Max and Minnie Voelcker left more than their farm behind

Front Cover of "Last Farm Standing on Buttermilk Hill: Voelcker Roots Run Deep in Hardberger Park"


Never realized how much virtual travel it would take to get a book to press. Certainly, Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker could not have envisioned their story would do the amount of traveling it has done this summer; of course, they would be shocked to find their story told at all.   

Editor Lynnell Burkett of LBJ CommuniCo of San Antonio found our book designer, Amy Layton, in Sanger, Texas. The indexer (I never had given any thought at all to how indexes arrived in the back of books.), Sherrye S. Young, PhD, of RedLine Editorial Services worked from her home in White Bluff, Tennessee. I tracked down Char Miller in Delaware.  He read Last Farm Standing on Buttermilk Hill while relaxing on a beach, then wrote the blurb for the back of the book when back in Claremont, California, where he serves as director and W.M. Keck professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College.   Former Mayor Phil Hardberger docked his sailboat at some unknown port to email in his blurb.  And now Last Farm temporarily has moved to the offices of Four Color Print Group in Louisville, Kentucky, before its journey to somewhere in China.   

Back Cover of "Last Farm Standing on Buttermilk Hill"


And then we wait.  And wait.  While Max and Minnie were doing all of this virtual travel with the click of a send button, that is not how they will return.  Their journey back to San Antonio actually will be aboard a proverbial slow boat from China.  Their story will arrive, no longer in only a virtual state, at the end of October.   

As I packed up the pieces of paper and photographs documenting their lives that have encircled my desk for so long, I wondered what good the couple has accomplished posthumously since I completed writing the manuscript more than a year ago.   

The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Trust has announced their Scholar and Young Investigator Awards for 2010.  The Young Investigator Awards are designed to support young scientists conducting medical research to find cures for cancer, heart disease, arthritis, muscular dystrophy, retinitis and/or macular degeneration of the retina.  Recipients are provided $150,000 per year for three years ($450,000).  The Scholar Awards provide a one-time award of up to $500,000 to each recipient and are intended to foster development and productivity of outstanding, established scientists conducting medical research to find cures for the same diseases.   

Investigator Award recipient Alexander Bishop, PhD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) is striving to determine cisplatin survival factors to augment ovarian cancer treatment.  UTHSCSA’s Doug E. Frantz, PhD, is working on the development of novel stem cell-based therapeutics to treat heart disease and cancer.  Lorena M. Havill, PhD, of the Southwest Foundation for Medical Research, is studying genetic contributions to knee osteoarthritis risk.  Sunil Sudarshan, MD, PhD, of UTHSCSA is delving into the metabolic links to renal cancer.  Scholar Award recipient Tyler J. Curiel, MD, MPH, also of UTHSCSA, is devoting his energies to the development of effective and tolerable age-specific tumor immunotherapy.  

Pretty amazing that the frugality of two former dairy farmers with little formal education is contributing so much to the advancement of medicine.  Makes me even more proud to have been privileged to get to know them, if only from the scraps and traces they left behind, and to preserve some remnant of their lives on paper.    

Bon voyage Max and Minnie, and, as I resume my other writing projects, I already miss your presence in my study.   

Note Added on September 15The Twig Book Shop, 200 East Grayson in the Pearl Brewery complex, will host a book-signing welcoming Max and Minnie back from China from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16. 

November 17 UpdateGifts with enduring ramifications….

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