Apostle Paul shortly before his death made a powerful statement,
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
There are not many who can say such a satisfactory statement when they come to the end of their life.
Life can be hard and turns in the most unpredictable ways leaving you in a place that you had never dreamed of being in. To hold onto your convictions and to make a difference in this life is not an easy task! Even harder is to establish a goal in life and to attain it. Yet there are some throughout history who have done it.
Locally, two individuals recently have left us. They had full lives and made such a powerful difference in their community that they have to be mentioned.
The first is Urs F. Dur. On the commercial side, he established the House of Travel in Newburyport that had branch offices in surrounding communities. But what really shined was his tireless work for the Trustees of Reservations and for historic preservation in the Town of Newbury and his activist role in preserving the downtown of Newburyport. Dear to his heart was the preservation of land and open space and the protection of historic buildings and the values and local heritage that went with those buildings. I had seen him many times around town and after seeing his obituary and all that he accomplished, I wish I had known him personally!
One statement showed the terrific honor of this man – one which we should all aspire!
He believed strongly in democracy and the power of the people to lead themselves, and hence felt it was his duty as a citizen to participate actively in town policies and politics. He stood up for what he believed in and for the people who could not stand up for themselves. Often his views were unpopular, but he always held his ground and honored those who did the same.
When his friends and relatives meet on Sunday the 26th at 2:30 at the Old South Church, it aught to be a celebration of his life and if there is any mourning, it should be the great loss to the ‘Newburys’ of a powerful leader. This is a man who fought the good fight, finished his course and kept his faith.
The second is Gloria Braunhardt. Many knew her in passing when she helped out at the Brown School for many years and many others would see her familiar face as she attended countless boards and committees and commissions and meetings. Others knew her by her powerful letters filled with passion in the Daily News’ editorial page. I first met her when she was standing outside of the Newburyport Post Office trying to get signatures to save the open space at the Little River. She and Al Decie created the Citizens for Environmental Balance. While other communities organized and tried to fight anti-preservationists and those who would destroy the environment; many lost; CEB not only won but helped establish CPA in the City. Everyone fighting for funding from the program should stop for a moment and thank Al & Gloria for making it happen in the first place!
One statement showed how powerful this little lady was:
“her only objective was the citizen’s common good, the protection of our disappearing environmental treasures and the application of our laws. Picture this woman of boundless energy on a mission to make the world and our community a better place, righting what is wrong to the best of her ability,”
They had on Sunday a memorial service for her and it turned out to be a celebration. Those who attended did mourn some because everyone had lost a great person but they acknowledged what great works she had done and how she did not veer off her ‘course’.
In summing it all up, yes, Newburyport lost two great individuals but their life should be an inspiration for many new volunteers to stand up and aspire to be the next Urs & Gloria. The need is great. There is so much more work to be done and the course is long and tough.
Who will be the next great leader for historic preservation and open space conservation?