Jed Alan Zluticky Autobiography

Jed Alan Zluticky, born January 28, 1963

I have so many great memories that it's hard to reduce them to just a few paragraphs. I'm fortunate to have been born into a family of such wonderful people. My memories from childhood are filled with events and experiences that I reflect on with fondness. I'll share a few of those memories here.

I'll never forget the time my mom, Janet Kay (Dendurent) decided to take my older brother Jeff and me fishing for the first time. We walked down to the Arkansas River that was at the end of the street we lived on, Mt. Vernon. We only had a little toy fishing pole but it didn't matter to us; we were going fishing! My mom ended up falling into the river that I thought was at least 100 feet deep. I was only four years old so I hadn't leaned yet that the Arkansas River was a mile wide but only a foot deep. I thought I'd seen the last of my mom in all that water! Thankfully, mom was okay. She was, however, a little wet! We didn't catch any fish but we sure had quite an adventure!

My grandmother, Janet Fay Dendurent, was an important part of my life. My memories of her are filled with admiration of her strength and self-confidence. She was a very loving grandmother. I have one lasting memory of her that has never faded. As a student in junior high, I had entered a project in the school's science fair. While I and the other participants were at lunch, the science fair judges had done their evaluations and place first, second, and third place ribbons on some of the projects. When I returned from eating my lunch I was elated to find that I had been awarded a ribbon! I was admiring my ribbon when a small hand-written note caught my attention. It was taped to my project. I removed it and read it. It was from Grandma. While I was at lunch she had stopped by to see me and my work. Her note expressed that she was proud of me. That note meant more to me than any ribbon ever could. As a teenage boy I was pleased to know that I had made my grandmother proud.

My grandfather, Kenneth C. Dendurent, also occupies so much of my memory and my heart. It was my grandpa who filled the male void left in my life after my parents divorced when I was eight years old. He made it a point to be involved in my life and for this I am very thankful! He gave me the most valuable thing a grandfather could -- time. It's been said that to a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E. I have great memories of my time with my grandpa! My greatest memory of my grandfather is of his last words to me. I had gone to Wichita about two weeks before he passed away. We had been visiting at my brother Jeff's home where I was staying. I asssisted my Uncle Don Meyer in getting Grandpa situated into the front seat of their van so they could go home. I gave Grandpa a hug and a kiss goodbye and told him I loved him. His last words to me were: "I love you too, boy."

The most influential event in my life occurred when I was about five or six years old. I remember the whole family gathering together at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport to greet my Uncle David Dendurent as he returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam. I still remember watching in awe as he got off the airplane in his Marine Corps uniform. He looked so important, strong, and sharp! He made such an impression on me that I too enlisted and proudly wore the uniform of the Marines for 14 years of my life! (By the way, I'm still impressed with my Uncle David today!)

I also have great memories of spending time at my Uncle Don and Aunt Margaret's nursery, MEYER AND SONS NURSERY. I had a great time exploring the orchards with my cousins and my siblings. We also got to ride on the tractors and the dune buggy with my Uncle Don. But the best part about the nursery was the fact that they had a swimming pool! I remember spending a lot of great times with my Uncle Don and Aunt Margaret and my cousins Robin and Danny.

My greatest childhood memories are made special because of the wonderful family members that were involved, and the one person that was there with me throughout most of those good times was my best childhood friend, my brother Jeff! We played ball together, rode bicycles together, delivered newspapers together; we really did a lot together. It was great to be his little brother. I can't wait to get together again! See you at the reunion!

Jed A. Zluticky (December 1999).