World War II doctor makes local house call to talk with book club


October 28, 2002|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

JUDY PHIBBS of Ellicott City had a treat in store for her book group: The author of the book they were reading, Our War for the World: A Memoir of Life and Death on the Front Lines in WWII, flew in from Tucson, Ariz., to speak to them at her house.

Of course, Phibbs had a little pull with the author - her father, Dr. Brendan Phibbs.

"It was a wonderful evening," said Judy Phibbs, who invited about 20 people to hear her 85-year-old father speak about his book.

"Some people had read the book well enough that they had put little Post-It notes in, so he was just charmed," she said.

The discussion lasted for several hours. Wine, coffee and hors d'oeuvres were served.

"It just brought up a lot of kind of general questions about when would you go to war again, will there be another war like that, what about the whole situation in Iraq," she said.

Many of the guests had parents who had served in World War II.

"We discussed the whole history of the period," she said. "It went on for several hours."

Brendan Phibbs is a cardiologist at University of Arizona Medical Center. He won a regional PEN award for the memoir when it was first published by Little, Brown in 1987 as The Other Side of Time: A Combat Surgeon in World War II. It was re-released by the Lyons Press in June with its new title.

Judy Phibbs said her book group meets every six weeks or so and usually discusses a work of fiction. But after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, the group decided to read Night by Elie Wiesel, which describes Wiesel's experience in a concentration camp during World War II.

Then Judy Phibbs read from her father's book, which has a chapter about his experiences liberating a concentration camp. The discussion went so well that she decided to ask her father to join the group for a visit.

Brendan Phibbs and his wife arrived in Ellicott City on Oct. 16 and left Oct. 21. On Oct. 17, he went to Virginia to speak to the book group of Judy's brother, Hugh Phibbs.

A highlight of the Ellicott City visit was when Brendan Phibbs spoke with Suzanne Posner of Ellicott City, whose father had recently passed away.

"She still has all his war letters, and he was able to fill in some of the details," Judy Phibbs said.

Posner's father had parachuted into three different battles during the war.

"Some people, when they got wounded, were actually celebrating because it meant they would get out of the war," Judy Phibbs explained. "But her father was wounded more than once and just kind of signed up again."

Judy Phibbs said her father charmed her book club friends.

"You would never know he's 85," Judy Phibbs said. "He's really a young 85."

Cool kid

Kavita Shukla of Ellicott City has been chosen by ym magazine as one of "20 coolest girls in America." Shukla, 18, recently graduated from Centennial High School and now attends Harvard University.

She holds two patents for her work with fenugreek, a spice that retards food spoilage, and she is writing a book for teen-age scientists about how to find funding and other support.

She appears in the November issue alongside such well-known cool girls as Kelly Osbourne, daughter of rocker Ozzy, and Olympic gymnast Tasha Schwikert.

A fine tradition

For the 35th year, the Mount Hebron-Orchards Community Association is organizing a Halloween parade through the Mount Hebron section of Ellicott City.

The parade will begin at 7 p.m. and will include musicians and marchers from the Mount Hebron High School Marching Unit. Then it will move to the lawn of the Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, where the marching band will play and children will be invited to parade in their costumes.

Students of note

Ellicott City resident Stephanie Hale, a senior at Lynchburg College in Virginia, has been cast as the character Aurora Borealis in the college's production of the interactive mystery Murder in Deadwood.

Greg Kramp and Natalie Hall, both of Ellicott City, recently participated in a West Virginia whitewater adventure as part of a new-student experience offered to freshmen at Salisbury University in Maryland. Nick Kolesar of Ellicott City recently participated in an Algonquin canoe trip as part of his freshman trip. Both adventures combined physical challenges with an orientation program for new students.

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