GRANGEVILLE – Though perhaps unintentional, Don Fluharty became a lover of the written word.
Born and raised in Eagle, Idaho, on land his great-grandfather walked onto in 1861, Fluharty went on to attend the University of Idaho.
He received his secondary teaching degree in business and began his career in Council then went on to Cambridge, then to Middleton. He met his wife, Janie Bishop, on a blind date, and they later moved to Astoria, Ore.
It was in Astoria he met teacher Bill Gunderson.
“He was cutting and filing fountain pens and it all started there,” Fluharty smiled.
Fluharty not only learned to cut and file the pens himself, he also began to learn the flow of calligraphy.
“It really was life changing,” he said. He continued to learn the art form, practicing and perfecting his skills.
In 1974, Don and Janie Fluharty and their three children – Tristan, Lorrie and Amy -- moved to Idaho County.
“Janie was raised on Clearcreek with her parents, Harold and Mary Bishop,” he said. “I felt like it was very important for our kids to be raised around their grandparents.”
He taught at Kooskia’s Clearwater Valley High School for 17 years, spending a total 29 years in education. Janie started as a paraprofessional and then got her teaching degree and taught for years at Grangeville High School. Don also spent 24 years as a registered representative for Continental Investors Services out of Caldwell.
All the while, he continued with handwriting and calligraphy, teaching classes regionally through Lewis-Clark State College.
At the end of every class session, he asked students to pen a letter, using the handwriting skills they learned, which he keeps in a large three-ring binder.
“This represents all those years,” he smiled, showing the four-five-inch thick notebook.
While some letters are simple and some intricate with designs and art, all remind Fluharty of the people who have come in and out of his life for many decades.
“They’re not only just reminders of fun times, but also a beautiful, artistic collection of people’s skills,” he said.
Fluharty has made calligraphy name plaques for all GHS students for the past six or seven years.
“I dislike retirement and I have a bum knee, but I have always loved kids,” he said. “This is something I can sit down and do.”
Fluharty plans to continue teaching calligraphy in 2020.