I lost a really good friend last Wednesday night.
So did the community of Blue Earth.
Dr. John Sawyer was one of the first people to welcome me to Blue Earth when I first arrived here to become the editor four years ago. In fact, he did more than just welcome me. He pitched in and helped my wife Pam and me move from a rented townhouse into our home.
John and his wife Marty became our close friends, often inviting us out to dinner and ‘showing’ us local restaurants, as well as including us in trips to concerts and plays, Twins games and golfing excursions.
And, of course, a few evenings of playing cards at their home, something all four of us loved to do.
One of the card playing nights was not so very long ago, even after John had been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma and had six chemo treatments over a six month span.
He was scheduled to have his seventh and final treatment just a day or two after that card playing night.
It was a year ago that we all knew something was wrong. It was easy to see. The normally fit and very energetic Dr. Sawyer was slowed down and appearing very tired. It was during intermission of the Town and Country Players Christmas play exactly one year ago that he told me he knew there was something seriously wrong. And, he was right.
Last Wednesday night he died at home, surrounded by his family.
He will be missed. By many.
John believed in trying to do whatever he could to give back to the community he called ‘home.’ He was a great example to others on how to be an involved citizen of the town one lives in.
His work on the Christmas Wonderland project in Blue Earth is legendary. Even after the event at the fairgrounds ended its run, he was determined to use as many of the light displays around town as possible and worked hard to get them up in place.
But, he volunteered in many areas. He was involved in many projects with the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club, Boy Scouts, United Way, St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center and city committees such as the Charter Commission, HRA and Blue Earth Industrial Service Organization. He was especially active at his church, Trinity Lutheran.
His work was recognized over the years, with the chamber’s Community Service Award, Kiwanis’ highest honor – the Hixon Award, the Boy Scouts’ Silver Beaver Award and Sertoma’s Service to Mankind Award. The honors were very, very well deserved.
But, if you knew John Sawyer at all, you knew he didn’t do his community service work for the accolades and honors. No, he did it for two reasons. A deep love for his community and a desire to help his fellow man.
He kept going to work at his dental clinic long after most folks retired because he loved going to work every day, he said. Dr. Sawyer had a genuine desire to help others, one of the reasons he became a dentist – instead of a civil engineer as he had orignally planned to do. He said he went from building big bridges to building small ones.
Despite his battle with cancer, John continued to do what he could. He was in the office most days to check on things. He attended concerts and plays up until a week and a half before he died. He was at the Kiwanis Club meeting just two weeks before his death.
He told me he was going to keep on living each day to the fullest until he couldn’t any longer. He was an inspiration in how to live, and how to face death. He had an incredible strong faith in his Lord.
The community of Blue Earth is a better place because he decided to move to it 46 years ago.
This community is going to miss him.
And so am I.