Mennonite Heritage Village

How Culture Saved Tom Hanks

Village News (January 10, 2020)
By Gary Dyck

This week Tom Hanks is celebrating his Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement in entertainment. He is also celebrating over 31 years of marriage to his wife Rita Wilson. In the ever-changing environment of Hollywood, he has defied the odds.

In 1986 Tom Hanks was a broken man with a broken marriage. As a child he experienced a lot of instability. His father remarried twice, his mother, three times and young Tom moved ten times over. It was in 1986 that he realized he needed stability and to grow up – it was the year he found Rita Wilson. Rita came from a Greek family who lived in the strength and stability of their culture and heritage. Centuries-old, Greek culture fosters faith, family and committed love. Rita is an actress, singer, and co-producer of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Not surprising after 13 years of marriage Tom would tell Oprah in a 2001 interview that Rita is what shaped his vision of a healthy home life:

“I married into a classic old-world family structure in which people like to spend time with each other and construct their lives so they can. That hadn’t been part of my existence up till then. And you know what? In the 13 years, Rita and I have been married, I’ve discovered there’s no substitute for that. There’s such an advantage to being involved in the day-to-day details of each other’s lives. It’s a marvelous fabric to exist in.”

Culture and heritage are one of those things that can easily be taken for granted or not noticed. However, like the air we breathe, we need to make sure we don’t let it get polluted, that we don’t get cut off from it and every day takes time for some healthy deep breaths. Good culture supports a good life. We need the support it can give us to survive and thrive in this harsh, disjointed world.

I’ll close with some lyrics from Rita Wilson’s title song from her album, Bigger Picture:

“Took an old scrapbook off a closet shelf Dusted off the cover, dusted off myself Laid it in my lap and I opened it up to find who I am and who I was

…You lose yourself in all the lies till you’re someone you hardly recognize

Oh, they say you can’t move forward when you’re looking back But I found a couple of answers hidden right here in my past Every snapshot memory

The missing piece just might put me back together Help me see the bigger picture Oh, the bigger picture.”

A big thank you to our Heritage Champions and donors! We met our matching drive goal of $40,000!  Thank you for your commitment to Mennonite Heritage Village! Plans are beginning to emerge as we prepare for a new season here at MHV and your generosity makes possible the work we do. May we all have 20-20 vision and keep fostering a ‘bigger culture’ that supports the next young Toms and Ritas.

Calendar of Events (see for more details)
February 6, 2020 @ 7 pm
     An Evening With The Authors
February 15, 2020 @ 9 am to 5 pm

NOTE: As of October 1/19, the MHV grounds and restaurant close for the winter.  Galleries, as well as the Books & Gift Shop,  remain open.