Top Three Tuesday: Mrs. Zila Stories

Tracey, Linde, and Julie in December of 1988

Julie and I are remembering Linde Zila this week.  She died last Thursday and her Funeral was yesterday.  She became the Girl’s Dorm Supervisor in September 1987, at the same time that Julie came to Great Lakes for the first time.  She was a lady that was so wonderful she had to be experienced to be believed.  You always say about people at their funerals that they were “nice to everyone.  never complained, always thought the best of people, always gave them the benefit of a doubt”  but that is so true of Linde.  She was courage and grace and class, dignity, and love, all rolled into one.

I read recently that Love is “ascribing worth to someone else at your own expense”.  Linde was always loving people.  This week, Top Three Memories of Linde Zila (and these were just what Julie and I came up with in about 10 minutes).

1. Just after midnight, during the winter of 1988, two guys from town climbed onto the roof of the Girl’s dorm and cut through a screen and entered through a second floor window.  They snuck downstairs and came into Julie’s room.  Julie’s roommate Bev woke up and carried on a partially conscious conversation with one of the intruders.  His name was Bob, and he was visiting. The moment he left the room Bev, jumped down of the top bunk and through a throttled shout, called Julie until she woke up.

“Julie! Julie!  There was a man in the room, right there!”, she hissed.


“Right there!  He just left!  He just shut the door.”

In a fog Julie replied, “Well he’s gone now, go back to sleep.”   Bev persisted until Julie became aware that something was amiss.  There were footsteps up and down the stairs and back and forth through the hallway; someone was definitely there.  They locked the door of their room and moved two dressers and a bunk bed against the door in a flash.  The only weapons they could find were two butter knives.  Armed and huddled in a corner, they eventually they decided that they had to scream and try to wake everyone up. Outside Julie’s room, ‘Bob’ and his friend turned the corner and came face to face with 5′ 1″  Linde ZIla.

“How did you two get in here?”, Linde asked, in a most uncharacteristically indignant voice.  “Um, through the door?”, Bob replied.

Rising to a stature well beyond her height,  “Well, you better leave the way you came” and with that she escorted them out the front door.  There is nothing more indomitable than a person, who is in the right and completely fearless.

2.  Julie arrived Labour Day weekend, 1987 and had not yet unpacked when Linde came out to meet Julie and her sister Tracey.  Tracey introduced herself as the RA (Residential Assistant) for the coming school year and was warmly welcomed to her new job.  “Are you Tracey’s sister?”  Linde asked.  “Yes”, Julie replied.  A coy smile spread across Linde’s face as she said,  “You’re new here aren’t you?”  She wrapped Julie up in a big hug and with that Julie arrived at Great Lakes.  Julie met me two days later (she was on a roll!) and though Pat Mansfield wasn’t sure about me at the time (she warmed up to me later) Linde always said I was, “a nice boy”.  Come to think of it, she thought every guy was, “a nice boy”, everyone except Bob, whom you met in #1.  But I’m sure she would give him another chance, if he came back during visiting hours and apologized.

3. Linde loves the Prodigal.  There are so many stories where Linde would wait up, or stay up with ‘her girls’ when they needed her.  Julie remembers in 1989, when she had the RA job that she and Linde waited up in the common room until the wee hours waiting for one of the girls to return.  This particular lost ewe had come to GL with a drug problem and had been in trouble already that year for possession.  She had snuck out of the dorm after hours to purchase or sell but was discovered missing before she could get back.  Art Ford was out in town looking for her while Linde waited up back at the dorm.  “The poor dear”  she kept saying between pauses.  She made every girl in that dorm feel like she was one of her own.  When Art introduced her as the new Residental Supervisor in 1989 he said, “I can think of no one better to look after our girls than someone who successfully raised five of her own.” (plus a son to boot) Linde would say that,  “unlovable people are just people who haven’t been loved enough yet”.  At her funeral yesterday people remembered her saying “she would take every stone she found and polish it until a diamond would appear.”

Oma has laid aside this life and headed home, perhaps a bit early, but it’s understandable after all.  She has so many people to welcome.

Devotional in the Girls Dorm, 1988


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