Tribute by Kevin Boyle
I met Wim Sprenger in Dublin, Ireland at the European Foundation for Working and Living at a joint conference between the foundation and the Ecology of Work conferences Tom Chase would organize. Wim was on the Board of Directors of the Foundation as one of the European Trade Union representatives. I believe Pam Posey and possibly others from our community attended this conference. From the beginning Wim and I realized we were kindred spirits, I had heard this term before but truly had not experienced anything as profound. We had a common vision on the future of work, of unions involvement in the design and development of this work, but most importantly, if unions were going to have a role in the changing of global social and economic structures, unions needed to consider themselves and whether the traditional role and approach of representing working people and their communities was going to be adequate. Our answer was “no”, so we spent all of our work time together discussing alternatives. I know Wim and I hope your observations or participation in these discussions moved this community forward.
I have been a part of some of Wim’s most painful experiences and joyful ones, either together or from afar. The death of his wife, Hilda and spending time with him in his home after this tragedy. I will never forget waking up every morning to his soulful piano playing and the smell of coffee.
Then his relationship with Ike, and the wonderful story of how this came about. I was welcomed into their life as if I was family. And then the death of Ike’s young son and conversations we had about how grateful we are for the health and energy of our children, because it can be taken away. And finally his love and legacy, his grandchildren. The last time I talked to him in the hospital, he had to get off the phone to spend time with them. He thanked me, “For not boring him to death” so he could spend this time with them. He was whimsical to the end.
When Ike informed me of his passing, I have never felt the physical pain from grief that I had that day and days after. This man touched me in ways that I will probably only understand as I continue my journey through life. So to try and bring my feelings to the surface I wrote this poem for Wim…
A WORKERS HEART
For Wim Sprenger and all whom he has influenced through his work, his music and love.
There is something that touches the soul
When united with the passion to dance
To the blues, hip-hop, jazz, even rock and roll.
But it is of little significance,
To the creation of the rhythm, melody, and part,
Which combines the trust and dignity
With the compassion of a workers heart.
It is the heart that recognizes the value
Of another’s sweat and despair,
As the foundation of all that is grown.
It matters not of objectives met
For you see, nourishment
And your strength to share,
Are the accomplishment
Of the seeds you’ve sown.
The death of a rose
Provides the seeds for our gain,
Seeds are the future
Of all that is to come.
Our hope is fed
From a rise in the river
Of workers pain.
We will look to the sun
In nurturing the rose,
To bloom again and again.
There is no greater honor
For a sister or a brother
Than to see all workers stand…
And give silent homage to one another.
While reaching for our children’s hand,
For it is they you must lead
In playing out their part,
Fighting for bread
And sharing the gifts of a workers heart.
Before we continue on this journey
There’s somethings that cannot be left undone.
Passing your torch,
Illuminate your pages,
Written with vision and glory,
Songs to nurture the passion,
And the story
Of a younger workers heart.
In loving memory of a dear colleague, Audrey Bean, who passed away peacefully at home at 68 years of age under hospice care in Montreal, Quebec on April 28, 2015. (Audrey was predeceased by her husband, John Knowles, in 2013.) There are many in the STS Roundtable community who will remember Audrey as a very skilled and dedicated practitioner who was a joy to work with. She was a fine person with a gentle soul—as an external consultant for over 20 years with STS Associates.
Audrey helped design numerous humane and innovative organizations like the GE Bromont plant. She was able to deal with power issues beautifully and work constructively with even the most challenging people. Let us celebrate Audrey’s many accomplishments both in her STS work and many volunteer activities—for at least 20 years, she was involved with L’Abri en Ville, an organization devoted to providing a stable and fulfilling environment for persons living with a mental illness through safe and affordable housing. Her smiling way and pleasant face are a pleasure to recall; she had a kindly word for everyone she met, and died beloved by many. She will always be remembered and will forever remain in our hearts. May she rest in peace.