Fort Dodge lost two extraordinary women this week - Mary Murray Stark and Emily Joy Averill. Both touched the lives of anyone who knew them; one for many years, and one for way too short a time.
Mary lived a long and fruitful life. Although her passing is sad, there is comfort knowing she lived and loved fully for 80 years.
Emily Joy Averill graduated from high school less than a month ago and was just beginning her lifelong journey. Her passing comes way too soon.
Mary Stark was a wonderful and very strong individual. She was married to one of Fort Dodge's finest men and truly helped him - as he helped her - in raising their children and helping make Fort Dodge and the Catholic community a better place to live. She didn't say no when asked to do something; be it make a casserole, serve on countless committees or raise money for her favorite cause - St. Edmond School. And let me say, Mary was that person who was almost impossible to say no to. If she was selling a raffle ticket, you bought a raffle ticket; somehow you found yourself buying not one, but five. Mary was blessed with a lifetime of philanthropy, family and community, with time to do what she wanted to do.
Mary's legacy can be seen in her children; Michelle, Diane, Steve, Tom, Julie and David. They reflect their parents' strength and honor in every possible way - and beyond. How proud Maury and Mary must have been as they watched the Stark tradition they created living on through the generations.
Emily Joy Averill's life in Fort Dodge, on the other hand, came to a tragic end on a warm Sunday afternoon. Anyone who knew Emily will attest to the impact her spirit will make on those who knew her. Whether as a good friend or a chance acquaintance, her love of life, her grace, her happy and bright smile radiated with every chance meeting. She embraced life fully; as her parents raised all their children to do. Emily enjoyed all she took part in - cheerleading, tennis, music and theater. She was excited about attending Iowa Central Community College - and would have left her impressions there, you can be sure.
Emily's legacy is yet to be fulfilled. I imagine we will ponder that in the days and months ahead. It's so easy to wonder: would she have married and raised a family, or gone off and written a best-selling novel? Perhaps both.
All we can hope is that her family and friends will carry her legacy out - with their memories of her and her wonderful enthusiasm as an example to them. Just as Emily would have lived, with the spirit and joy of a truly lovely young woman.
Anne Kersten is the editor of Twist and Shout.