You may recall the first time I experienced the death of community member.  It was a lot tougher than I’d ever imagined. Actually, I’d never given it much thought, and when it happened it was pretty tough. This member was young, vibrant and very well-liked in the community and believe me…the mourning was real.

Not too long after we had another member die as well. He was on vacation at the time and the news came as a shock. He’d recently blogged about his back surgery but there were no indications that he’d been sick.

When his partner announced in a blog post that he’d died, the community was mourning once again.

But what I want to share with you is his obituary. The online community was so important to him that his loved ones felt the need to mention it in his obituary. That last piece of information characterizing his life for all to remember including his involvement in an online community.

Here are the two excerpts that mention the community specifically:

John (GoPanthers) could frequently be found in the WRAL Community Forum GOLO until sidelined by his back surgery in March 2008. John loved animals both in nature and house pets. He was the proud father of Madison, a miniature Schnauzer and two Persian cats Sophie and Zoey.

…Brenda and Wayne Griffin, Vickie Abate, Peggy Holder and the many friends of John’s (GoPanthers) at WRAL’s GOLO Community Forum, including Juli, Lolly, and Mary.

I find it amazing that three of his best friends, who were important enough to mention in his obituary were found online, in the community I launched and continue to nurture.  That speaks volumes to what communities mean to the people in them.  The next time someone asks you why communities matter, tell them this story.

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