|Willma Willis Gore at her 90th birthday celebration|
Soon after we moved to the foothills of the Sierra, I joined a writing critique group and met Willma Gore. Willma wrote and sold articles to all sorts of magazines. She was a wonder at listening to people's work and highlighting the best parts and giving ideas how to make the rest better. I learned more from Willma at those critique sessions than any of the writing workshops I attended or the writing books I read.
Together, Willma and I attended many writing conferences and writing groups. Along with picking up knowledge along the way we became great friends and had a lot of enjoyable time together. She introduced me to the Native American culture in the Porterville area and I learned a lot that I used in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series.
Willma lost her husband and moved to various parts of California, Big Bear area and several homes on the Central Coast. I manged to find ways and excuses to visit her. On one visit to her home at Lake Gregory, we and her other house guests attended a gathering where the late Ray Bradbury was the guest speaker.
Several years ago, Willma moved to Sedona AZ to be near a step-son. We kept in touch via email and I traipsed over to visit her a couple of times. When I received an invitation to her 90th birthday party, I knew I had to go.
The party was held at friends' backyard with a view of Cathedral Rock and other of the beautiful red rock mountains. Nearly 70 of Willma's friends and relatives attended, many from far-away. Good food and drink was served along with wonderful live music being played. It was wonderful to hear all the tributes to her as everyone was invited to share what they gained from having Willma in their lives.
Happy Birthday, dear friend.