Letter from Tucson to Nantucket

Many of you know Will Conroy, a summer resident of the island for most of his life. He’s a screenwriter of “Transsiberian” along with Brad Anderson, and the director of “Catalina Trust”, both of which were shown at the Nantucket Film Festival. Will now runs the Arizona Inn, which has won numerous awards including AAA four diamond status, Conde Nast’s Traveler Gold List, Travel and Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels in the World, Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Award for Best Service in the United States, the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and many others.

Will is pictured here with his wife Julia. I asked Will if he would share his feelings about the recent shooting in Tucson.

Hi Gene,

I find the death of the 9 year old girl too difficult to consider, and my thoughts have been centered on Gabrielle Giffords, who I can say first hand is an absolutely lovely person. The intensive care unit at the University Medical Center is just a couple hundred yards from where I sit.

Like many other people in Tucson, I’ve taken my own young daughter to see Gabby speak, because she’s the kind of woman you’d love your daughter to grow up to be. I feel certain my friends on Nantucket would like Gabby a great deal if they knew her. She’d fit right in, whether at the Flake or the Company of the Cauldron.

A few years ago, in 2006 or whenever it was, Gabby announced her first Congressional candidacy one sunny day here at the Arizona Inn, where I am now. She did so partly because Isabella Greenway, my great-grandmother who opened the Inn in 1930, had been Arizona’s first ever Congresswoman. Gabby knew all about this of course, since she’s always tremendously well-informed about all things Arizona, whether current or historical, and she mentioned the Gutzon Borglum statue of Isabella’s husband, the mining pioneer John Greenway, which, at the time, represented Arizona in Statuary Hall in Washington.

Maybe a year later, a few weeks after she’d returned to Tucson from her swearing-in ceremony in D.C., Gabby came in (alone, in a sweatshirt) to Ike’s coffee shop while I was reading a paper there one morning. She came over, cheerful as always, and flipped open her phone to show me some pictures she’d had taken beside the Greenway Statue in the hours immediately after she was sworn in. The statue was fine, you know, but as she enthusiastically recounted her first day in Congress, I promise you it was Gabby who was most impressive. So very smart, energetic, moderate, thoughtful, practical, empathetic and happy. I remember thinking I couldn’t imagine anyone I’d rather have representing me in government. Then, suddenly, she got up to go to work. “I’m so glad I ran into you!”, she said.

This is what occurs to me Gene – I just now wrote it out, which felt good actually – I’ve been carrying the memory around in my head for quite some time.


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