I learned the sad news today of a colleague's death. She spent over 30 years at our institution. Jean was fiercely committed to public higher education and its students. She was president of our local union chapter for many years (longer than I've been there). I can't imagine the place without her--not our department meetings, not our institutional governance, not the campus in general.
Her death comes at almost the five year mark since my Dad's death, and I can't help but see parallels between them. My Dad was a party line democrat; so was Jean. My Dad was a dedicated union person; so was Jean. My Dad was crusty on the outside, but so soft for those he loved most; so was Jean. My Dad was a particular sucker for his daughters and grand-daughters; Jean was constantly talking about her "grand" nieces and nephews.
They were both salt-of-the-earth New Englanders with good hearts. I was not personally close to Jean, but I will miss her. If there is a heaven (I'm unconvinced in either direction), I imagine she'd enjoy a cup of tea with my Dad if she ran into him. Hopefully both of them would be satisfied with having spent their lives trying to do what they thought was right and just.