...and leave behind astonishing stories and inspiring legacies that just beg to be captured in the one-line obituaries.
While searching through Flickr for a photo to illustrate my post, I found this one, which was posted by Brian Schuetz. (Click photo to see more of his work.)
I'm not sure when Tommy Williams died or where he lived, but reading about him in the early hours of March 3, 2007, his life once again had resonance.
Keith Kyle, historian and writer: "He was devoid of guile and incapable of envy."
Alan McDiarmid, scientist and Nobel laureate, speaking for himself: "I am a very lucky person and the harder I work, the luckier I seem to be."
Mai Ghoussob, Publisher, writer and artist: "She was without compromise, but she always cared for everyone."
Job Bwayo, renowned scientist and AIDs researcher, killed in a carjacking: "Bwayo had a towering physique, a smile for everyone, and an expression that gave hope to all."
Celia Franca, dancer, choreographer and teacher: "If I was born to anything, it was to start a ballet company and boss people around."
Howver, Thomas Williams, who made the caretaking of graves into a solemn avocation, come upon by accident on Flickr, was the one who made it hardest to choose a single line .
There was this: "He had never required the services of a physician or a dentist in his life."
And this: "Grief stricken families found in him a sympathetic listener."
Or perhaps it is the simplest line of all that says it best: "Mr. Williams was a kindly man."