Former mayor Sara Triplett was on a first-name basis with almost everyone in town -- which is how they'll remember her.
Growing up in a small town, there are people you get to know on a first name basis, as you greet them walking down the street or wave to them as they drive by you.
There are others, however, who we get to know on a more personal basis, especially if you have been in the same town for any extended period of time.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of getting to know a lot of people by first name, but the list of those I know personally is much smaller. Those are the people I know I can talk to about far more important life issues than the weather or how the local football team did Friday night.
For me, one of those people was Sara Triplett, and even though we had a professional relationship when she served as mayor of Redwood Falls, I always felt when doing an interview with her there was a level of care and compassion little seen among politicians at any level.
Sara Triplett and the whole Triplett family were friends with my parents long before I ever said a word to Sara. So, she knew much more about me than I did about her when that first face to face interview took place. (Of course, having her husband, Trip, as my barber for much of my life meant she probably heard a few stories about me from him, too.)
Whenever we would talk, she would ask about my family, and with Mark and Becky just a little older than I was in school I certainly knew them, too.
So, we would often talk about family, which I knew was very important to her.
There are so many words that people have used to describe Sara to me over the past few days, and, from my experience, I would definitely concur.
She was indeed a woman of great integrity and courage. It was under her leadership in the community that things like the public library and the community center came into existence.
Now if she were here today she would tell us all it was the team approach that got those projects done, which was another of those traits she consistently demonstrated – humility.
Sara was certainly a no-nonsense leader, but she was also one who exhibited through her actions that she valued the opinions of others. She was a listener and always strived to build consensus and compromise.
I have heard stories about Sara’s work ethic and her commitment to others. She was a role model any woman could and should emulate.
There are, as Vicki Phillips told me, many young women who went on to lead much more productive lives because they received that loving mentoring from Sara Triplett.
Like any good leader, Sara led by example throughout her life, and she would be the first to give others credit all the while downplaying her role in any of it.
Although it was not a regular occurrence, I am still going to miss being able to sit down with Sara and get her perspective on the issues of the city, on family and her faith – which everyone knew was a very important part of her life.
I offer my condolences to the Triplett family and to a city which has lost the kind of community leader who has made a great difference in ways we all may never fully realize.
Thank you, Sara.