Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Westfield loses a voice of compassion and caring

It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you of the passing of one of our own, Scepter66. He was a resident of Westfield for many years, and was an eager contributor to this blog. As he battled pancreatic cancer over this past year, he still took time to give us a journey down Harford Road on New Year's Eve, and was keeping a keen eye on the re-opening of Chokchai, a local favorite of his.

I have written a longer tribute to Scepter66/ John Steber at my own blog, Nailing Jello to the Wall. John was a loyal reader there and enjoyed discussing politics and current world events. An excerpt from my post follows:
John was an excellent writer, and always left great comments here. The thoughtful kind that I personally always have a hard time leaving at blogs myself. He also dabbled with keeping his own blog to express his feelings about the battle he was going through, although I think felt a little self-conscious about being too revealing of his emotions in front of the strangers of the blogosphere. The quote in the title ["coping with life. facing death. seeking wisdom."] is from his blogger profile. You can get an idea of what kind of man he was by reading from the last post on his blog, Colonial Vulcan, where he quotes Ben Franklin:
"How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, His precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep holidays than commandments."
And I would be remiss if I didn't also mention that John was a regular writer at a local blog that we started in our neighborhood, Harford Road, Hon. In fact, he was our regular roving reporter, with posts such as his photo journey down Harford Road on New Year's Eve. He also was a great advocate for the local restaurants in the neighborhood, and kept a keen eye on openings and closings. "Harford Road Hon" has not been the same without John, and again, I always felt he was my reader whenever I posted there. I will miss writing something funny and imagining his laugh when he read it.

It often seems cliche to say someone fought a "brave battle" with cancer -- that is, until you see someone wage that battle. When you see the terrible toll that this disease takes on the body, you wonder at how anyone could be strong enough to cope. But John fought hard and strong, keeping his dignity and compassion for others throughout his ordeal. Even when it became obvious that the experimental treatment he was undergoing was not helping, he insisted on continuing, because it might help someone else down the road. I can only hope that if faced with this type of personal challenge, I would be half as strong as John was in facing it head-on.
Donations may be made to the Gilchrist Center Hospice of Baltimore in memory of John Steber.