Words are Powerful

Memories… About the time I was a fifth grader, I began sitting at the kitchen table with my dad every morning before he left for work. Instead of talking we’d read the newspaper. I’d grab the sports section and any article he’d written. You see, he was a journalist. It’s really where my initial spark came from to be a writer. But I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps. He had long hours and traveled a lot. I wanted to write stories. Of course at that age I had many other dreams and writing took a back seat.bylines

My father passed away many years ago, but left behind a self-published book for family and friends. The 236 pages are filled with many of his columns and news stories. He usually wrote for and about adults, but one particular story was a plea to a young girl. Always my favorite. It is perhaps 35-40 years old and I’ve included it below.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Spring Will Come, Lili Ann—But Without You, It’s Empty

Dear Lili Ann Potter:

Golden leaves that fluttered to the ground last fall will soon be replaced, as is nature’s method, by glistening greenery. Flowers of varied hues will appear. Spring is returning to Colorado.

At the wonderful age of 16, Lili Ann, there is no greater view of spring than from your home atop a mesa overlooking Fountain, Colorado.

The frozen pond on the 50 acres of your parents—Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Potter—will be open and still. The winds will subside. An occasional gentle rain will fall. All will seem right with the world. But it isn’t.

You, with the long, dark red hair and fair complexion, have been gone from home 21 days. For your parents, sister, and brothers that figures out to 504 hours, or 30,240 minutes, or 1,814,400 seconds.

It has been a lonely time. Especially for your dad even though he is going ahead with his work as purchasing agent for the International Typographical Union in Colorado Springs. He has also circulated your picture throughout Colorado.

Remember the night of February 12 before you disappeared from home? Your dad got down on the floor and played jacks with you. Your brown eyes seemed to radiate happiness. There was no hint of trouble, your dad and mom say.

You left no farewell note. But you have been reported seen in Colorado Springs. Also, a truck driver in New Mexico saw a beautiful young girl matching your 5 feet 7 inches, 125 pounds and other features.

Your parents pray to God that you did just leave home. But there is always the fear of foul play. They hope anyone with information about you will call…

Your bicycle awaits you. The poster of Jesus Christ Superstar is still up in your room. Recordings by Jim Croce and John Denver can be enjoyed.

As a junior honor students at Fountain High School, the fun of socials and sports also awaits you. Too, there is the fascinating world of books. You may not realize it now but the opportunity for knowledge at age 16 or 60 is very precious. That’s especially true because you talk of becoming a nurse.

Remember, you and your folks also talked about getting you a used car to tool around in.

To this generation and your loving parents, Lili Ann, you are the promise of tomorrow. Please if at all possible, come home today.


Robert Pattridge, Denver Post Editorial Page Editor



The Potter family was no relation to the more famous fictional one, but there was a bit of magic in the words my dad wrote. After the above plea appeared on the front page of The Denver Post, Lili Ann read the article again and again for almost a week. She finally called home from a mid-western city and the next day a reunion was planned.

Spring arrived along with Lili Ann and the power of words was never so strong.

Coming up next week is another…
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About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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3 Responses to Words are Powerful

  1. Wow, I love your dad’s poetic and deeply personal touch to remind Lili Ann of who she was and how much she was loved. Never saw an editorial like that. Wish we could return to that kind of journalism. I love that it inspired Lili Ann to call her family.

  2. Denise Vega says:

    Yes, words are powerful. Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. It’s too bad we’re seeing fewer and fewer daily newspapers.

  3. What a cool story! That will give a lot of people hope. Thanks for sharing this, Greg.

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