Lake Oswego friends reunite after 52 years
After more than 50 years apart, two close friends living in Lake Oswego say the absent decades felt more like weeks.
"It's absolutely wonderful," Jane White said. "We picked up after 50 years as if it had only been a week since we'd seen each other."
White and her friend, Jane Kirkpatrick, discovered just last month that they were both residents of The Stafford Retirement Community in Lake Oswego.
The two lost touch after graduating from the college, only to discover many years later that they were living just one floor apart.
"I was looking at the Stafford Bulletin and I saw September birthdays and it said 'Jane Kirkpatrick,'" White recalled. "I thought, 'Could that be the Jane that I know and love?'"
White spoke with the front desk and they showed her a photo of Kirkpatrick.
"I almost fell down. There she was," White said. "We both have electric wheelchairs, so I took off in my electric wheelchair down to where her apartment was."
White said when Kirkpatrick first answered the door, she didn't recognize her until White called Kirkpatrick by her college nickname, "Trucker."
"We just started laughing and just sat down on the couch, held hands and played catch-up," White said.
White and Kirkpatrick met at the University of Oregon. Both women were part of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
"The memories we had are kind of X-rated in a way," said Kirkpatrick with a laugh.
White remembers when they were freshmen and were in charge of organizing a house dance for the seniors.
"We had a wonderful house dance. Unfortunately, everyone else on the campus thought it was wonderful and they all came to the Theta house," said White, adding that when the police showed up, she told them she thought their costumes were great. Apparently, the chaperones who were supposed to attend the event didn't show up and the two got in trouble.
Kirkpatrick had also decorated church keys for the seniors for opening beer bottles.
"I thought it was a grand idea," Kirkpatrick said.
"They weren't too thrilled with us," said White about the dean and police.
After graduating in 1964, the two were in each other's weddings. Kirkpatrick married in 1964 and White followed in 1965.
But the two lost touch in 1969 when White traveled to the Philippines for three years. While overseas, White worked as a media consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development and an editor for the World Health Organization.
When she returned to the states, White lived in Los Angeles, where she ran J.B. White & Co. — her own marketing and communications firm.
Meanwhile, Kirkpatrick worked as an elementary school teacher for about nine years before focusing on ceramics and creating porcelain jewelry. She resided in the Dunthorpe area between Portland and Lake Oswego before moving to The Stafford in 2017.
White, who was most recently living in Bend, relocated to The Stafford in 2018 — the same year Kirkpatrick moved to the assisted-living unit.
"About five years ago, the doctors told me I couldn't live in the high altitude anymore," White said. "I was having trouble breathing, so they said I needed to get to a lower altitude."
Now the two have weekly dinners, coffee and chats.
"We're laughing and giggling," White said. "We both have just smiled endlessly."
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