These days, it seems like everyone I know is having babies. In the last few months especially. Almost every day I hear about someone else having one.
However, last Thursday I received some news of a very different variety. I was sad to find out that Millicent King, who founded the Winston-Salem Scrabble Club passed away on March 1. She had been doing battle with colon cancer, but remained active, positive and upbeat.
I started going to the Winston-Salem Scrabble club about two and a half years ago after I read Stefan Fatsis' Word Freak. I immediately felt at home there, largely because of Millicent's encouragement. Any time there was a new person there, she welcomed them and played with them and always found a way to offer words of encouragement. She also made a lot of effort to get to know people. She asked questions and listened when you answered.
She wasn't just a fan of the game. She was a fan of the beauty of words, and of the way the games would play out. Even when she would get soundly defeated, she would be complimentary and she would point out nice plays. Not necessarily high-scoring plays, but stylistically nice plays. In my head, I can still hear her complimenting the play QIVIUT which was made on a cluttered board, where the Is were already on the board. "Oh, that's pretty" she would say.
With players who were new not only to the competitive format, but to the game itself, she would never be impatient. This is probably thanks to the fact that she was for 31 years a special education teacher. Even after she retired, she substitute taught and tutored kids from her home. She also encouraged kids to play Scrabble.
Without her guidance of the Winston-Salem club and her personal encouragement, I would never have started playing "competitively" and I would not have ever had the courage to enter a tournament.
I hope I use this sad moment as impetus to get the ball rolling on starting an official club here in Greensboro. If I can have even half the impact on someone's game that she has had on me and the rest of the Winston-Salem crew, I will consider myself to be a success.
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