Several hundred people, or so it appeared, showed up last Sunday afternoon on a grassy knoll on Lakeshore Drive to celebrate Laura Bry’s life of goodwill and good work. She had died of a heart attack at 53. As we listened to and empathized with the emotional tributes from family and friends, it occurred to us that the gathering said much about where we live. It said you, Sandpoint, are the real stuff.
One of the unspoken rituals of our entrepreneurial society is that the bigger the person the bigger the funeral or memorial service. The more ostentatious the house or houses, the bigger the crowd. The classier the cars and boats, the bigger the crowd. The more exclusive the club or clubs, the bigger the crowd. The more imposing the travels, the more prestigious the profession, paycheck and pals, the more of us show up to pay respects. The bigger the big shot, the more grand the tribute. That’s how it was in California and New York, were we spent decades.
When Donald Trump, just to pull a name out of the hat, checks out, admiring hordes will attend his service. Not all of those who rate Trump at the top of GOP presidential candidates today do so because they agree with his politically incorrect opinions. Most of them undoubtedly do. But many admire something else about him as well. He’s really rich. People such as Trump, no matter how offish and offensive to humankind, are heros to many in an economic system where financial might makes right. No matter how they came by it.
We idolize people who name college buildings and stadiums, hospitals, hotels and investment funds after themselves. We don’t lionize the teachers, students, patients, tenants and investors who benefit from self-promoting big shot munificence. We lionize instead corporate CEO’s, celebrity lawyers, puppet politicians and Wall Street heavy hitters — no matter how much damage the unethical among them have done and continue to do.
Yet those in attendance Sunday on the grass on Lakeshore Drive were there to celebrate one who, as far as we know, barely owned the proverbial pot. She didn’t care. Wealth wasn’t one of her life goals. Helping others was. Greed, to Laura, was Greek. Friends came first.
It said much about the heart, love and class of this community that so many citizens spent last Sunday afternoon and evening saying goodbye to Laura. They were genuine big shots. The real stuff. Just like Laura.