Montgomery County lost a good man last week.

Don Hallett spent a lifetime serving this county. He served it in politics, in education, in volunteerism . . . the list is long and well-documented.

It all, every single thing, boils down to that one simple sentence. Montgomery County lost a good man last week.

We sometimes forget how big our little corner of the world is. There are just shy of 40,000 souls living in this county. Very few people know more than a handful. Don might be one of the exceptions. Whether he was walking into The Paper's office or walking through Home Depot, there weren't many strangers to Don. (On the off-chance one came along, it wouldn't be a bad bet that Don's lovely bride Ruth Ellen did.) It's not like Don would simply nod and smile. He would stop and talk. Usually tell a joke. Usually a bad one. The kind that made you groan . . . and smile, all at the same time.

He was good at ribbing people and if you didn't rib him right back he'd wonder what was wrong.

From the time our little company got started, Don was a help. He called and offered tips and advice. He sometimes dropped off newspapers that he picked up in his travels. He and Ruth Ellen served as the first chairs of our editorial board that was kicked off in 2008, which might seem odd considering that they were strong Democrats and our paper leans much farther to the right. It wasn't. At all.

The Halletts understood what so many have forgotten or never known. They understood that political differences do not have one tiny thing to do with someone's heart. In today's world, political opponents bitterly despise each other. Don and Ruth Ellen could disagree strongly with your political point of view one minute and invite you for coffee the next.

Don took me to task more than once over something in our paper. After that part of the conversation ended he would tell me about a friend from Seymour or ask how my wife was doing. Don't get the wrong idea, politics was indeed personal to the man. Very much so. Don just understood the intrinsic value in everyone not thinking the same way.

Others would do well to follow his lead.

A few years ago I considered running for elected office and Don was one of the people I sought out for advice. He asked a lot of questions and ultimately offered some insight that helped me make a decision. The fact that we were of different political persuasions didn't deter him at all.

There was a rift in the local Democratic Party a few years ago. Ultimately, Don and Ruth Ellen didn't like the direction the Party was going and backed off their involvement. It was very much the Party's loss. Not too terribly long ago a change in leadership helped bridge the gap and it was good for the Democrats to get the Halletts back. Some political observers will always shake their heads at how any group could manage to lose folks like the Halletts in the first place.

Friends and loved ones are burying Don today. His earthly remains will be at Old Union Cemetery up in Don's beloved Brown Township. Don, however, will be in a far better place. He once asked me something and I told him he was right. His reply was classic Don. "Left my boy, left." That's the direction heaven's leaning a little more toward today.



Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at ttimmons@thepaper24-7.com.