Friday, June 02, 2006
Beverly could always be counted on to do the right thing, a rare quality.
I knew her in her role as union president and as co-chair of the Heart of America United Way. I thought of her as a friend, although not a close friend. She was someone I could ask for help whenever I needed it, and I would have been glad to return any favors. She certainly would have been welcome in my home. But we came from different worlds.
A few years ago, I asked her to visit my adult Sunday school class, and talk about ethics from a labor point of view. She told the class she grounded her morals and ethics on the Holy Bible; and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. We shared that commonality, and it bridged the gulf between our two worlds.
She certainly stood out; a tall, imposing black woman with considerable presence and force of personality, she was in some ways the opposite of my suburban, homogenously white, professional and managerial Sunday school class.
Whether addressing several thousand volunteers on behalf of the United Way, or a single individual in the hall outside her office, she brought her sense of humor, love of life, and total commitment to all that's best to everything she did. She did more than talk about social justice, she fought for it on the front lines. She was a genuine bridge builder and an actual unifier, in her lived life as well as her words.
So it goes. All day long, I received e-mails with links to news stories about the accident. I heard many conversations in hushed tones. People who knew her well stood around and cried. Even members of top management appeared teary eyed; people who were often on the opposite side of Beverly the union leader.
Well, we will gather together soon to say our goodbyes. Black and white, union and management, Beverly will bring us together in community once last time.
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