A Son's Last Loving Letter to His Mother, As Long Beach Says Farewell To Helen Kellogg
(May 22, 2004) -- Long Beach said farewell on May 22 to Bixby Knolls icon Helen Kellogg.
The mother of sons Jeffrey (President LBCC Board of Trustees, former 8th district Councilman), Keith (Retired U.S. military Lt. General), Michael (Superior Court Judge) and daughter Kathie (PhD, Clinical Psychologist) passed away on May 15, surrounded by her family in the Bixby Knolls home she'd occupied for over half a century. She was 88.
Among those attending Mass at All Souls Cemetery were [not a complete list] former LB Mayor Ernie Kell and wife Councilwoman Jackie Kell; Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal and former Councilman Evan Braude; former Councilwoman now Harbor Commissioner Doris Topsy-Elvord; LBHUSH2 founder and Council candidate Rae Gabelich; retired Congressman Steve Horn and wife Nini, LB Community College Trustees Dianne McNinch and Doug Otto; and Appointments Secretary to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Randal Hernandez.
Eulogies were delivered by Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, Mr. Lee Bloome (who read a poem by daughter in law Pam) and Mr. Richard Gaylord.
Mr. Gaylord, a LB realtor and Kellogg family friend, read aloud the text of an unforgettable letter by Michael Kellogg...who had read the letter to his mother on May 12 as they sat outside on the patio of her side yard.
We post the letter's text below with the permission of its author, son Michael. We also post below the eulogy delivered by Mr. Gaylord.
Letter by the Hon. Michael Kellogg
Donít even know how to begin this letter, so I will begin with the obvious. Itís May 12th, remember where you were and what you were doing 59 years ago? Giving birth to Keith in Dayton, Ohio.
Please be patient because I know this is the last letter that I will be able to write to you.
I knew someday that this would happen; I just wish it would have happened much later. I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished during your lifetime. You have guaranteed that each one of your children would succeed. You did, as your father had done before you, provided a better life for each of us, giving us the opportunity to achieve everything we were capable of achieving. You did it with love, discipline, direction, compassion and at great sacrifice to yourself. If I took the time to speak of everything that you have done for each of us, I would be writing a novel and not a letter.
Just remembering what you have done for me; you always found the time much less the energy to be there for me. You were there to help with our schoolwork; you knew the subject matter in all of our classes, and you always got high marks. I wonít ever forget those late nights when we were completing our homework and weíd fell asleep working on the social study assignments, the chemistry or physics experiments, or the unsolved mathematical equations in trigonometry.
When not helping us with our school work, it was off to Brownís or Proctorís sporting goods. It was ice skates for Kathy; gloves, bats and footballs, basketballs, track shoes, skis, or surfboards for Keith, Jeff and myself. You not only got us the equipment, but then you drove us to and from the various athletic venues.
During college, you didnít miss one of our games. You and Dad would come to Santa Clara and what a pair you were. Then, after the games, we were off to eat at Lucas, across the street from the University.
During your lifetime, you graduated from Long Beach Poly High, three times, from Jordan High School, once; and, you lettered in baseball, football, track and field. You were adopted as the "student fan" along with the Lassarts, sitting in the studentsí section rooting for your two sons. You traveled to Oregon to watch and cheer your youngest son, Jeff, and followed with pride the career of your daughter Kathy.
Great results Mom! Keith, Lieutenant General, United States Army; Jeff, Vice Mayor, and senior City Council member in the City of Long Beach AND President of the Board of Trustees at Long beach City College; Kathy, a clinical psychologist; and me, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge. Not bad for a first generation American of Irish / Scottish descent and a Berkeley graduate to boot!
Excuse this brief interruption for tears by this humble writer. These words flow fast from my hands, but they are being torn piece by piece from my heart and soul.
Each day we said to each other, "I love you." It was our way of saying "hello" and "goodbye." However, it does not make this saying of "goodbye" any easier. Before coming home today I drove past [address redacted by us], walking the sidewalk from the house to the school and back. A home that you brought us to in 1946. Each day on the way home from school , there was always the smell of something either baking in the oven or cooking on the stove; there was the sight of freshly washed clothes hanging in the backyard, and our waiting for Dad to return from work. Dinner was on the table; we got ready for bed, and watched Cecil and Bennie on our one television set in the front room. You never complained about your work load, were always there and always helpful, and you were always supportive.
Your pride in all of our achievements was so obvious, but you never bragged. You simply made statements expressing quiet and humble pride. Hopefully, you understand that what we have accomplished, you accomplished. No one else deserves credit for our success. None of us would have gone to college without the great financial sacrifices that you made; sacrifices you made alone.
Those outside of the family would refer to "Helen and her boys;" we knew better. We were always Keith, Kathy, Jeff and Mike; you never included one and not all the others. You respected our choice of friends, and they were all always welcome in our home. Iíll never forget the weekend drop-ins. Keith and I would show up, without notice, for a sporting weekend with ten or more of our friends from college. Youíd have home cooked fried chicken or baked spaghetti as well as sleeping bag spewed across the living room carpet for all of our friends. Once again, you never complained, were always there, and always helpful and supportive.
After Dad died, you became more than my Mom, you became my best friend. Would you have ever imagined that your sons and daughter would rather take a trip, spend New Years Eve, Christmas or any other occasion with you rather than with anyone else? The truth is, you were just more fun to be around. The memories of those trips, the dinners at Mumís, NFL Super Bowl parties in Las Vegas or the "shop till you drop" trips to the Cerritos Mall. The list of those wonderful moments goes on and on.
I need to get to the house to see you, I will finish this letter by simply saying, FORGET YOU NEVER, WE WILL MISS YOU FOREVER.
Eulogy by Mr. Richard Gaylord
Helen Theresa Costello was one of five sisters and one brother, all born in a house at 821 34th Avenue, San Francisco. Oh how they all loved the City of San Francisco. Each enrolled, attended and graduated from college, and Helen and her sister Kathleen graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.
She met and married Joseph Keith Kellogg, and she trekked around the country during her husband Joe's Army career during World War II. They drove out from Dayton, Ohio to Long Beach, California in 1945.
Helen became actively involved in the education of all of her children which began at Lafayette Elementary School, and went on to Longfellow, Hughes, Long Beach Poly and finished at Long Beach Jordan High School. Helen served in every conceivable capacity. She was President of the PTA, attended the school board meetings on a regular basis, was involved in athletic booster clubs for each of the high schools, and was one of the founding members of the Bronco Bench Foundation, Long Beach Memorial Childrens' Auxiliary, St. Maryís Medical Center Board of Trustees, Sorority and Panalentic associations.
She spent countless summers with her family at Adams Springs, from July through September, in the summer cabins and enjoyed the days by the pool, preparing for tanning with Bain De Soleil. She took trips to Hobbergs, and yes, played Bingo almost every night.
Her son Keith "hit the nail on the head" when he said, "Mom, your decade was the 90ís! You went to more movies, traveled more throughout the United States and Europe, went to more functions, and ate at more restaurants than you did in all the proceeding decades." It was not only the location, but also the company in which she traveled. Her children were her constant companions.
She made great personal sacrifice for God, family and Country in seeing her husband serve in World War II from 1940-1946, and seeing her son Keith serve in Vietnam, Panama, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iraq II, not to mention the other places in the world that Keith was placed in harm's way.
She adored her nephews and nieces, and her grandsons and granddaughters. She had that opportunity to say goodbye to most if not all of them. They too will not forget her. Brian, Mollie, Max, Megan, Trevor, Tyler, Rachel, you know how much she loved you all. She followed every aspect of each of your lives as though you were her own children.
As for her daughters and son in law, Paige, Pam, Rick and Lisa, she loved each one of you, cherished the time she spent with you, thought of you often and expressed her love for each of you in her own unique way.
Lee Broome and Dale Hoy, you donít fall into a specific category or heading, so you two will be referred to as late additions Helenís family. She got to know both of you so well and you became an integral part of her family along with Dick Gaylord, Jimmie Jordan and countless others. She felt your love as we know you did hers.
There was a special place in her heart for Shelly and Warren; you both were so close to Helen; you were a part of her family. We canít forget the gratitude she had for each day she day of her life. Dr. Lee Gellerman, without you, this day we are now celebrating would have come years ago. Thank you for all the care, and that extra effort that you gave to Helen and to her family.
To her children, she said it all, when she asked you to let her go. She decided when, where, how and who would be present; she was with those she loved the most. As hard and difficult as it was to accept, at some point you will look back and cherish those last moments you spent with your Mom.
Helen Kellogg was a pioneer. She was not just a fan at her childrensí sporting event, she knew more about the sports than their coaches! She wasnít just your friend, sheíd fight for a friend; she would give her life for a friend. She wasnít just a political observer, she got involved and made a difference. She wasnít just a mom to her four children, she was a mom to anyone and everyone who needed a mom.
Together, let us Celebrate Helenís Life. Letís Rejoice that we knew her, for there will never be another like Helen Kellogg.
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