The passing over the last week of two outstanding public servants, each coincidentally named Gary and each serving with distinction in the state Legislature from rural southwestern Minnesota, helps reinforce the other more important things in common we loved about both of them.
Former state Sen. Gary DeCramer was a standout lawmaker and academic thinker, a key shaper of transportation and environmental policy in the state, including important progress in soil and water conservation. DeCramer also had a distinguished career as a teacher and writer at the University of Minnesota's Humphey School and he was active in his Unitarian Universalist church. He died unexpectedly while on a trip to western Minnesota.
State Sen. Gary Kubly was also a man of faith, a Lutheran pastor who also stood out as a champion for the environment and conservation, including efforts to reduce pollution from giant agribusiness operations, and advocacy for renewable and wind energy. He died after a courageous struggle with Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as ALS.
The most important thing they had common was the intelligent respectfulness they brought to the rough-and-tumble politica area. Both had reputations as diginfied practical progressives who worked hard to find common ground and constructive relationships with their adversaries on the Republican or conservative side of the aise. They were kind and decent ment who left their state and communities a better place.