Unlike many of you, I had little connection with Misty from common research or teaching interests. My own work as a policy economist was always a very long way from hers. Yet I knew Misty quite well for a very long time both through ISA and the Pew Faculty Fellowship program. The ISA connections were the stronger, and we served together on the Long Range Planning Committee some years ago and then again on the Finance Committee towards the end of Misty’s life. I was flattered and embarrassed that Misty always thought my PhD in economics would lead me to really insightful analysis of ISA’s finances. It never did.

One activity we shared that we never discussed was her work with Phil Schrodt putting together the 1995 ISA convention. Terry Hopmann and I did this nerve-wracking and exhausting work when we were both quite young—and neither of us was suffering from cancer. Misty’s courage and determination during this first round of affliction was really inspiring. In fact, Misty was fighting cancer nearly all of the time I worked with her most closely. I never inquired from anybody who had known her well previously how the cancer might have changed her. I could not have asked for a more alert, energetic, or generous-spirited colleague.

I got to know Misty best—as perhaps some of the rest of you did—from the emailings that she and Phil sent out when the medical news was getting ever grimmer. I don’t think anybody could read those messages without reflecting how much better a world we would have if more people had Misty’s values and determination. My wife didn’t know Misty at all, but Venetia was a hospital administrator with a keen interest in hospice care, and she and I read—and cried—over several of those mailings. They reflected the kind of courage that many of us would hope to muster in such a situation but doubt if we really would. Venetia said simply: “She must be quite a person.”

I remember one message in particular, and I looked it up today; it was sent on April 2, 2006:

“Well, folks, I keep trying to come up with good news to share with you but haven't been real successful of late. Let's see. The weather yesterday was beautiful: warm blue skies and big puffy clouds…the clover a bright purple.”

She talks of natural decoration for the house and thoughtful gifts. She writes of the great pain and fever spikes and also of her looking forward to ISA in San Diego, only to be forced home early by pain and fever and winding up in the KU Medical Center. The e-mail is quite long. She writes of the frustration of falling behind in grading and missing classes but, she says “I plan to be in the classroom again, hurrah!” There is much else on pain, the pluses and minuses of various interventions, and she concludes: “With all of this going on, I confess I've found it difficult to stay cheerful; it is all quite overwhelming. But Phil calculated that I have already managed to live longer than about 90% of people who have had a diagnosis of liver metastases resulting from breast cancer and much of that has been a good time. So I am trying to focus on this and on living in the moment rather than freaking out over the future, which admittedly doesn't look particularly promising. As always, support but not despair is what I most need from my friends…”

This message and those that followed brought something to mind that—if you will forgive my Minnesota parochialism—Walter Mondale said in the Capitol Rotunda in his eulogy for Hubert Humphrey. I thought how—for me at least —it so perfectly suited Misty. Mondale concluded: “He taught us how to hope and how to live, how to win and how to lose, and, finally, he taught us how to die.”

Robert T. Kudrle
University of Minnesota