Our wives were friends before we met each other. I recall an incident where our wives were stranded after spinning out one winter's night on some black ice on Iron Springs Road coming home from playing Bunco. Louie had told his wife, Petie, that there was no good reason for her and her friends to go out on that cold night. This had to be the one in a hundred times that a husband got to tell a wife, “I told you so,” instead of vice versa.
Interestingly enough, along those same frigid lines, I met Louie early one arctic winter morning when we were both recycling papers for the Prescott Noon Lions Club. I had recently moved to Prescott from Southern California, where I had spent the first 54 years of my life. Unused to temperatures in the low 20s, I was wearing a down hooded parka, heavy gloves, fleeced lined pants, heavy boots and ski gloves. As I and several other Lions were unloading one of our bins into one of our trailers, Louie walked up to help. I found out later, that although Louie had spent decades living in Southern California, he had recently returned from working a couple of years in Minnesota and was acclimatized to freezing weather. Louie was wearing a thin sweat shirt, jeans and running shoes. He took one look at me, turned to the other Lions and asked, “Who is this, Nanook of the North?” I've always appreciated a witty, wise cracking smartass and our friendship grew from there.
As it turned out, Louie had an income tax business on the side and so we had Louie do our taxes. Several other people we knew used Louie to do their income taxes. At one of our Lions Club luncheons, one of the Lions asked me if I knew anyone who did income taxes. Louie was standing nearby and I told my fellow Lion that he ought to use my income tax guy, “Leavenworth” Lou Nemeth. Being a good sport and knowing instinctively that you can show no weakness in any group of men, let alone a pride of Lions, Louie embraced his new moniker. He would tell his clients who asked him about his nickname, that he had a guarantee. If the client got sent to Federal prison for Income Tax Fraud, Louie said he would be in the next cell. He did warn the client that the client would have to make his own agreement with his cellmate, Big Bubba, because Louie wasn't going to get involved in that. (Of course, as scrupulously honest as Louie was, that fraud would never happen.)
Louie and I also had a lot in common. When we were young, we both surfed the California coast. We were also both avid readers of Playboy magazine. Lou, in fact, had a large collection of Playboys. He tossed that set of magazines when he started going with Petie as she strongly suggested that it would be advantageous to their romance if he ditched them.
Politically, however, we were opposites. Louie was a liberal Democrat and I am a conservative Republican. That in no way got in the way of our friendship. Petie once said that we were all such good friends because we shared the same values. This is very true. We and the Nemeths love our families and our country and want the best for each. Our divergent political views didn't stop Louie and I from teasing each other about our political leaning. I would call him a “left wing, commie, pinko cream puff,” or words to that effect. Louie would call me a “right wing, reactionary, redneck Neanderthal”, or words to that effect.
The barbs would continue on the golf course. Lou and I would walk nine holes on Wednesday afternoon. (We would walk, because as Lou would remind me, “only wimps ride in carts.”) As our political position dictated, I had a slice and almost every drive would go to the right. Louie had a kind of a hook because most of his drives went to the left. When I would hit a ball to the right, Lou would say, “Hey, nice Newt Gingrich ball”. When Lou hit one to the left I would point out, “Looks like your back in Pelosi country.” Like all good liberals, Lou knew how to get into a conservatives head. When I would approach a ball, and there was a tree anywhere in sight, Louie would say, “Watch out for that tree.” About 80% of the time, I would hit that tree.
Some of our best memories are going to the Nemeth's for dinner or going out to dinner with them. They were so much fun to be around.
Louie passed away on June 25. I miss him already. I'll miss him at the Lions Club meetings, I'll miss him on the golf course, I'll miss him doing our taxes, but most of all I'll miss a good man who enhanced our lives and made the community he lived in a much better, friendlier place to live.