Karolyn Grimes today

John Mencl, an attorney based in Independence, Missouri, has been the president of the Zuzu Society since 1996


Essays: Sharing from Friends


he President of the Zuzu Society Carries 'Petals from his Daughter': His Story of How it Happened...

I was honored to have been asked to act as the president of the Zuzu Society. A big thank-you is extended to Ted Warner from St. Joseph, Missouri, for launching the society and serving as its first president.

My wayward journey into the Zuzu Society started in 1979 when during a very tough first year of law school saw It's a Wonderful Life on television. It immediately became my favorite film.

Well, I made it through law school and became a lawyer for all the regular Berts and Ernies of the world who got injured and needed legal help.

Then in 1990, I got a chance to talk about It's a Wonderful Life to drive home a point in a closing argument of a wrongful death civil damages suit.

When my daughter Mandy was in first grade, she gave me a coupon she made at school that was "good for one prayer". I couldn't help thinking of it as my own special "Zuzu's petals," and I keep it in my wallet to this day. I hope it will be there if I ever really need that one special prayer.

On Christmas Day 1992, my wife and I were amazed to learn in a newspaper article that Zuzu also at that time lived in the Kansas City area. We thought about contacting her but never got around to doing it until the spring of 1995. Then, oddly enough, we met at a restaurant/bar called Martini's.

Karolyn was as nice and charming as we had hoped, and we were relieved to find out from a friend of hers that she didn't mind at all being called Zuzu. This was good, because it seemed so much easier to say than Karolyn Grimes.

We have since become good friends, and my family has embarked on the mission of putting together the biggest collection of It's a Wonderful Life memorabilia in Kansas City.

Then I was asked to serve on the steering committee for the 1995 Christmas Gala fundraiser for the Boy Scouts, which honored Zuzu and showed It's a Wonderful Life in an elegant theater on the big screen.

It is my great pleasure to serve as the president of the Zuzu Society. I encourange any readers to write in and share your thoughts and ideas.

I feel we owe a great deal of thanks to Karolyn for making all of her unique, special gifts available to us. These are one-of-a-kind collectibles. She is like Santa Claus for the millions who cherish the wonderful message of It's a Wonderful Life.

rom the desk of Karolyn:

John Mencl and his lovely wife Ruth have become like family to me. They have joined me in travels to Denison, Iowa for the Donna Reed Festival and to celebrations in India, Pennsylvania, Jimmy Stewart's hometown. John practices the message that each man's life touches another. He helps people in many ways. He is firm in his beliefs and he spreads the magic from the film. He even has a collection on display in his office and he loves for folks to ask him about the film. He has a Christmas tree that he and Ruth decorate every year with just It's a Wonderful Life items, some they have collected and some they have made. John is very creative and he even built a newel post that comes apart like the one in the film.



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