Basha Hicks
(formerly Beth Goldstein)

Deceased: February 2017

Submitted September 2015

I feel grateful in retirement and for my curious life. I quit college, became a hippie and married young. Moving to Ann Arbor in 1968 taught me to appreciate subtle pleasures of the G-d forsaken mid-west: kind people, flat landscape, pine forests and slow sandy rivers. Not a bagel for 100 miles, and that's just a metaphor for Midwest in the 60's. Marriage upheaval (a Volvo 144-classic lemon partially to blame) led to a year of traveling across America in a van and working as an automobile mechanic in CitroŽn and VW dealerships, and then starting a barter-economy garage in Tucson. I also worked as a labor organizer in San Francisco and Jack Anderson published verbatim an editorial I wrote about a workplace condition. Eventually, I completed studies in Natural Resources Management and Ecology in Ann Arbor. A few details were omitted here for brevity, like a year spent as a lab tech doing radiation tagged cancer research at UMich. Medical School. Yes, lab researchers are a crazy bunch so I swapped lab research for field biology.

Skipping graduation, I flew off to Colombia to be with a friend in the Peace Corps, without a Peso in my pocket or a word of Spanish. We lived at 11,000 feet on the sides of an active volcano with smoking fumaroles and hot springs at the door. I was smitten with tropical habitats, falling in love with the cloud and rainforests and cattle ranch dotted savannahs. Too bad this beautiful Cauca Valley of the 70's was precisely the area later taken over by Colombian drug producers. I requested a French speaking country when I applied for my own Peace Corps appointment. Ms. Newman would have been skeptical. I wound up in Venezuela with a cabin in the rainforest for 2 years as a national park planner, and 8 more years working for the newly created Venezuelan Ministry of the Environment, as Chief of Education for Urban and Regional Parks, Assistant Director of the National Wildlife Service and as the sole in-house environmental biologist for a 400 person engineering firm building hydro-electric dams, while commuting to doctoral studies at UMASS Amherst. My children's book about the water cycle earned a national library book award at an international competition in Spain. There was some fun though, like flying single engine planes, sitting on the Board of Venezuela's National Audubon Society, visiting indigenous tribes and lots of camping.

Although idyllic, in 1981, friends with foresight started pressuring me that Venezuelan life was soon to become impossible, so I did the inevitable: applied to a US law school . The rest is history: doctorate finished, law diploma achieved, first job accepted in Miami, marriage and divorce. I also spent years as an executive in a large plant nursery, and a custom aluminum extrusion plant. Currently I am doing construction oversight and working as a realtor.

Looking back at good fortune and a miraculous ability to survive under constantly changing circumstances, I feel fortunate to have shared my parents good retirement in Delray, passion for the performing arts, my community, politics, cooking for good friends, 2 marriages, a love for Asian cultures and a fabulous daughter who is 22 and living in Rome finishing college.

Let's rejoice together that we all made it this far to a 50th reunion. Carpe diem.