A Baby Boomer's Scrapbook


Family Values

Penney Rydman:

Though I refused legal marriage, Gary Kieber (2/27/1941-November 2006) and I were "together" from 1973-1985. Before I knew him, he had been married to a woman who had six children, been divorced, and lived for a time in the Buddhist Monastery in Bridgeport, MI; I met him in spring 1973 when I enrolled in the Beginning Astrology class he was teaching at Delta College Community Ed and he was living in a tiny 2nd floor apartment of the "Castle." My son (Ralph Braden, 3) and I moved into an upstairs apartment with Gary at 706-1/2 S. Warner Street in Bay City, MI in the fall of 1973 where we lived until June 1976. Gary continued to lecture/teach Marc Jones' Sabian Astrology, was interested in all things occult/spiritual including ceremonial magic. He led a 4-person occult experimental group (Prometheus) from 1973-1976 whose intent was "to establish clear/shareable communication between the realms;" the group was successful, but disbanded as friction between members developed.

Two friends (a psychologist and a contractor who Gary worked for occasionally) had bought the "Castle" building, an old 3-story on the edge of downtown Bay City, asked us to move into it until they had decided what to do with it; we did, in early June 1976, and daughter Charna was born a month early on 6/9/1976 in part as a result of the exertion of moving.

Gary continued to teach out of the "group room" downstairs at the Castle, offered astrological counseling, and lectured state-wide; he was a consumate speaker. In June 1977, we packed up my Subaru wagon, moved across country to Mt. Shasta, CA, lived in a tent on the mountain until the first week of October, then traveled north, finally to rent a house at 56 N. Tenth Street, Central Point, OR, where we lived until Christmas 1984.

Astrology and the occult sciences were less-well received in Oregon; during this time, Gary drove a motor-route delivering "The Medford Mail Tribune" through the Applegate near Jacksonville, OR, and he purchased (and read) the 30-some volumes of "The History of Civilization." He developed a relationship with Trillium, a small commune in the hills of the Appegate, initially thinking to move us there; when he further developed a personal relationship with a 21-year-old girl named "Love," I gathered the kids and our two big dogs and headed back across country to my family home in Coleman, MI.

Gary began to exhibit signs of mental distress/psychosis at the Castle but so long as he was teaching/lecturing he managed to keep himself together. In Oregon, his efforts were much less successful. He felt the alcoholism drug experimentation of his earlier life (through the 60's?) had weakened him psychologically, and that the "discarnates" were gradually getting the upper hand. The occasional violence he exhibited as early as the Castle increased on Tenth Street, most but not all of it aimed at the "discarnates" he felt were attacking him; he saw the relationship with "Love" as something of a saving grace but, shortly after the kids and I had gone back to Michigan and he had moved into the commune, both the young girl and the commune itself rejected him.

I understood from his mother, Frankie, that he had then gone north toward the Grants Pass area, living for a time in what she described as little more than a shack and had left it, she was told, without forwarding address. She eventually found him in Grants Pass, said he had been diagnosed as schizophrenic and was medically supervised/supported. Frankie died in 2005, in Brawley, CA; her daughter Diana appeared shortly after the funeral as she lived nearby, and had done so for the many years Frankie had been looking for her; Gary did not/could not attend.

On July 23, 2005, Charna married Jack in Ashland, OR. During an earlier road trip to Grants Pass, she and Jack had walked past Gary on a street in Grants Pass and said hello as strangers; she recognized him from family pictures, he apparently/understandably did not immediately recognize her. Later, they spoke over the phone; in one of those conversations, it seemed clear Gary did retain some level of however intermittent self-consciousness.

Penney Rydman