The world lost a good man the other night.
No, he wasn't a nobel prize winner or a great statesman. Not even an actor of great reknown
He was just Willie Stewart and he lived in a small town in the southwest United States doing what he did best, being himself.
I first met Willie when I started working for the church that he was a member of and also happened to live next door to. Actually I heard about Willie before I met him as the woman I was replacing as church secretary explained that Willie Stewart was the man who made sure the trash was out to the curb every Monday morning for pick up and also mowed the church lawn.
The next week, I met Willie for myself as he stopped in to introduce himself 'proper'. From that day on, Willie would stop in every so often to pick up a check, let me know the mowing was done or just to say hi. Willie cared about his church and would keep a eye on the building from his house daily. It was not unusual for him to pop in and say he found a door unlocked on the other side of the building but that he'd go back out that way and make sure it was locked.
Sure sometimes Willie could be frustrating but he was always Willie. There weren't many in this town that if you mentioned just his first name didn't know who you were talking about. Even yesterday as I let some people know that his funeral was this afternoon, they knew exactly who I was referring to. It isn't just small town effect because there are many names that can be mentioned and someone says "who?" but not Willie's.
What was it about this ordinary man that made him so memorable? I think it was the sense of just being himself, of what you saw was what you got with Willie. Maybe it was the fact that when Willie saw something he could help with, even if just a simple matter of making sure all the doors were locked when they should be, Willie did it.
Willie would pop in just to say hi and if you were having a bad day, manage to bring out a smile just by being himself, usually with some sort of joke.
The world just got a wee bit quieter and dimmer for the loss of Willie. He will be missed.