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I saw a familiar face in the newspaper this morning. The Free Press occasionally does a feature article on someone who has very recently passed away, someone who has played a part in the public scene here in Mankato, often times a former mayor or city councilman, or someone who was involved in local sports or entertainment; basically anyone who has touched a lot of lives locally.

Today’s paper featured one Bob Schramski. It said he had been on the city council some twelve years back in the 1970s-80s, I believe. He had run for and won the city council seat at the urging of a former mayor, and it turns out the two were often in big battles with one another during the council meetings. But they remained friends, both working for the good of the city and its citizens. He passed away this past weekend at the age of 88.

I had heard the name, Bob Schramski, numerous times, but I never really met the guy … or so I thought.

Back in the mid-90s, when I started walking to strengthen my back muscles, I was walking around the mall when I heard a voice call to me, “Well how are you today, young fellow?” It was a little old guy, had to be nearing 80, walking around the mall faster than I could, and I was in my 40s! He introduced himself as “Bob”, just “Bob”. He talked about the great benefits of walking for one’s health, but he also seemed to have an opinion about just about anything one would care to talk about, and he let you know it! But his attitude was always so positive!

I never got around to asking his last name, nor did I ever get around to talking religion and ascertaining the condition of his soul, so to speak. He would occasionally talk about his own health, mentioning something about cancer treatments over at Rochester, but that was just a small part of his life. He had all sorts of other things to talk about.

Over the past six years, when my schedule changed, I rarely got to walk the mall. That little Bob often crossed my mind, but I didn’t encounter him more than once or twice since I stopped walking. Now that I started walking the mall again, about three weeks ago, I had begun to wonder whatever happened to that little Bob. He used to walk in the afternoons; I was back walking in the morning again. I figured I would have to walk in the afternoon if I was to encounter that little Bob again. I would plan on walking in the afternoon again one of these days, and see if I ran into that little Bob and his flat hat again.

Well, I started reading the article in this morning’s Free Press, when I glanced at the photo of this Bob Schramski guy. My gosh, that face was familiar; then I noticed the flat hat – sure enough, it was that little Bob! It said he passed away over the weekend.

So I had heard the name. He was involved in city government for a while; he was far better known to other folks than to me. But for a while, my life was touched by that little Bob, as we walked side-by-side around the mall, talking about our lives and loved ones, and the current events at the time.

You don’t have to do great things in the world. But just be like that little Bob – reach out to people around you. Be a friend. Touch people’s lives. It will matter far more than you will ever know.

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