This evening saw two rival high school teams doing battle on the hardwood. However, as is going to be a tradition which started last year, it also lead to honoring a great cause. In this years case, it was for a ministry began by the most courageous, unselfish, outspoken, compassionate, God-loving, indomitable, and inspiring woman I have ever had the extreme pleasure of knowing (so much more than knowing, I cannot put into words what she means to me.) One woman who had an indelible impact on two small Northwest Ohio communities with less than 15 miles between them and even farther.
Emily was a life long resident of Edon, Ohio. After graduating from Miami University, she began her 31 year career as a music educator 27 of them were spent in the halls of my alma mater, Edgerton Local Schools. To say that Emily was a wonderful teacher would be an insult to her memory. She was so much more. She was a taskmaster! She asked nothing more than the absolute best that each and every student who came into her classroom was capable of delivering (if not more). Emily’s love (passion… whatever you may call it) of music went far beyond the halls of the school. She served as the choral director and organist of her church.
Immediately following the events of September 11, 2001, this multi-faceted woman began her Operation Support Our Troops ministry. Through letters written by young school children, care packages full of goodies… (lots of Dum Dum Pops), toiletries, socks, and other essentials we might take for granted, she spear-headed this campaign to send a touch of home to those half a world away. She also spent a week in Germany visiting wounded soldiers who had been transported to a hospital there. Her son, Jonathan is a West Point graduate who is now a Captain in the U.S. Army something his mother was extremely proud of as she told me on several occasions. Emily’s daughter Amanda is a Professor at the University of Iowa.
In May of 2007, Emily was diagnosed with leukemia and the toughest battle of her life began. Never once did she buckle under. With the grace of God and her unwavering spirit, she fought until she was called home on September 12, 2008…. one month before her 60th birthday.
There are so many things I could say about this powerhouse of love, energy, and courage. I think I could fill a book. However, I believe that the silence heard during the reading of her biography at the gymnasium of my alma mater’s arch-rival said it all. Two opposing teams uniting for a common goal. I am sure that she is up there working her magic fingers on the most beautiful organ imaginable.
“You are the light of the world. A town on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Wise words which have been shared often with me by some of the wisest people. Love you Ma2!