This has been the darkest of springs, with endless cascades of devastating news. When so many are suffering such terrible losses, it seems right and proper to pay tribute to the characters, talents, and achievements of those who have left our midst.
I found myself thinking of wonderful Population Connection members through the years when I recently learned the sad news of the deaths of three longtime members (from causes unrelated to COVID-19). Amidst the current tsunami of misery, their passing—and the passing of so many other friends of Population Connection over time—shouldn’t go unnoticed.
At the time of his death, at age 96, David Starr had been working in the field of journalism for his entire adult life. Beginning as a 17-year-old copyboy for Advance Publications, he rose to president of The Republican newspaper in Springfield, MA—a paper whose founding predated that of the GOP itself by some decades. David had the sharpest of minds, so I had to be on my toes when meeting with him. He devoted himself to the improvement of western Massachusetts, while also strongly supporting population stabilization and other vital missions.
I just learned of the death of one of Population Connection’s greatest friends, Lincoln Miller, of Hillsdale, MI. He and JoAnne, his wife of nearly 54 years, devoted their careers to education and were enjoying a well-deserved retirement, while serving as top cheerleaders for our Population Education program. In addition to teaching special education, Linc founded a program for gifted students and provided math “Super Saturday” classes. As a retiree, he was a prolific fundraiser for local education programs. Every time Linc checked in with us, he brightened our day.
Rabble-rouser. Unintimidated. No-nonsense. These words have been used to describe my good friend Mardi Kildebeck who recently died. Through sheer determination, she made the San Francisco Bay area—her home for 50 years—and our world a better place. In addition to her own unflinching activism on behalf of reproductive rights and other great causes, Mardi ran the Mary Wohlford Foundation. At Population Connection, we benefited for years from Mary Wohlford Fellows, talented recent college graduates embarking on a lifetime of fierce advocacy for the causes central to our mission.
At Population Connection, we treasure the relationships with our members. Our appreciation is boundless. If anything good can come of this terrible pandemic, perhaps we can all strive to be more grateful, certainly to those on the front lines of the pandemic, but also to all those “helpers” who by word and deed are dedicated to making our living planet a better, safer place—which is at the heart of our own population stabilization mission.