Sad, but inspirational


(Kathleen Ulrich) #1

The founder of a personal interest community that I am simply a member
of passed away this week. His user name was Chester. I want to share the
story with you because it affirms why we do what we do. Chester had not
been online since December 9 - out of character. Someone in Minnesota
had his cell and tried to contact him. She knew his general location in
Western New York. On December 14th, the call went out – did anyone know where to find him? Turned out a member had a connection who was a real life buddy of Chester’s - they went to his home on the 15th. Lights on, cars in the driveway, screen doors locked from the inside. A lot of community members were online, waiting for updates and sending good thoughts, sharing concern. The people at Chester’s home called 911 and sheriffs came, broke in, and found Chester had passed. Neighbors had not noticed anything. The sheriffs notified Chester’s family and now Chester can rest in peace.

As one poster said, he was the first online friend that she had experienced passing. “It makes no difference; it is still very hard.”

For a couple of days we were in danger of losing the community and/or the content. Chester had not shared any of his logon information or webhosting and domain name agreements. It turned out that the domain name and hosting were both set to expire at the end of this year. Fortunately, a member of Chester’s family spent about 3 hours with a community admin and they were able to transfer ownership and pay the bills. So that is a lesson to be learned.

Now the challenge is moving forward or even if we should move forward
without Chester. Most people want to keep the community alive and several members have stepped up to take on larger roles in the community. Does anyone have any advice or a similar story?


What do you enjoy most about community management?
(Sarah Hawk) #2

Wow – that’s indeed inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

Huge lessons to be learned about sharing login information etc, especially if the community isn’t part of a business.

I experienced the death of a pivotal community member a few years back, and it had a huge impact on the dynamics of the community. We decided to celebrate his life (and contributions) by creating an award (in the way of a badge) that one community member would win each year for exceptional contributions to the community. It felt like a fitting way to remember him.

I hope things work out moving forward Kathy.


(Richard Millington) #3

Thanks so much for posting this story Kathleen.

I think many of us have an experience now of a death of a valued community members. I remember one back in the video gaming space that still occasionally affects me.

I don’t think we have a standard response yet for any way (if we need to) memorialise a lost member. I know Facebook does this with certain types of pages but every community seems to do it in their own way - which might be best.


(Kathleen Ulrich) #4

Thank you for the responses. The family streamed the memorial, which is a trend in memorial services, but it allowed members of the community the ability to be online together in virtual attendance – The family had a table up with community memorabilia and at one point in the service - blew kisses to the community! Members in the community attended and reported back to the community.

Lots of incredible energy now to move forward and a spike in membership. There are a few geographic meet-ups being planned to celebrate Chester’s life as well.

I think there will be a more permanent memorial suited to this community-- I have an idea, but I think it will arise organically. :smile:

Thanks again for allowing me to share this story.