William K. Gamble

Bill in Duluth MN, Summer of 2022

Bill Gamble was born in 1920. He grew up on a farm in Iowa with no indoor plumbing or electricity. His mother cooked on a wood stove and could tell if it was hot enough just by sticking her hand over it. His sister Dorothy paid for him to go with her on his first airplane ride. He fell in love with flying. During World War II he enlisted in the Navy and flew blimps off the coast of Brazil. He was one of a handful of people who flew both lighter than air and heavier than air during WWII. When he was in Brazil he saw poverty and farms that weren’t producing. It made him think he could make a difference in the world. He could help these farmers.

William Keith Gamble was the first in his family to finish college. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Iowa State University. Later, married with three children, he went back to school and received his Ph.D from Cornell University. Dr. Gamble. He worked for the Ford Foundation as a Specialist in Agriculture and a Country Director in Burma, Mexico and the Caribbean, Colombia and Venezuela, and West Africa. Then he went on to be the Director of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria. From there he became the founding Director of the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) in The Hague, the Netherlands. He was known internationally as somebody who was making a difference.

The farm boy from Iowa traveled to over 90 countries. He was invited to testify at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons. He received the Distinguished Achievement Citation from Iowa State University that reads, “A pioneer in bringing science and technology to tropical agriculture, he has improved living conditions for millions in developing countries.”

He also gave back. The Gamble International Agriculture Scholarship at Iowa State University was made possible through an endowment generously established by William K. Gamble and Sara Virginia Liggett Gamble. Its purpose is to support international experience for graduate students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who intend to pursue a career in agriculture on an international level.

The family lived through several Coups. One in Burma in 1962, and two in Nigeria in July of 1975 and February of 1976. Life was never boring. Travel was always a wild card with delays, cancellations, re-routes, and bad communication. Sometimes we had phones that worked, sometimes we had indoor plumbing, sometimes we had electricity. Sometimes we did not. Through it all my mother entertained exquisitely and supported my father in whatever he did. They were together for 76 years. My mother died in 2019 at 99 years old.

Bill was a fierce opponent on the tennis court as well as the badminton court. He enjoyed a beer before dinner for many years and then turned to red wine. Even at 103 years old he loved a meal out with a good bottle of red wine.

My father wrote a note to my son on the inside cover of his memoirs. It reads, “I want you to do your very best to help achieve a better world and to always be considerate of your fellow man. In doing so, I hope that you, as I have done, can live happily and enjoy life to the fullest”.

He certainly did enjoy life to the fullest!

William K. Gamble
February 10, 1920 – November 25, 2023

He leaves behind two sons, two daughers-in-law, one daughter, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Funny Story

So funny story. Our internet went out on Thursday. It was out from about noon to after 10 pm. It came back on the next morning. In my building that means the TV is also out. And it means the public garage we all use is not accessible. The fancy new system they put in just doesn’t work. You can’t get in or out. That night all the people who work downtown could not get out to go home. And residents could not get in to go home. Somebody didn’t think it through when they installed the new fancy scanners. The company that owns the garage almost had a riot in their hands. They finally dismantled everything and opened all the gates. That meant that this morning the garage was full of homeless people sheltering out of the rain.

One word – idiots! Not really so funny. The down side of technology. I think more and more, we need a back up for technology.

Facebook is reminding me about my trip to Ireland four years ago. Check it out.

Winter is coming. William O’Brian State Park was kind of magical.

Fall is in the Air

My photos look a little out of focus today. Kind of psychedelic. Or is it just me? The sky is an odd color. A rainy, dark day. But color starting as the trees adjust to winter.

I actually got a story published this week. No money but think of the fame! The notoriety!

Today is also gloomy and rainy. But that’s okay. We need rain. Rain is good. Winter is coming.

I read today that scientists think mammals will die out in 250 million years. All the land masses will collide, the sun will get brighter, and carbon dioxide will rise. We will suffocate and melt. I wonder if we will really last that long. Will we morph into something else? Will another species thrive on the new atmosphere? Will we build bio-domes like our science fiction writers predict? It is hard to imagine what 250 million years looks like. The dinosaurs roamed the earth for 165 million years and then all blew up about 65 million years ago. Mammals showed up about 225 million years ago. So we are almost half way through our time here. On the other hand the earth itself is 4.5 billion years old. We are but blips in time. It’s like democracy in Russia. A nanosecond. Apparently Earth has another 4 billion years to go. Don’t think I’ll be around to see it.

I’m reading Isabel Allende’s memoirs and in it she mentions the filming of The House of Spirits. I never knew it was made into a movie so I watched it last night. It was star studded, Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas, Winona Ryder, and a million other people. Of Love and Shadows is another one of her books that was made into a movie. I haven’t read that one but looks interesting.

I read that people who are optimistic and have positive thoughts on aging tend to live longer. I’m feeling positive I am aging.

A friend just found out he is going to Burundi for work. The poorest nation in the world. The most unhappy nation in the world. I first heard about Burundi during the Hutu-Tutsi genocide of the 1990’s. So I have been trying to find positive things about it. It is in the African Great Lakes region bordering on Lake Tanganyika. This is what I found.

They make pretty sisal baskets.

They have pretty birds.

Image: Michael Gwyther-Jones

Nice landscape.

Image: Dave Proffer

Drums are important.

Lake Tanganyika is big. It has hippos.

See, positive, positive, positive.

Down By The Riverside…

I’m gonna lay down that atom bomb
Down by the riverside down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
I’m gonna lay down that atom bomb
Down by the riverside study war no more

I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Pete Seeger

Hug me, squeeze me, love me, tease me
‘Til I can’t, ’til I can’t, ’til I can’t take no more of it
Take me to the water, drop me in the river
Push me in the water, drop me in the river
Washing me down, washing me down
Al Green via Talking Heads

An English Woman in India

An Englishwoman in India, The Memoirs of Harriet Tytler 1828-1858
Edited by Anthony Sattin

Harriet wrote her memoirs when she was in her late 70’s.  She was a Victorian woman and represented her class and period well.

Her grandfather and uncle were prisoner’s of war in France under Napoleon.  Her grandmother and mother lived nearby for 15 years so the family could be together.   After the battle of Waterloo, they were released and returned to England.  That is where her mother met her father while he was on furlough from India.

Harriet was born in 1828 to a British military family in India.  At 11 years old, as was common practice at the time, she was shipped off to England with two younger siblings to continue her education.  When they landing in England, their clothes were so outdated everybody laughed at them.  Her brother was immediately sent on to boarding school where two older brothers were waiting for him.  She and her sister lived with a family they had never met before for about a year, until her aunt came to collect them.  Her aunt was strict and cruel and Harriet hated every minute of her time there.

At seventeen she started her journey back to India to be reunited with her parents who she had not seen for 6 years.  She traveled by steamer and by land until she reached Aden just off the Red Sea.  The group traveling with her were friendly and she had a happy time.  At Aden she received a letter from her brother-in-law in India and feared her sister was sick.  It was worse, her father was dead.  When she finally reached Calcutta, there was nobody to meet her.  She saw her mother two weeks later only to discover that she was on her way back to England with the younger children.  Harriet was to stay with another aunt and uncle who was serving the in Punjab Campaign.  

At 19, she met and married Robert Tytler, a Captain in the British Army who was also a widower with two children.

This woman did not have an easy life.

On May 11, 1857, she was living in Delhi, eight months pregnant with two small children at home.  That was the day of the Great Sepoy Mutiny.  The “Sepoy” was the Indian soldier serving in the British Army.   

Harriet writes:

“It is wonderful to think how unanimous they were, Hindus and Mohammedans, in the one object of exterminating the hateful Christian in India.  On this occasion the Mohammedans and Hindus were one, their bitter antagonism to each other, which had always been our safeguard so far, was for the time overcome.  The gullible Hindus, two to one in each regiment, firmly believed Prithee Rai’s raj would return and then they would be masters of India.  The wily Mohammedans, who were using these poor deluded men as a cat’s paw, encouraged the belief, knowing all along that they would soon find their mistake, for the Mohammedan meant to reign by the edge of his sword, which would also be used to proselytize the poor idol worshippers.”

However Philip Mason notes in the Introduction: “Harriet, of course, like everyone else, has heard of the cartridges (smeared with pork and beef fat) but does not seem to have known that the original offensive cartridges were withdrawn (therefore confirming that the rumor was true).  Like every other young wife in India at the time, she thinks that the Mutiny was a deep-laid plot, instigated by the sons of the king and spread by wicked Muslims who played on the fears of the simple gullible Hindus.”

Harriet ran for her life that day.  She, pregnant, with her two children, 2 and 4 years old, eventually loaded themselves onto an already overloaded carriage and rode hard out of town.  Her husband riding back and forth checking on other people.  The carriage broke to pieces.  They found another one, it also broke down.  They ended up walking to the next outpost where luckily there was no uprising.  

Eventually the British took back Delhi.  Harriet bore 10 children, 8 of whom lived, and spent the rest of her life and expat in India.

What a great story!

Stories from an International Educator

Here We Are & There We Go: Teaching & Traveling with Kids in Tow by Jill Dobbe

Jill and her husband were school teachers in Wisconsin USA when one day they moved half way around the world and their lives changed drastically.

What truly amazed me about this book was that they just jumped headlong into it with no safety net and blinders off.  They made the decision to move to Guam almost on a whim.  They didn’t even know where Guam was.  That was either very gutsy or completely crazy.  And what was even more interesting was that they stuck it out, learned, and grew through it all.  

It didn’t sound like Guam was the dream South Pacific location we all imagined.  It actually sounded pretty challenging.  But they worked through it and learned a lot.  That made their next posting to Singapore a bit easier.   Of course Singapore was probably not a hardship posting. But they were still half way around the world from family and friends in a place with a different culture.  They seemed to breeze through that one.

By the time the got to Ghana they were seasoned travelers.  Although, having lived in Nigeria myself, I know that Ghana was probably not paradise either.  But as they came to understand, there are wonderful things all over the world.  You just have to be open to them.  Jill and her family discovered the joy, frustration, sorrow, and unending surprises one finds when traveling.  

I might be reading something into this but it seemed to me they decided to return to the USA for the sake of the children.  Their children spent their high school years (or most of them) in the USA learning to be US citizens.  This probably made it a much easier transition for them in the long run.  It might have given them a clear identity at a young age.  However, from my experience, it doesn’t work.  My son returned to the USA when he was six and now that he is about to enter college all he dreams about is going overseas.  And it seems their children were the same.  They were happy to continue traveling.

Returning to the USA was a difficult transition for all of them.  Jill says she realized people were not interested in her stories and could not relate.  I know exactly what she means.  It is so far from what people know, it is difficult to imagine and therefore not interesting.  Re-entry is a challenge for all expats but travelers know how to adjust and tweak and adapt.  Jill and her family were no exception.  They had a good few years back home with friends and family but the itch was still there.

At the end of the book they leave the USA again for distant lands and new experiences.  Jill has written two more books: Only in India: Adventures of an International Educator and Kids, Camels & Cairo.

Check them out! Available on Amazon.