I bid farewell to Jim, Eugene and Bob in December. In a month otherwise filled with holiday joy, celebration, and sugar cookies creamed with pounds of butter, I found myself honoring their memories at their funerals.
The trio, to my knowledge, never met. But their deaths provided another reminder that we all end up in the same place no matter what we did, how much money we made or how we chose to live.
Jim moved a lot of metal as a automotive public relations director but was claimed by heart failure. Eugene saw the worst of society as a prison guard and was felled by a stroke. Bob changed kids lives for the better as a speech therapist for special students but who got blindsided by ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Jim and Eugene got to enjoy more than a decade of relatively happy retired life; Bob struggled with ALS for about three years after getting his diagnosis literally weeks after retiring after 40-plus years of educational service.
The greatness of these three men remains their contribution to their families, their professions and their communities...most of which most people will never fully understand or appreciate. Those people closest to them, however, remember and cherish every laugh, every dinner shared, and every event celebrated.
In the end, you don't need a obituary in The New York Times to become one of the greats. You just need someone who cares.