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a summertime passing
by jeff wilder

Recently, the world lost a great man.

This great man was not a celebrity. He was not a football hero or rock star or Hollywood sex symbol. He was an ordinary person. But he was also extraordinary.

He was a tough yet kind, caring, gentle person. Even when he wasn't happy with someone he never showed venom or animosity toward him or her.

Greg Hein was a decent caring man with a quick wit and infectious sense of humor. He would write humorous pieces that would have the sides of the people who read them aching from hysterical laughter.

Greg truly loved the world around him. He cared for all the people he met. When a person writing on the online message boards that he frequented would put up an excellent piece, he would drop them a line and let them know that he liked it and would tell them to keep up the good work. When one of those people's birthday came, they could usually open their e-mail that morning and find a funny and touching birthday poem from him.

Out of all the people he knew, perhaps the ones Greg was closest to were his pets and the woman who loved him. He loved his dog Amtrak and was deeply saddened by his passing. And he had his biggest love for the woman in his life.

Her name is June and she is a sweet caring woman. She first met Greg at the online message board they used to frequent. They first started out fighting slightly (Like many great relationships). But after a while they discovered how much they really cared for each other. They communicated often through e-mail and chat until one day when he asked her to help him find an apartment in the area where she lived. She did. However, they wound up moving in together after a year. Not long after, they admitted that they truly loved each other. June cared very deeply for him and her support kept Greg going as his health deteriorated.

June and Greg would spend time together watching bad movies and Greg would keep June laughing as he tore them apart. He would often leave her little notes around the house. In the evenings they would watch Jeopardy and play Trivial Pursuit.

Even during Greg's last days he never got self-centered or angry. On the morning of one of those days he got up and went to the store (even though it was hard for him) to get some doughnuts for June, because he new she loved them.

Knowing Greg, I know that he would be uncomfortable with being called a hero. But there is no other way to say it. For the people who knew him and loved him, he was a hero.

And to end this column I offer the following, paraphrased from one of Mike Royko's classic columns.

Please do Greg and June a favor. If there's someone you love and you haven't said so in a while, please say it now. Always, always say it now.

May you Rest In Peace Greg Hein.


Jeff Wilder is a writer-filmmaker-philosopher who lives south of the south.

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