Blogging–not unlike other forms of more-or-less “mass” communication–is a conversation largely directed to people the blogger doesn’t know personally and is unlikely to meet. Obviously, I form impressions about those who comment regularly, but in most cases, I will never have an opportunity to compare those impressions against personal observations.
Terry Munson, who died last week, was an exception.
Terry and his wife Pat live in an area of South Carolina where my husband and I have for many years owned and used a vacation time-share. Some years back, we joined friends from Indianapolis who split their time between here and there at a get-together of the local chapter of “Drinking Liberally.” (I joked that it was a gathering of all 30 of South Carolina’s liberals…). When we were introduced as Indianapolis folks, the man sitting next to my husband said he followed a blog written by a woman from Indianapolis.
Needless to say, we immediately became friends, getting together with Terry and Pat for dinners and conversations whenever we were in the state.
Terry was incredibly thoughtful: when I mentioned that one of my grandsons was interested in marine biology, he set up a dinner at which that grandson could meet and converse with a close friend of his–a professor at Coastal Carolina who teaches marine biology. (My grandson was wowed.)
Terry hasn’t commented here recently, as his health further declined, but many of you will recall the thoughtful and erudite observations he shared here on a wide variety of subjects. Those opinions were informed by a wide, liberal education and a wealth of life experience, and by Terry’s ongoing intellectual engagement with the world in which he found himself. In retirement, his hobby was writing letters to the editor on the multiple topics he had researched and analyzed; according to his friends in Drinking Liberally, several hundred of those letters have been published.
His voice will be missed.
Engaging in written commentary, entering into always-civil, evidence-based debates on the important issues of our times, is my definition of exemplary citizenship.
Terry was a Chinese linguist, a systems engineer with IBM, and a passionate environmentalist. His obituary noted that he was a co-founder of SODA – the movement to stop off-shore drilling off the South Carolina coast–and asks that memorial contributions be made to the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) at www.scelp.org.
If this country is ultimately saved from the vicious and vacuous know-nothings who threaten it–the empty suits who have captured headlines and far too often, political power–it will be because America produces enough sane, civic, good-hearted and generous people like Terry Munson.