|Linda accepts flowers which were a small sign of gratitude for her help with The Amaz!ng Meeting. Her husband Karl Shallenberger, a longtime JREF volunteer and advisor, stands to the left.|
It is with both sadness and a warm heart that I'm announcing a member of the James Randi Educational Foundation's team has left the organization. A few days ago, Linda Shallenberger retired. She had been wanting to retire for many years, and recently felt it was the right time. Although I had only worked with her directly for four short months, I came to see in her what everyone else close to her saw: diligence, duty, and above all, a sense of devotion to what the foundation stands for, and to Randi himself.
Linda had been with the the JREF nearly since its beginning. Over the years, she helped organize the Amazing Meetings, managed our office in Ft. Lauderdale, handled HR and payroll and the accounting and finances, tracked and fulfilled merchandise orders, in addition to serving as our one-woman fundraising and development department. She consistently went "above and beyond," often doing more work than was required merely to get the job done. And for many skeptics at the grassroots, Linda is their point of contact at the JREF.
We'll miss her, even though we know she will always be part of our family. Reading Randi's message about her retirement will really give you a feeling of how dear she is to everyone at the JREF:
This is a love letter.
Linda Shallenberger joined the JREF team years ago, after we'd suffered through a sequence of other office managers who were - ummm - less than compatable with our goals. With Linda there was no such problem; she had - and has - no illusions about how the world works, that is, when and if it works. Together we shared our astonishment over the nonsense that presented itself for all the years she held forth in our front office, always prepared for some new fragmentation of common sense that would be presented to us, some fresh challenge that would walk in our front door, or an incomprehensible document that we'd have to pore over, trying to decide what some woo-woo was trying to beguile us with. While all these distractions assailed us, the bills got paid, checks got deposited, bizarre emergencies were dealt with, the trash was disposed of, and when I came down with coronary problems and - just recently - my chemotherapy adventure, Linda and her husband Karl were always there to encourage and support me.
Now that Linda has retired from the fray, though she'll always be within reach when needed, we're realizing all the more just what she has meant to us over the years, and she knows full well the love we bear her, and always will. We love you, and we'll miss you. And we're ready to jump if and when you need us. I'll invoke one of my very favorite closing lines here, from the film Casablanca, substituting "Linda" for "Louie": "Linda, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
Best wishes to you and Karl in your retirement, Linda. And thank you for being there for the JREF and for Randi all of these years. While I'd say we'll miss you, on the other hand, we know you'll continue to be involved in our efforts, and we look forward to enjoying this next TAM with the both of you.