induced Dec. 13, said Colin, sounding like a proud papa as he talked about the day in a room at OU Medical Center-Edmond. Kingsly had other plans.
2 candidates file for Edmond School Board seat
Filing for local school districts’ school board positions ended at 5 p.m. Wednesday with seven candidates filing for five positions. The election will be held Feb. 11.
Candidates for Deer Creek Office 4 Seat and Guthrie Seat No. 3 are running unopposed, while Guthrie Seat No. 4 has two candidates filing as does the Oakdale Seat No. 1.
Cynthia Benson filed for Edmond Seat No. 4 Seat against Stephanie Bills. Bills was appointed by the sitting school board members to fill a position left open when board member George Cohlmia resigned so his daughter could apply for a job in the district.
NWS urges residents to prepare for winter storm
A winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service includes the Edmond area.
Cities included in the warning, in effect until 6 p.m. Friday, are Guthrie, Edmond, Oklahoma City, Moore, Norman, Chandler, El Reno, Tulsa, Stillwater, McAlester, Ada, Ardmore, Duncan, Shawnee, Lawton, Altus, Clinton and Watonga.
Wednesday morning, the NWS released projected precipitation totals for the state, and a region from Altus to the Oklahoma City metro area including Edmond is in the zone of 3-6 inches of snow and sleet accumulation with locally higher amounts possible.
Areas closest to the north and south of the band should expect to receive up to 2 inches of wintry precipitation. An area southeast of roughly Wichita Falls to Ada should expect to receive a quarter inch to two thirds of an inch of ice accumulation.
Hampden Hollow plat application moves forward
The Edmond Planning Commission agreed 3-0 this week to recommend the preliminary plat and the final plat of the Hampden Hollow III. This plat is east of Air Depot, just under one-half mile north of Covell Road.
“It is the final phase of Hampden Hollow,” said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
Applicant J.W. Armstrong proposes 74 single family lots set on 29 acres with city utilities. The lots are 7,200 square feet or larger, Schiermeyer said.
“It’s very consistent with what’s in the area,” Schiermeyer said.
Gated access to private streets will interconnect with existing streets in Hampden Hollow, Schiermeyer said.
The City Council will review the item Dec. 9, said Mark Hoose, commissioner.
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Inhofe wants new NDAA bill
Sen. Jim Inhofe shared his thoughts about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Tuesday at the State Republican Headquarters in Oklahoma City.
Inhofe responded to an audience member’s assertion that the NDAA allows the president to act as a dictator by snatching citizens off the street and detaining them without due process.
“I don’t believe it,” Inhofe said. “…He asked a question and I’m disagreeing with him because something is happening right now and we have to have an NDAA.”
There has always been a reason to oppose an NDAA bill, Inhofe said. The reason this time is that Republicans have said there will not be an NDAA bill unless it includes amendments for the National Security Council as well as Iran sanctions, Inhofe said.
Santa Fe High School showcases play Thursday, Friday
Senior Lane Jinkins portraying Mr. Marmalade in the Santa Fe High School play by the same name, tries an imaginary pair of shoes on 4-year-old Lucy, played by senior Jessica Tang. Santa Fe High School drama students are presenting "Mr. Marmalade," this weekend. A dark comedy, the play is a story telling how Lucy deals with abusive behavior through cast members portraying imaginary friends and relatives. Students will be performing the play at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Edmond district checking employees for criminal misdeeds
Edmond Board of Education members voted to accept the single reading of changes for two board policies, both dealing with school employees.
Executive Director of Human Resources Randy Decker presented board members with Policy #2240, Criminal Record Questionnaire, Employee Annual and Policy #2120 dealing with Benefits, Administrator and Professional Non-Bargaining Employees at Monday’s regular monthly meeting.
Decker told board members Policy #2240 deals with a criminal record check initiated in order to be sure nothing shows up as an offense on the record of administrators, teachers and support personnel.
Additional candidate files for Oakdale School Board position
Filing for area school board seats will close at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Candidates may file at the Oklahoma County Election Board, 4201 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City. There is no filing fee.
Seats up for grabs in the Feb. 11 election include the Edmond School Board District No. 4 seat, Deer Creek School Board Office 4 seat, Guthrie Seat No. 3 and Seat No. 4 and Oakdale Public School District No. 1 seat. If needed, a run-off election will be April 1.
Oakdale incumbent Kelli Walsh filed for Seat No. 1 Tuesday joining J. David Walsh who filed Monday.
Monday Stephanie Bills filed for the Edmond No. 4 seat while Deer Creek incumbent Danny Barnes filed for the Deer Creek Office 4 Seat and incumbent S. Janna Pierson filed for Guthrie Seat No. 3. Guthrie School Board Seat No. 4 is currently filled by Orville Cornelius but is also up for election.
To be eligible for Edmond’s District 4 seat, a candidate must live in the district, be a registered voter in the district, have a high school diploma or equivalency and not be employed by the district or have immediate family members employed by the district. The same criteria apply for the Deer Creek seat.
3 major projects making progress
Members of the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce got a glimpse of new Edmond developments at Tuesday’s quarterly chamber luncheon.
The Public Safety Center, Summit Sports Complex and the YMCA Recreation and Aquatic Center were highlighted.
Economic development is on the rise with the new $15 million Summit Sports Complex. The complex is being developed on the northeast corner of Interstate 35 and Covell.
“We’ve got plans for two more hotels right in front of this complex,” said Davis Hudiburg, investor. The lead investors also include Mike Miller, Rodney Bates and Derek Turner.
The regional hub for youth and adult sports will be an Edmond cornerstone through the 21st century, the investors said.
Edmond officer arrests Logan Co. suspect
An officer arrested an Edmond resident wanted on a Logan County warrant, according to an incident report.
In November 2011, prosecutors filed felony charges in Logan County District Court alleging Jimmy Ray Hilton, 67, distributed and possessed child pornography and that he violated the Computer Crimes Act, according to court records.
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