A year of losses leaves us with hope

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The 366 days of 2008 have given us plenty.

But it’s whom those days took away that we will never forget.

Death is a part of life, but sometimes it just seems the losses are too great for one year.

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Concordia Parish — and the entire Miss-Lou — said goodbye to two great leaders this year.

Fred Falkenheiner, a longtime parish police juror, died at age 69 on Sept. 23.

Falkenheiner’s leadership helped make the parish what it is today, but it was his helping hand and warm heart everyone remembers most.

Less than a month later, the parish mourned again. Logan Sewell, 87, died Oct. 13.

Sewell was instrumental in developing Concordia Parish’s industrial park and bringing big business to town.

His leadership with a local bank and in the creation of the Jim Bowie Knife Show will live on for years.

In Natchez, we lost great leaders, too.

Dr. Eugene Taylor, a former member of the Natchez-Adams School Board, died at age 71 in June.

Taylor, an orthopedic surgeon, was also active on the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau Board.

David Blackburn, 70, died in September. But his gift will certainly live on as music to our ears.

Blackburn was instrumental in leading the Natchez Festival of Music and the Alcorn State University choir.

The area also lost a few history buffs that will be remembered for their collections, among other things.

Arthur LaSalle, owner of Springfield Plantation in Jefferson County, died in August. The house he lived in closed for tours after his death.

Antiques dealer Jimmy Pippen died unexpectedly in August as well. Pippen left behind hundreds of pieces of antique furniture and objects, many of which were later sold at an auction.

And then there were the less well-known, but just as loved residents who left us this year.

Deborah Mizell was a smiling face and a caring heart to everyone she met.

She worked at both Natchez Community Hospital and Natchez Regional Medical Center in recent years and touched lives in both hospitals.

Rudy Case, 97, served his community for years through dedication to the Rotary Club and his church. He welcomed strangers and friends alike with a smile and a funny line.

And Michael Griggs, 14, hadn’t even had time to achieve his goals when he died in a four-wheeler accident in May.

Most recently, 16-year-old Larry Brown Jr. was taken from the community.

A Natchez High football player, the teen was described as a gentle giant by his friends.

The list could go on. And it would be easy to spend this last day of 2008 sad and missing our friends.

But none of those we lost this year would stand for that.

Falkenheiner, Sewell, Taylor, Mizell and the others weren’t just leaders at what they did, they were models for us all.

Their smiles warmed our hearts when they were living, and their memories must do so now.

Our community is better because of those we’ve lost.

They taught us. Will we carry on their lessons?

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com or 601-445-3551.