“No man is an island,” wrote the English poet John Donne almost four centuries ago.
While proofreading obituaries I often reflect on Dunne’s philosophy, “Any man’s death diminishes me.”
Every person’s death, regardless of stature or prominence, is significant.
Oftentimes I read obituaries about people I never met, but the writer paints a vivid image of a person whose death I mourn even though I never knew them.
While an individual’s faith may take some of the sting out of death with a promise of the eternal nature of human relationships and the joy of a future reunion, their separation from this mortal world still gives reason to mourn.
Some of those deaths I read about are more personal to me.
It was with great sadness that I read about the passing of Gary Fawson, of Grantsville, two weeks ago.
I have not seen Gary for some time and his death came as a surprise.
I had just thought about Gary earlier that day while looking at a photograph of the burial of a time capsule in Grantsville.
Gary wasn’t in the photograph, but when I think about Grantsville my mind often turns to Gary.
I met Gary on one of my first assignments as a writer for the Transcript Bulletin somewhere around 13 years ago. It was at a planning commission meeting. The meeting was my first public meeting as a full-time reporter.
Gary was a member of the planning commission. At the start of the meeting somebody introduced me as the new reporter from the Transcript Bulletin.
After the meeting was over, Gary made a beeline off the stand and sought me out.
He introduced himself and asked a few questions about how the paper was doing.
He talked a little about his own experience in the journalism business with the “Grantsville Gazette.”
During the time I covered Grantsville City, I talked with Gary frequently.
It was pre-recession. Grantsville was growing.
The planning commission was busy.
I interviewed Gary for stories frequently about growth and other planning commission business. He was very personable, polite, and always returned my calls — sometimes he called me.
Gary was open and honest with his thoughts, which I appreciated.
I also worked with Gary on stories about Tree City USA and the City’s tree campaign program.
Gary’s heart was in Grantsville. He loved the place.
I regret I never took advantage of the Tooele Master Gardeners Tour to see his backyard. I heard him describe it and I have seen photographs. I understand he created a masterpiece there.
After being reassigned to cover Tooele City and then Tooele County, I didn’t see Gary often.
But I will always remember him reaching out to me at that first meeting.
Grantsville and Tooele County are better places because of dedicated and passionate people like Gary.
I imagine Gary is still working hard where he is now, but still finds time for a well deserved rest in the shade of a tree.
‘Til we meet again, Gary.