Monday, April 8, 2013

A Rose for Centenary's rose garden

       This is a promise kept. My mother, Rozette Lopes-Dias Van Thyn, is now a permanent part of Centenary College's rose garden.
       Before she passed away, almost three years ago, we promised Mom -- Oma, as the grandkids called her -- that she would be memorialized at the college she grew to love.
       The plaque is in place. On a beautiful Sunday morning with Centenary's garden in full spring bloom, Beatrice and I dedicated it.
       My thought was "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." That's adapted from Genesis 3:19 (yes, I had to look that up).
      And in the area where it's located, under a gazebo, one -- and only one -- rose was in full bloom, right next to the plaque. How appropriate.
       In her obituary -- she died June 27, 2010 -- we had promised to honor her with a plaque at Centenary, where she and my Dad visited often with students as part of a Holocaust study class, where her memorial service was held and where the Van Thyn Endowed Professorship Chair for Holocaust studies was established.
       We thank campus officials -- especially David Henington, Centenary's director of planned giving -- for getting this done.
       We think Oma would have liked the plaque because it has a red base and gold lettering. It's a bit gaudy, and often so was she. She was bright, and she would wear bright colors.
       The wording on the plaque is similar to that as the plaques on the memorial benches at LSU-Shreveport honoring both my parents. This one reads:
                   In memory of
            DR. ROSE VAN THYN
             Wife, mother, Oma and
        Holocaust survivor/educator"
 Honorary doctorate in Humane Letters
                   Centenary, 2002
Oma Rose talking with Centenary students
      As I've written before, my mother spent more than 25 years speaking to groups -- students, church, civic organizations and, most notably, Shreveport-Bossier's annual Holocaust Remembrance Service -- about her and our family's experiences in the Holocaust and about the buildup to and aftermath of World War II.
       This week, for the first time, I will be speaking to a class -- at Ferguson Junior High in Arlington, Texas -- about the Holocaust.
       I'll try to do justice to what my mother was always trying to say: That tolerance for other human beings is one of life's most important elements; that cruelty, in any form, is unacceptable.
       That, God forbid, the horrors of the German occupation -- and the concentration camps/mass murders -- not happen anywhere, to any people. And that when they do -- and there is still suppression and total disregard for human life in several parts of the world today -- they are unacceptable.
       No way will I have as much impact or be as insightful as my mother was on this topic. But I've done some reading and studying in preparation, and I've listened to a tape of my mother speaking.
       I'll try to do the best I can.      
       And I'll be thinking about Mom, just as Bea and I were Sunday morning. We preceded our visit to this year's Holocaust Remembrance Service with a visit to Centenary's rose garden, or in this case Rose's garden.


  1. a beautiful story of a beautiful lady, you and all the family must be so proud...Lana (Garrett) Hebert

  2. Nico,

    your parents were very special to our travels.


  3. From Ike Futch: Very touching, Nico. Your mother would be proud!

  4. From Dan Dunn: Awesome stuff, my friend. Nice tribute.

  5. From Pat Booras: Nico, eternal be your Mom's memory. Your Mom and Dad are beacons of "good light" in the world forever. Their lives, all the parts of their lives, give and breathe hope into us now ... and also future generations.

  6. From Carolyn Groves Pierce: She would be so proud. I miss her.

  7. Nico Your mom and dad were such awesome people. I believe you will do a very good job doing the same thing in their memory and all surviviors of that terrible time in the world's history and hope there will always be someone to keep the history going. You know your parents were very special to my family and the world lost two precious people with that lose. Every time I read anything about them I cry but it's a special cry. I will always remember them and how much they did for the holocost God bless you and all your family. Share pictures of your trip please Janet German

  8. Your Mother was a outstanding lady, friend and neighbor. She was so easy to love and I looked forward to the many afternoons sitting in the yard and visiting. Those were special times, she glowed when she spoke of her children and how proud she was of both of you. Great memories.

  9. From Maxie Hays: Beautiful and awesome tribute to your Mom, Nico. Brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful rose for "Rose." Incredible!

  10. From Abby Wellen (her youngest granddaughter): Miss her every day, but I know she would love this. So glad you got a chance to go.

  11. From Roy May: A remarkable lady, to say the least.

  12. From Helaine Nierman Braunig: For those who loved Rose Van Thyn (and Louis) -- and who will never forget.

  13. From John English: This was beautiful, elegant, understated and heartfelt. You will do well in your presentation because it, too, will come from the heart.