Last week, author Billie Letts passed away from pneumonia: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/05/arts/billie-letts-where-the-heart-is-novelist-dies-at-76.html?_r=0
I had a chance to meet Ms. Letts when she attended the Association for Women in Communications Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma as an invited speaker and helped to pass out Clarion Awards. I was lucky enough to win a Clarion for my article “Homeless with Cancer” in CR: Collaborations–Results, renamed Cancer Today, and to stand by Ms. Letts for a photo or two. (See my post on October 17. 2011: “A special night.”) She was a humble woman, beginning her presentation with the comment that she was shocked to receive a phone call from the conference organizers asking her to fill a role that had been occupied by a multitude of well-known women in the media (Ann Curry being the most recent example at the time). Letts spent many years teaching English while she wrote in her spare time, which I imagine was sparse given the stacks of student essays she likely had to read.
I didn’t realize until I read the obituary in The New York Times that unlike many of Oprah’s picks for books/authors to be featured on her daytime show, the intimate book club gathering for Ms. Letts’ novel Where the Heart Is took place at a snack bar in a Wal-Mart outside Chicago.