Monday, July 21, 2008

My friend, Betty White

Betty White is a friend to all animals and a great supporter of shelters and animal welfare causes. During my years volunteering and other dog activities, I have met her several times. My Dad, George Johnson, was a big fan of her, so he was VERY impressed! 

She made several appearances at Humane Society and Delta Society fundraisers, and I even met her at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show one year, where she was touring the benching area with David Frei, the Westminster announcer, who also served on our Humane Society's board of directors with me. 

Every time I met Betty, I'd tell Dad, who was living in Yankton, South Dakota (birthplace of Tom Brokaw, he's always quick to inform you). On one of my visits we went to see Dad's lawyer, and as we sat in the lawyer's office, Dad leaned over to her and in a loud whisper, said "Hey, my daughter here is a friend of Betty White." I felt like a 10 year old kid again, and wanted to crawl under the table.

A few months later, I received a note in the mail from Dad. It was one part of an interoffice three-piece carbon memo (long before email days). One copy went to the Doris Day Animal League, and one copy went to me: 
"Dear Doris,
Please accept this check as my order for the book, xxxx, and mail it to my daughter, Terry Albert, who is a nationally recognized artist and friend of Betty White..."
By now you see where this is going. I'm sure "Doris" was suitably impressed. Dad would tell people at the coffee shop, church and the car wash about his daughter who knows a celebrity. The biggest celebrity Yankton ever saw (besides Tom Brokaw) was Lawrence Welk, who used to play the Corn Palace up in Mitchell, SD, with his orchestra before he hit the big time. Dad would tell you that he once retrieved Mr. Welk's broken conductor's baton from the floor of the stage and returned it to him during a performance. "And he said thank you!" Dad would boast. 

By the time of Dad's 84th birthday, he was living in a nursing home, and my brother and I provided most of his contact with the outside world. That year, I wrote a note to the Delta Society (I used to write their Pet Partners Newsletter, so I had a contact there), and asked them to forward it on to Betty White, who served on their Board of Directors. I asked Ms. White if she would send a birthday card to her biggest fan, my Dad. As a thank you I enclosed a package of some of my notecards featuring dog art I had done. I was delighted when I received a wonderful thank you note from her.

On my next visit to South Dakota, I found Dad had received an autographed photo of Betty White (see above) with a personal message to him. We went right out and bought a frame for it, and hung it on the wall so everyone who came to his room could see it, and he could continue to embarrass me with his story. 

I wouldn't claim that I'm a friend of Betty White's, but she certainly was a friend to me. And I'm sure when Tom Brokaw came to visit Yankton, Dad told him all about it.


Darlene said...

Thanks so much for sharing your relationship with your Dad. He was obviously very proud of you. You're a very lucky lady, indeed. This truly touched my heart.

Roberta said...

Lovely story. Thanks so much for giving your readers such a smile.