For some people, the good work is its own reward.
We lost three of those people in the space of a few days.
Shirley Jackson was secretary of the local chapter of the NAACP and clerk secretary of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Searsville. Until her heart attack Aug. 30, she tirelessly and with good humor made sure the people who depended on her were not disappointed, and never sought the spotlight -- but as her longtime friend Joyce Brown said, "She will get the job done and she's gonna do it her way."
Starr Truscott fell off a ladder on Labor Day -- either by accident or because of a heart attack, the family said -- and so ended a long life of service. In 33 years as an Erie MetroParks commissioner -- he was a founding member of the parks board -- he saw the park system's growth from nothing to 13 parks of all sorts and sizes across the county. In his last years on the board and afterward, he was the conscience of the park system in the tumultuous formation of the Huron River Greenway. He knew a lot, but never would say he knew everything, and life for him was about working hard, helping others and learning as much as possible.
And Paul Gillmor -- U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor, R-Tiffin -- ended four decades of public service Tuesday morning, when aides worried he hadn't shown up for work on Capitol Hill found him dead in the foyer of his suburban Washington townhouse. In nearly two decades of representing the sprawling Fifth Congressional District -- which occasionally included Erie County -- he seemingly did his work behind the scenes, co-sponsoring this and managing that bill, and made his mark the way so many members of Congress in safe seats do, setting his staff to work on constituent service. Most recently, he sponsored a bill that would keep a German teenager in the country until his case could get a full review; the young man's only crime was to discover his family hadn't completed the necessary paperwork to let him stay in the United States, and bring that to the feds' attention. Gillmor's voting record did not endear him to liberals and caused rock-ribbed right-wingers to regard him as a useful foot soldier, but he didn't make enough enemies for the Democrats in the largely-Republican 5th District to mount any credible opposition to him. And so he stayed in service, getting things done bit by bit, but getting them done in the ways that mattered to the kind of people in Northwest Ohio who show up on election day.
No glory-seekers, these three; if anything, they seemed to go through life with the sense they had an obligation, not a sense the world owed them anything.
We think it's safe to let Starr Truscott speak for all three: "You need to do something in the world as part of the price for passage as you go."
These three, we think, could consider their tickets to be paid in full, and then some.
Because of the way they paid for their tickets, even those of us who didn't know them, will miss them.