Each year when we put together our end-of-year obituary issue, I find myself wishing I had known these people, or known them better. I’d see Dr. Gordon Smith at community meetings, but never knew he was a stalwart of Union Baptist Church and conducted a prison ministry. Becky Austwick used to work at Illinois Times, but I didn’t realize the depth of her character until I read about it here. We all heard about the cyclist killed by a car on a roadside in Auburn, but how many knew Grover Everett was a super-cyclist and an athlete who had been a skydiver, weight lifter, a runner and a swimmer? Attorney Mary Lee Leahy was well known for her success at the Supreme Court, but less well known for her sense of humor and Kentucky Derby parties.
Here are tributes to 22 members of our community who died in 2012. They are but a small group from the hundreds who passed from the Springfield scene this year. There was no attempt to be comprehensive, only to illuminate a few of the rich lives that have come and gone. Illinois Times writers contributed the longer essays presented here, while the shorter tributes were submitted by readers.
If the regret is that we didn’t know these people, a lesson may be to make more friends, and to get to know our friends better while they are here. Nancy Lee Ganguli, whose story is on p. 16, was all about making friends. “Authentically interested in others, she had no fear about reaching out to anyone.” She, like all the others, is an inspiration.
–Fletcher Farrar, editor and publisher