A commentary by Gloria Hafemeister, a correspondent from Hustisford.
We stood in a very long line that wrapped around the halls and gymnasium of Dodgeland High School in Juneau Friday night, Feb. 7. Greeting those coming into the building on a very cold evening wore blue corduroy jackets. Some were local FFA members and others were officers of the state organization who travelled a long way to be there.
Why were all these people there? To pay their respects to a 37-year young Hustisford and Dodgeland agriculture teacher and FFA adviser who unexpectedly passed away earlier in the week.
All around us young people were hugging each other and wiping away tears. If you would ask them, each of them could relay something about how Grace (Miss Roberts to them) had touched their life.
My kids are through school so they didn't benefit from her guidance but I witnessed her influence on the kids over the years when I accepted her invitation to help out with some local FFA event or when she helped me line up students for pictures at State FFA Conventions.
As helpful as she was with letting me know about the achievements of her students, she never let me take her picture. Her focus was always on the kids.
As I stood in line for several hours I was reminded again that the ones who are the most influential in our lives are of the ones we fail to notice. They are just sort of there, but the little things they say or do influence how we think, decisions we make and how we view life itself.
I wondered how many of these tearful youth had thanked their teacher for the loving guidance she had provided. I felt a twinge of guilt myself because I had not actually told her that I noticed what a good job she was doing and that I had heard from youth how her gentle pushing had led them to move out of their comfort zone and follow their dreams.
I thought about all the people who influenced me over the years by the little things they did and said and wished I had taken the time to thank them.
A huge banner in the gym was filled with hand-written, emotional messages to their teacher, now passed away. I'd like to think that she sensed their appreciation even though these young people may have not expressed it to her.
Grace's passing was once again a reminder of who the real heroes are in life. We all tend to look at the big names, football quarter backs, musical legends and even political figures as heroes. They are the star in the center of a quilt that draws everyone's attention. That star, however, would not be there if it weren't for all the tiny stitches that hold the whole thing together.
Grace was one of these stitches and through the lives she touched she has likely done much more for the future of farming and families in this country than our most celebrated heroes.