When word got out that Rae had died the comments on Facebook were voluminous. Former students, colleagues, friends and relatives wrote heartfelt comments about how Rae had touched their lives. Some went to college because Rae encouraged them. Some made it through a hard times because Rae was there for them. There were hundreds of such comments and the common thread through all was that Rae made them feel special, loved and worthy. She did not judge...she accepted, she did not spew hate but gave love. Her deep, solid laugh was contagious...and she would have everyone laughing at her stories.
I have written many Rae stories on my blog and there will be more...but today I need to honor the person she was for everyone. She had the ability to see a situation or problem...assess it...and come up with a solution that usually worked the best for everyone. This must have been a talent she had early in her life. She coached lots of teams and led the cheerleaders to National Champions. I am not sure how many times...but a few. This was quite a feat for a small district like West Jefferson, Ohio.
She not only coached athletic teams....she also coached the Future Problem Solvers which required strong thinking skills. Those teams also became State Champs year after year and placed in the national competitions too. Whatever Rae coached, she set high expectations for herself and her teams. She pushed hard and her students always reached those goals. They worked hard for her because they knew she valued each of them. She wanted them to experience that often they could accomplish much more themselves if they set goals and believed in themselves. Of course, all this was done knowing that Rae believed in each of them and wanted each to feel confident and secure.
Rae's one quote that she said often was; "I see no obstacles...I only see challenges." And this was how she led her life. Where many would give up or feel unsure about attempting something...Rae would jump in with focus and energy. If she truly believed in something she was tenacious and driven to see it through.
She would tell her students who felt they may not be smart enough to follow a dream that intelligence was just a small part of success. Anyone with average intelligence could be just about anything as long as they worked hard, stay focused, and believed in themselves.
It's weird how life goes on after someone special has died. Even with the great emptiness and sadness I feel with her death...I still make Thanksgiving plans, people still celebrate birthdays, everyone continues their daily routines. People still watch the Buckeyes (and some say Rae might have been instrumental in the OSU victory over Michigan State). This must be done. The circle of life does not stop but for one person...the rest of us must continue living our own circles. We are all the more richer in having Rae in our lives.
We had her memorial on November 9, 2014 at the Columbus Park of Roses shelter house. I planned for about 150 people. There was standing room only. The caters lost count at 250 people. What a tribute to have so many attend to honor her life. When I spoke at her memorial I ended with these words. "And so my friend...as the drum beats the heart beat of Mother Earth and the sun rises to greet us each morning....I will know that your spirit rides the wind...and Oh....what a ride it will be."
Here is a slide show of some pictures of Rae and friends and family.