Columnist lives complicated life

David Stevens

Courtesy photo Wendel Sloan's complicated life includes regular encounters on the ENMU tennis court.

Courtesy photo
Wendel Sloan’s complicated life includes regular encounters on the ENMU tennis court.

Editor

Everybody knows Wendel Sloan. He’s director of media relations at Eastern New Mexico University, commissioner of the college’s noon-time hoops league and a Sunday columnist for this newspaper.

I’ve known Sloan for 20 years. We used to get in trouble together writing columns for the Amarillo newspaper.

But does anyone really know a 62-year-old dark-chocolate lover who quotes Nido Qubein, uses a putter on the fairway and hands out business cards claiming he’s a free agent center fielder?

I had a few questions for him. Here’s a sampling of what he had to say:

He’s had 16 surgeries, and was stationed on Guam when he was in the Navy.

Someday he hopes to revisit Cherokee Village, Ark., in the Ozarks, where he was the editor of the weekly newspaper 40 years ago.

One time he laughed: “While listening to my father tell a story about his brother and him hopping a boxcar during the Depression, hiding from a guard … then hearing the voice of a stranger, hiding under some papers in the same boxcar.”

A lost love: “Camille and I were together for 30 years until she died unexpectedly five years ago from a brain aneurism. She was laid-back and appreciated any kind of art or creativity. She was also an excellent cook.”

His favorite inspirational quote is from Qubein, a motivational speaker and chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Co.:

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”

Sloan’s been employed more than 50 years. His first job: “When I was about 12, I drove a truck for my older brothers in the hay fields of East Texas.”

His first car: “It was a 1967, 327 (cubic inch engine) Camaro that had won some drag races under its previous owners. I had two accidents in it, including taking out part of a barbed-wire fence while helping a girlfriend celebrate her birthday.”

His first date: “It was with that same girlfriend, who was the town doctor’s daughter. We went cruising to a drive-in … in my ’67 Camaro. Her father later performed two hernia surgeries on me, so I’m glad that I was nice to her.”

His parents have passed, but he said they’re still his heroes.

His dad never graduated high school, “yet could do any mathematical calculations he needed for his carpentry work,” Sloan said. “He was outwardly quiet, but had a sly sense of humor and was a great storyteller. When my brothers were in high school, he could out-run them.”

His mother: “I still think about my mother every day. The suffering she endured the last couple years of her life seemed incredibly unfair for such a great woman. I would have done anything to have given her comfort. I considered her my best friend and miss our conversations desperately.”

Like most of us, Wendel Sloan is complicated:

“People seem to think that because I question religion it makes me anti-religious and harsh toward them,” he said. “I am actually just anti-anything that people expect you to take on faith.

“Even though I may question someone’s views, that does not mean I do not feel warmly toward them personally. If anything, I am defending the petty way that God is portrayed.”

David Stevens is editor for the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune. If you’d like to participate in his “I have a few questions” surveys, contact him at:

dstevens@pntonline.com

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