Saturday, April 05, 2008

Marietta Jaeger is having a birthday!

Please look for more photos and stories to come. Send them to me, Connie, at

MARIETTA: Love at first sight! by Bill Pelke

I will never forget the first time I met Marietta. It was love at first sight. It was in the fall of 1992, I had talked with Marietta on the phone several times and she was making a four-hour drive from her home in Detroit, Michigan to my house in Portage, Indiana.

The Journey of Hope was in the midst of planning their first event, a 17-day speaking tour throughout the state of Indiana. I had asked Bob Gross to help us organize that event and one of his plans was to do a filming at my home to help promote the Indiana Journey,

Bob had arranged for a film crew from the Central Mennonite Committee to take several hours of footage of murder victims family members talking about our losses as we sat around our sectional couch and talked about why we were opposed to the death penalty.

My cousin Judi and I would be talking about the murder of our grandmother, Nana. A co-worker and friend of mine, Maxine joined us to talk about the murder of her son. A woman came up from Indianapolis to talk about the murder of her husband and Marietta was coming to talk about her daughter Susie -- who at the age of seven had been kidnapped and eventually murdered by serial killer in Montana.

I knew that Marietta had recently been on a speaking tour in Japan on behalf of Amnesty International and would be talking about forgiveness. Forgiveness was a very important issue to me and I had been speaking a lot on that subject for about five years.

Everyone began to arrive and I was anxiously waiting to meet Marietta. I was standing at the door when her car pulled into our driveway. I watched her get out of the car and it was love at first site. For her to drive all that way to help the Journey was very special to me.

As we sat in the living room we began to share our experiences. It was a very emotional time for my cousin Judi. She rarely had talked about Nana’s death and her feelings about Paula Cooper, the girl who was sentenced to death for Nana’s murder.

One by one we told our stories and then Marietta told hers. I had never heard a more powerful story of forgiveness in all of my life. It was very obvious to me that we had both were able to bear witness to the healing power of forgiveness.

That evening began a love that continues to this day. In 1994 Marietta and I were joined by SueZann Bosler to make a documentary for the Discovery Channel, From Fury to Forgiveness, a term that Marietta used quite often in explaining her Journey.

Two years later Marietta and I took on the task of lead organizers for the California Journey in 1995. Two years later Marietta joined SueZann, Sam Reese Sheppard, George White and me to be the Founders of the Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing when we incorporated into a non-profit organization.

In 1997 I had the great honor of introducing Marietta at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s annual banquet in Houston, Texas -- where she was presented the Abolitionist-of-the-Year award. I will always cherish that honor.

Several years later I had the great pleasure of driving to Detroit and reading a portion of scripture at the wedding of Marietta and “Rancher Bob” Lane.

Marietta had always said she felt her spirit was calling her to Montana, and now she was married and in love with a rancher from Montana that loved her just as much.

Marietta only deserves the best in life and Bob Lane fills that bill. Nobody deserves a great life more than Marietta and I am so happy to see her have it and thrilled to be able to wish her a happy birthday.
MARIETTA JAEGER--find more here

The Photo just below sent by Kathy Harris. Barb Hood on left, Kathy in the middle with Marietta Jaeger on the right--taken at Kathy's house.

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