When you first encounter St. Regis resident Jack Robertson, you would never know he suffers from a speech disability. The avid fishermen and recreationist who loves to hike to alpine lakes and catch trout all summer long has found a newfound appreciation for the outdoors after losing his voice following a battle with throat cancer.
“Being in the mountains makes me feel whole. My love of fly fishing and hiking and backpacking brought me back to the Northwest, and specifically Montana,” shared Robertson.
He is originally from Spokane but spent most of his working career in law enforcement in Southern California.
“I find incredible peace standing knee deep in a mountain creek or river casting towards rising trout, or hiking to a summit to take in spectacular views of river valleys and alpine lakes.”
After relocating to Mineral County five years ago, he got connected with the church community of New Day Fellowship in St. Regis. That is where Robertson met Andy Cadman, a fellow church goer, angler, and friend who promoted the idea of creating a sign language class for other church members so that they could learn to communicate with him.
“It is very difficult to communicate with Jack while involved in activities, or out fishing. It takes time to stop and have him write out everything he wants to say,” explained Cadman.
So, he came up with a brilliant and thoughtful concept.
“We wanted to communicate better with Jack for ease in church business as the treasurer and part of the pastoral advisory council team,” Cadman said. “As well as being friends and of course to talk about fishing!”
Cadman’s wife has a niece, Leeza, who lives nearby that teaches American Sign Language, therefore it was an easy arrangement to have her come lead a class.
“This is one of the greatest acts of kindness and compassion I have ever received. I am deeply touched and feel blessed by the person who arranged this class and by my other loving brothers and sisters in Christ who commit their time to attend. I will always be indebted to their genuine kindness and care,” exclaimed Robertson.
Robertson has come a long way since he first realized something was going on with his health back in 2005.
He recalled, “I was experiencing swallowing issues that I gave little concern. I was busy on a largescale, time-consuming investigation and was more focused on getting the bad guys than my health. I noticed more and more often food was getting hanged up while swallowing, causing me to constantly clear my throat.”
The following spring while traveling for work he noticed a lump on the side of his neck.
Robertson detailed, “This lump did receive my utmost focus and concern. When …….