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Jeb Bladine: Personal lists of ‘prominent deaths’

Today we continue our year-end tradition of reviewing the most prominent local news stories, and recognizing the loss of a few well-known people.

Our practice of listing prominent deaths always overlooks hundreds of local people who were beloved in their own circles of family, friends and other activities of well-lived lives. I daresay that every reader today was touched in 2017 by the loss of someone not listed in our brief anthology.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Looking through our online archive of obituary stories, I stopped to re-read many and remember different chapters of my own life. I found stories about close family friends such as Pat Cushing and Joyce Cushman; there was my high school tennis coach, Bob Abrahamson, and my cousin, Phyllis Bladine Anusich; Janet Eborall, who was married to Santa Claus, died this year, as did friends Dale Laird and Gary Neuschwanger.

I noted the names of longtime local business owners Kent Wilson and Vince Haworth, the too-young loss of Christy Day Leonhardt, and the Christmas Eve death of Margaret Brixey. The Brixey house on Fleishauer Lane, long before its extension to Fellows Street, was my last newspaper delivery on a 1950s paper route.

We all have our own personal lists of “most prominent” people from 2017. One of those names revisited me last week in a handwritten note from Brother Martin Gonzales, 92 — a monk at the Lafayette area Trappist Abbey since 1954, and a veteran of World War II who has been reading “some excellent books” about the war.

In strong cursive, Brother Martin wrote about the tragic November fire outside Amity that claimed the lives of a mother trying to save her 9-year-old daughter, who in turn was trying to retrieve a litter of puppies inside the burning motorhome.

“Interesting, over 70 years later, reading of the miracles that got us through the war. God was truly on our side,” wrote Brother Martin.

“Reading of the brave soldiers who won our highest award, the Medal of Honor, by dying to save comrades made me think of your coverage of the death of Honey Mae Cosgrove and her daughter, Nevaeh. They are a living example of real love and courage — the kind of spirit our world needs to find real peace and love. I would surely recommend them for a Medal of Honor. This is a suggestion that you include them in the great meaningful stories of 2017.”

Deservedly so.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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