Long time GMD Front Pager Julie Waters passed away this afternoon. I came back to write a few words that will be totally inadequate, and I imagine the other folks here will write their own diaries as well (and although I’m not a publisher/contributor any more, I’d like to suggest those that are consider re-promoting some of Julie’s best stuff from over the years this week).
In 2006 I was making as much noise as I possibly could to put Peter Welch into office, rather than GOP candidate Martha Rainville. At that point, I couldn’t really muster up enough noise to amount to much, though.
Then I, like virtually everyone else in Vermont, read the story about how a lowly blogger had noticed that Rainville’s web site had material plagiarized from other websites. Sure, the Rainville campaign had already made a string of self-sabotaging blunders, but this particular gaffe was bigger, louder, and more costly. The Rainville campaign never recovered.
I knew then that I had to pull this “Julie Waters” person onto Green Mountain Daily. Thankfully, she was quick to sign on – and it turned out we’d already met back when I was Field Director for the Clavelle campaign, and had recruited her wife Cyndi to be a volunteer.
The first time I saw Julie back in, I guess, 2004, she was playing guitar on an outdoor stage in Bellows Falls. I remember what struck me at the time (other than how well she was playing) was how focused she was on what she was doing. Some guitarists in venues like that are flailing around, talking to the crowd, making jokes, whatever – and that’s fine – but Julie seemed to have all her focus trained on every note.
Julie focused on many things: guitar, banjo, blogging, photography, teaching, programming – and making the world a better place. She could have laser-like focused intensity at times, whether it was while skewering a political target, promoting a cause, or just being funny. It was extraordinary how Julie could express herself with fluency in so many media: words, music, photos, probably others.
It was the highest honor and privilege to work with, and get to know her.
It’s hard for me to know what kind of send-off Julie would’ve appreciated. I’ve known her for several years now… hung with her at the barbecues, went to her wedding reception… but never really got to know her well. I guess the distance between Washington and Windham Counties was a bit too much for that. There was a time when she stood ready to take the helm of GMD, until it turned out I wasn’t leaving, and then when I did leave, I knew she was too sick to be pulled into it to that degree – of course I was assuming she would get better, as probably everyone was.
Her not being here anymore is going to seem very unreal for a long time, probably forever. Before my retirement from GMD, I’d written several memorials on this site, some to people I’ve known, worked with or liked – but I never ever imagined I’d be writing one like this.
Julie was a special person. She was talented, funny, brash, smart, challenging, inspired, inspiring and very very very good (and for those who know me, you know that last word is what I consider to be the highest praise there is).
Rest in Peace, Julie. We love you, and you will be missed and remembered.
And you made a difference. You left the world a little better than it was when you got here, and better than it would’ve been if you hadn’t shown up.
And that is what it’s all about, isn’t it?