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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Life Is Like A Melodrama

Bald and groggy from chemotherapy, Pat Grounds smiles weakly in agreement with her husband, Sherrill.

“I don’t think you can give up,” he says, pushing his chair a hair closer to Pat’s bed on Sacred Heart Medical Center’s seventh floor.

Sherrill has filled the role of loving husband for 41 years, but audiences in Wallace know him better as the mustachioed Snidely Whiplash of the Sixth Street Melodrama.

His tenor tones incite audiences to boo and hiss all summer long. Offstage, that velvet voice relates another melodrama - the one that’s unfolded in his home for the past 40-plus years. Pat’s lung and brain tumors are just the latest twist.

The tumors are no worse than the polio that left her a quadriplegic at 15 in 1951. Or the leukemia that threatened their adopted son’s life in 1985. Or the cancer that took her right breast in 1989, then her left breast in 1993. Or the 32-year prison sentence their other adopted son is serving for murder.

“We’ve had quite a life,” Sherrill says quietly.

Nothing has stopped the couple.

They taught school in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Kellogg, even though college teachers tried to dissuade the wheelchair-bound Pat from such a career.

After work, they involved themselves with the Silver Valley’s community theater, then helped start the melodrama in 1984. Both retired from teaching a few years ago to devote themselves to the melodrama.

Their work has paid off. The melodrama is Wallace’s pride and joy.

Sherrill directs and acts. Pat writes the outrageous scripts and does publicity for the plays.

Just as in one of Pat’s plays, cancer is losing in her personal melodrama and goodwill triumph.

“Oh, she’s on the road,” Sherrill says with complete confidence. “She’ll be back at the melodrama next week.”

Wallace’s Sixth Street Melodrama will perform a variety show at 2, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday to raise money for Pat Grounds’ medical bills. Call 752-8871 or 752-3081 for details. Or send donations to the Pat Grounds’ fund at Wallace’s First Security Bank.

Cycle king

Hayden Lake’s Jason DiGiammarco was amazed he won the first mountain bike race he entered - the Jimmy Heuga Mountain Bike Express at Lookout Ski Area last week. Jason, who’s 13, raised $300 for multiple sclerosis and enough points from his racing to take the top trophy.

But better than the trophy is the trip he won to Vail, Colo., to compete in the Pro-Am National Finals.”I don’t want to goof up,” Jason says.

One hitch, though. Jason needs to raise a total of $1,000 for multiple sclerosis to take the trip. He’s up to $550 now.

Write checks to the Jimmy Heuga Center and send them to Jason at the Lookout Pass Bike Shop, 1850 E. Seltice Way, Post Falls, Idaho 83854.

The concert’s over

Sandpoint’s Carolyn Hatch didn’t just teach violin, she wove music into her students’ lives. During 18 years in North Idaho, Carolyn taught hundreds of kids using fiddle tunes and playing her violin behind her back.

Carolyn’s Fiddler’s Hatchery turned out a slew of musicians appreciated by the top music educators in the nation. But she took her last bow in Sandpoint this month and is heading for her new home in Creston, British Columbia.

Who’s special in your community? Share their qualities with Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814; fax to 765-7149; or call 765-7128 and we’ll chat.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo