The inevitable, if not always expected, deaths of good people in our community remind us of the fragility and preciousness of life.
The recent losses of two Columbia Countians, one on each end of their career paths, are a sobering reminder of this reality.
Eric Marshall had been out of college barely two years and was set to begin this fall as an educator and assistant basketball coach at Greenbrier High School, where he had graduated in 2003 as a basketball phenomenon.
Marshall died April 22, his enlarged heart giving out during a pickup basketball game. But it was the big heart he had for others that led him to the education field.
Marshall found Christ while in college, and it was his dream to establish a faith-based inner-city basketball academy for underprivileged children. He would certainly be happy to know that his widow, Tanya, intends to carry his dream forward.
Jo Marie Lombard was at the other end of the career track, having served for the past eight years with Columbia County's School Nutrition department after a stellar professional life in other communities.
Lombard was an extraordinarily delightful woman with an impressive educational and career background who this past week passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Like Marshall, Lombard's passion was children and their health. While her efforts and her career reached far beyond Columbia County, her time here demonstrated the love that she brought to a vital role in meeting the nutritional needs of students.
While others live and carry on the work of these two fine people, their losses are hard to take - especially for their families, but also for the community they enriched.
This past week, the University of Georgia held its annual memorial ceremony for students, faculty and staff who have died in the past year.
One of those remembered Tuesday was Sloan Cleary, of Evans, a 2007 graduate of Evans High School and incoming UGA student transferred from Augusta State University. She was killed in a vehicle crash as her UGA career was set to begin last fall.
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