Our View: They filled our lives with purpose,direction

December 29, 2012

In looking back at 2012, it’s not surprising to feel like you just exited an extreme roller coaster at a theme park — the year held many ups and downs and some might still be feeling the effects.

Going over our readers’ selections and the newsroom’s picks for the top stories of the year, found on Spotlight Page D1, we see some moments worthy of celebration and others that left us disappointed or even distraught. But here, we wish to take time to remember some influential figures whose passing over the past year left  spaces in our hearts and in our community.

Rob Parkhurst, chief executive officer of Parkhurst Manufacturing Company Inc., died in February at age 46. While family and friends remembered his kindness and everlasting support, twin daughters Madelyn and Morgan shared their father’s true nature. Madelyn said her father taught her “you have to work your hardest to achieve tough goals” and “to love with all your heart.” Morgan expressed her happiness that “you have taught me how to forgive, live life with no regrets, and make others and myself happy.”

The Rev. Bruce Campbell’s long bout with liver cancer ended in March. The New Hope Baptist Church minister, who was 59, was a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and the movie “The Princess Bride,” which he was known to quote from. His younger brother, John, offered a loving tribute: “He wasn’t just a big brother, he was a mentor, a teacher, a dad. A hero.”

Students, teachers, parents and school district personnel lined U.S. Highway 65  to give a final and fitting farewell to Skyline Elementary School librarian Lynn Phillips, 38 who succumbed to cancer in May. As the funeral procession left the Celebration Center and headed north on the highway, those assembled held up favorite children’s books to honor the woman who dedicated herself to family, learning and reading. Skyline Principal Kelly McFatrich told the Democrat’s Bob Satnan that the school library “was the place to be in the mornings” — the gathering spot where teachers and staff shared their personal lives and family news. “We came there because of (Phillips).”

Ron Jennings didn’t want anyone to be sad at his memorial service. So the longtime Democrat reporter and columnist encouraged his wife, Pat, to plan the event with fun in mind. Jennings, who died in January at age 62, would have been proud — the eulogies included humorous tales of his exploits and the State Fair Statesmen barbershop singers came together to honor the man who they put in front for their performances because of his ever-present smile. Jennings’ brother, Steve, recalled the journalist’s belief in his craft: “In his eyes, everyone has a story. It is important and deserves to be told.”

Our community lost these and other notable residents over the past year. While we will continue to feel their absence, honoring what each of them stood for and following their examples will help us move forward with purpose and in positive directions.