some insightful goodbyes to 2021

As is no secret, lots of thoughts go through my head lots of hours of the day. Some are random. Some are huge… What’s my purpose? … how can I grow? … how can I be a positive influence in my every interaction this day?… One “big life” question that often permeates my thinking is what will people say about us when we’re no longer around. Hence, we remember ten who passed away in 2021… and what a few select people had to say…

About Hank Aaron, baseball’s home run king who strong as he was, long shared how God was the source of his strength — from Terry McGuirk, Chairman of the Atlanta Braves: “We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank. He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature…”

About F. Lee Bailey, who as an attorney represented some of history’s most controversial defendants, once sharing how his profession was filled with “a tremendous collection of egos” — from one-time client, O.J. Simpson: “Today I found out that I lost a great friend… one of the great lawyers of our time… He was great; he was smart — sharp as ever… maybe the best lawyer of our time, of his generation, but a great guy…”

About Beverly Cleary, one of America’s most beloved and successful children’s book authors — from HarperCollins Children’s Books President Suzanne Murphy: “Looking back, she’d often say, ‘I’ve had a lucky life,’ and generations of children count themselves lucky too—lucky to have the very real characters Beverly Cleary created, including Henry Huggins, Ramona and Beezus Quimby, and Ralph S. Mouse, as true friends who helped shape their growing-up years…”

About Lee Elder, who in 1975 became the first black American to compete in The Masters — from fellow professional golfer, Gary Player: “Lee was truly a titan in the world of golf and a great contributor to society. He overcame a tremendous number of obstacles throughout his life, yet always remained gracious. His courage and determination were inspiring — a fighter in every sense of the word… Lee’s impact on the sport, and on my life, will never be forgotten…”

About Edgar Harrell, who was the last surviving Marine of the USS Indianapolis, the Navy ship that sank during WW II, hit by torpedoes from a Japanese submarine, surviving for 4 days in shark-infested waters — from the administrators of the ship’s public Facebook page: “During his time aboard ship, he helped guard components of the atomic bomb. After the torpedoing, he was a hero amongst his shipmates.”

About Tommy Lasorda, the legendary LA Dodgers manager — from former Dodger and current broadcaster Orel Hershiser: “There’s a lot of special people in my life. But if you think of baseball and making a significant impact, Tommy Lasorda made the most impact on my life in baseball. He was my baseball father. He taught me baseball on the field and off the field…”

About Cloris Leachman, the versatile, comedic actress, whose decorated screen, stage and television career spanned 7 decades — from actress Maureen McCormick: “Rest In Peace Beautiful Cloris… I became a fan of yours the first time I saw you on tv. And then years later I was lucky enough to work with you and I fell in love with who you are as a person. I will never forget our talks and the time we shared…”

About Larry King, the iconic TV and radio host, who interviewed all sorts of celebrities and politicians for 25 years on CNN — from fellow TV host, Meghan McCain: “There are ‘friends’ in this industry and then there are real friends for whom I can count on one hand. Larry was one of those people. From the beginning of my career when I first appeared on his show when I was 23 and no one took me seriously, he gave me a platform, opportunities, guidance, support and always treated me with the utmost respect. He did so throughout my entire career… I am grateful for the years of friendship and all of the stories you shared Larry. You are an institution, a broadcast legend, will never be replaced and truly missed. TV is less interesting without you…”

About South Africa’s Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, known for his nonviolent pursuit of equality for all people, who passed away just this week — from English journalist and TV host Piers Morgan: “A magnificently charismatic & heroic figure who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his relentless campaign against Apartheid in South Africa. Love his quote: ‘If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.’”

And about Cicely Tyson, the talented and no doubt groundbreaking actress as a black woman cast in multiple starring roles — from director and producer Tyler Perry: “She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup… She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence. Always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen. Every time we would talk I would ask, ‘How are you?’ and you would say, ‘I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.’ Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it.”

… we are all better for it…

There are certainly more of note than we can count who passed away this past year — Bob Dole, Colin Powell and Anne Rice… Prince Phillip, Norm MacDonald and Rush Limbaugh… DMX, Stephen Sondheim and The Supremes Mary Wilson… John Madden and Harry Reid, for example. What a variety of people… what a variety of gifts… what a variety of reactions…

It’s always insightful to see what people say…