There are a couple of old sayings that sum up our feelings when important people in our lives pass away.
The ranks are thinning, you will hear, as well as that the cemeteries are filled with irreplaceable people. Both statements are true and untrue, since every day people pick up a fallen standard.
Even though we’re diminished by the deaths of those who have dedicated their unique lives to doing good, there are always others who are ready to replace them.
A family mourns loved ones who are gone, but a community also can mourn the loss of people who thin the ranks by their passing.
This year on Shelter Island we saw people in our business community pass away who were not defined by bottom lines but by the service and spirit they gave to all of us. We remember Hannah Dinkel as a pillar of the real estate industry on the Island, but more for her talent for friendship and her dedication to the Shelter Island Garden Cub and the Shelter Island Yacht Club.
The death of Bob Reiter, bayman and restaurant proprietor, wasn’t just the death of a beloved friend, but felt more like the passing of an era, which has to be one the best tributes included in a eulogy.
Dr. Glenn Heinze, who was one of two Island dentists, and died this month, will be remembered for his expertise and his role as a teacher.
The many people served by volunteers Edith Petry and Anne DeStefano will never forget their kindness and caring.
We remember Neal Raymond for his tireless service to the Island. A member of the Assessment Review Board for 16 years and the Zoning Board of Appeals for nine years, Neal was also involved with the Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion.
He was a town councilman, a detention officer and a candidate for town justice, as well as a member of Police Chief James Read’s emergency preparedness team.
One irreplaceable person who left us this year was Jack Monaghan.
A teacher, mentor and friend, Jack became involved with Island students when Faculty Association President Brian Becker asked him to participate in a mentoring program.
Soon he was pressed into service by former School Superintendent Kenneth Lanier to become a substitute teacher.
His involvement at the school led to working with John and Anu Kaasik on the annual play. He has also coached football and basketball.
Jack was an invaluable assistant to the Shelter Island Educational Foundation Board, a mentor with Mary Dwyer’s 2Rs4Fun writing program for children and a regular Sunday volunteer at Mashomack Preserve.
A participant in many choirs and vocal groups Jack was fond of saying, “Life without music is empty.”
Something that was never true when Jack was around.
Rest in peace, and you all will live in our memories.