Community, connection and a years-long friendship
For Ogden-resident Kathy Gambles, being a public school teacher and librarian was more than just a job.
For decades, she embraced the role of mentor and friend to hundreds of students who stepped into her library.
David Joy was one of those students, and is now a teacher, too. Last September, he invited Kathy to join him during the StoryCorps Mobile Tour stop in Ogden to talk about prioritizing community, connection, and what they've learned from each other during their years-long friendship.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
David Joy: The first thing that I think that stands out to me that I’ve learned from you is how to be or how to actively aim to be positive and happy, but also be OK with and honor your feelings when you’re not.
Kathy Gambles: My mantra of many, many years has been “harmony and opposites. I’m in charge of celebrations.” The thing that’s important is not pretending that the hard stuff isn’t there, or that it doesn’t matter. It’s honoring that.
DJ: I remember when we found out that my oldest was going to have to live at Shriners Hospital for a month. You were one of the first people I called because I knew you would have some way of comforting us when we had just gotten some of the hardest news of our lives. And I remember that “harmony and the opposites. I’m in charge of celebrations” was one of the things that you really made sure that I kept in mind. And that really helped us through that time.
KG: You generate an OK-ness with not-OK things. It kind of brings me to something else that I’ve learned from you, and that is the way that you fuel opportunities for ongoing connection with people. What helps you connect with people meaningful to you?
DJ: There’s just so many incredible people and I like to learn from them, I like to hear from them and experience different things. Especially with you, I always enjoyed going into the library and having you there and it was always such a positive and genuinely happy interaction. I don’t know, it was always just a safe place.
KG: It’s an incredible gift to be a teacher/librarian. The library felt like an enchanted place where kids could think and be and do anything they wanted to do. And, it was a very therapeutic place for me when my life was really challenging, and to be embraced with just that genuine love and connection.
DJ: I’ve always admired how active and contributing you are to our little world around here. It’s something that I look to try and live up to. One thing that I’ve been wondering: How you’d like to be remembered?
KG: I would like to be remembered as someone who has reverence and respect, and treats others with love and kindness. I hope the message gets through for people to connect and know how much they matter, and what a difference they make. If I had one statement that I would make, it would be: loosen your grip on opinion, and expand your horizons.
DJ: I don’t think it can be overstated the difference that you make and that you have made in the lives of so many people.
KG: Thank you.
DJ: Thank you.
KG: Ditto! I giantly celebrate the gift that you and your family are in my life.
DJ: Thank you, we feel the same about you.