Saturday’s editorial looks at some of the lesser known, but still important people that the Strand lost this year:
The year 2011 has come to a close, and as we enter 2012, we do so having lost the assistance of some giants in our community. Tireless Grand Strand promoters and area leaders David Brittain and Woody Crosby died far too early. One of the driving forces behind Coastal Carolina University, Joseph Kenyon East, also passed away, as did former CCU Chancellor Dick Singleton. Both left an indelible imprint on the school they helped foster to its current success.
Other notable losses included Archie Dargan, whose construction company built many of the local landmarks residents and visitors pass every day, and Sister Peterkin, an unyielding advocate for Murrells Inlet, author, activist and the fishing village’s unofficial mayor. The loss of these well-known leaders – and more we don’t have room to list – will be keenly felt in the coming year.
But it’s not just the familiar names that we both celebrate and grieve as we begin a new year. Among the more than 2,900 names listed in The Sun News obituaries in 2011 were many who touched others in ways big and small, beloved mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters. All had an effect on those around them, from the babies days or months old to 107-year-old Evert Lambert of Georgetown, who started work at age 12 and celebrated 81 years of marriage before his death in September.
Rebecca Jordan, 74, worked with the children who took advantage of Horry County’s libraries for 25 years, driving the Bookmobile until she retired in 1995. She died in December.
Lewis Gould of Loris, who died in May at age 97, set a wonderful example of the value of education, earning his GED at age 63. He worked for 55 years at the Loris Drug Store, visiting with patrons full time until he was 90.
One sobering trend that continued in 2011 was the loss of World War II veterans, a rapidly shrinking group in our nation. More than 200 were listed in the newspaper’s obituaries in 2011, about the same as the year before, including fighter pilots, tank commanders, engineers, infantrymen and sailors. Among them were men who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, at D-Day and who survived the Bataan Death March; and women who served as WACs and in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. The area’s continued loss of veterans makes efforts like the Honor Flight a precious race against time to honor these national heroes before they’re gone forever.
Not found in the paper’s obituaries are the 23 homeless people who died this year in Myrtle Beach. That the number continues to rise – up from 18 last year – is a dark stain upon our community and a trend that we desperately need to reverse. The Rev. Wayne Brown summed it up well at a vigil Thursday night: “We’re not talking about things here. We’re talking about people that have died on the streets and woods of Myrtle Beach. My prayer is that we see them as people.”
Rudy Herz, who died in October, would likely have agreed. Herz, a German Jewish refugee from the Nazi regime, spent countless hours sharing the need for treating our fellow man as equals. Many local students heard from Herz as he told of his time spent first in a Czech ghetto and then in Auschwitz, from 1942 to 1945.
In 1998, he told reporter Johanna Wilson what he had learned from his time in the infamous Nazi death camp. “I found out in camp that we are all equal,” he said. “We must all guard against ideas of inferiority. That’s why we had the Holocaust. People just can’t hate other people because of their skin color, religion or sexual preference. It’s wrong.”
That message of Herz’s will still stand as an uncompromising truth in 2012. The response to discrimination is simple: “It’s wrong.” But we will now have to do without Herz and the many other often-unheralded bastions of compassion and wisdom that the Grand Strand lost this past year.
Some of those who died this year were movers and shakers in our community. They will be sorely missed, and rightfully so. But many others passed through life unnoticed by all but their close friends and family, and as we begin this new year, we offer our gratitude for their example and for the lesson they impart: You need not be famous or powerful to make a difference in those around you. Concentrate on living the best life you know how and your legacy will take care of itself.