Death by the Numbers

This week 50 people–might have been 51– gathered at the gravesite of a man who had died 20 years ago. Much of the time was devoted to catching up on old friendships. Health, politics and the memory of this departed hero dominated the chat.

I  was there with my usual array of thoughts. B.T. Collins had been my friend. His exploits remain legendary with those who knew him. His irreverent,dynamic behavior as a public official had put him on the front pages of California newspapers for nearly two decades.

B.T.’s funeral was a big deal. Thousands came to say goodbye to him and a few lamented that his memory would probably fade quickly. It hasn’t.

I remember him for this: he’d call you on your birthday; tell you the truth, even if it hurt; and he kept his word. He was much more than that, but those are the qualities that came to me this week.

Most people, myself included, will not have a group of friends gathering to remember us twenty years after our passing. The 20th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley drew a huge crowd. But there are people today who believe Elvis is still alive. I could say the same about B.T. .

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