Yesterday Marvin Hamlisch died suddenly, only 68 years old. He brought some great music to the movies and Broadway. I can still remember going to see ‘The Sting’ one Christmas afternoon, and humming the theme song for weeks afterward. By all accounts Marvin was not only a very talented guy, but a person beloved by all. In the different obituaries I read they said he was very bright, funny and a joy to be around. One couple said they would miss him every day for the rest of their lives. Here in this day and age of ‘Superstardom’ and the religion of wealth, we have people saying how much they will miss the man. How his simple human dignity made him so much more than a mere composer or musician.
A couple of months ago another good man left us; Jerry Goldstein the founder of Bio-Cycle magazine, who died in May of this year. Jerry was a friend of this Worm Farm, an advocate for change, and one of the sweetest men you will ever meet. Jerry called me out of the blue one day and asked me if I could do a story about our Worm Farm. I was thrilled to be noticed and overwhelmed by what I would say. I called him several times to ask his advice on editing the piece. He would encourage me with ‘that’s great’, ‘yes, I would leave that in’. I met him at several of his conferences and he would always have a kind word. I would ask him about himself, but often he would just demure and ask me another question about the Worm Farm or my family.
A couple of years ago I returned a call to the art director at BioCycle magazine. They were running an article about the 10th anniversary of Rhonda Sherman’s Worm Conference she has each year in North Carolina. The art director had called about a picture from our Worm Farm, that they wanted to use in the article. After we were done discussing the picture, I asked him about Jerry. He said that I should talk with his daughter Nora, and he transferred the call over to her.
Nora picked up the phone, and I explained who I was, and she said, ‘yes, Jack, the Worm Farm, how are you’. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’m sure a bit of her Dad has rubbed off on her. I asked her about Jerry and she said, ‘well, he has had a setback’. She then went on to tell me how one Tuesday she had left the office for a short business trip. She returned on Thursday to find her father had overnight descended into Alzheimer’s. She said looking back the family could see the little signs, but he had tried so hard to still be present and one day things changed.
She said he was in good health, that her Mother and the family were caring for him and it was sad, but he was still with them. Now he is no longer.
So, in the past several months we have lost two good men, who helped change the world they lived in. They worked hard, loved what they did, and lived good lives. In this day and age of living for the ‘flash’ and hunting for the money, it is refreshing to remember two people who by living their lives, set an example for others on how to live theirs.
Every day Marvin would create music and make people laugh. Jerry would write, and encourage people to help make the world a greener place. Our worms show up, and selflessly and efficiently go about making VermiCompost which helps people grow better food in a sustainable way.
I cast my vote for these three.
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