October 25, 2002
Five years ago tomorrow, I was cooking away at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club with the radio going in the background when the KUOW announcer came on prior to the top of the hour news to announce that Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone's plane had crashed and that there were no survivors. My knees buckled and I went down to floor in a giant sob.
There is only a scant fraction of the population who truly embody the concept of personal integrity. That fraction reduces exponentially when talking about politicians. Paul was actually one of a kind.
I did not always agree with Senator Wellstone's positions, although for the most part I did. But never, not once, did I ever question the Senator's motives. There was never any question that Paul did what his convictions demanded.
In 1995, I briefly worked for his campaign dialing the phones to rally core volunteers for the 1996 election. Shortly thereafter I left the Twin Cities to go to culinary school and never looked back.... until that tragic day in 2002.
While in Minnesota a few weeks ago, I made a pilgrimage to Lakeview Cemetery to pay my respects. I walked there with my son and found myself having a talk about wise and great individuals in our midst. My son intuitively picked up one of the pebbles that had fallen to the side the headstone and placed it back along side those left by prior visitors.
Five years after his death the Senator provided one more great teaching-moment about life, death, devotion and integrity. We need another Wellstone.