A Voice Lost and She'll Be Missed...

Why do people write to newspapers and voice their opinions, allowing perfect strangers to read about their personal experiences and beliefs? Is there a secret letter-writers society with a secret handshake and a decoder ring given to all its members? A lot of people have asked me similar questions to these throughout the years, and I really can't give them one answer as every person is unique.

That's exactly what I was made to understand a couple of years ago when the Tribune invited me and other letter writers to a luncheon to meet with the faces behind the words. On this day, our "secret society" featured a former bartender (me), chemist, retired music teacher, former speechwriter, former athlete, ex-cop and a grandmother with one great-grandchild. While all of the people and their professions were self-explanatory to me, one stood out the most over the rest — Gloria Kaplan Sulkin (grandmother, great-grandmother).

I didn't know Gloria and I'm not sure if we were even introduced to each other that day, but I do remember her name from the times I have seen it in the Tribune's Voice of the People section or in the Love/Hate section of the old At Play section.

Gloria's name and Jack Spatafora's are two names that always stand out to me when I would read the letters to the editor on the opinion page. And I found it ironic that Spatafora's latest, "Writing our obituaries" appeared in the Oct. 6 Voice of the People, the day before Gloria's name was in the paper — in her obituary.

After reading of Gloria's death, I went back and read about her and some of her thoughts published in the paper and I came away more impressed with Gloria than I was at the luncheon. Gloria, in introducing herself to our society, came across in person as articulate, thought-provoking, well-spoken, caring and independent. And Gloria's letters always seemed to be relevant of what others were thinking at the time.

Gloria once wrote her "hate" for "when my Mac computer suddenly stops misbehaving and acts like it's the robot and I'm the human being instead of the other way around." Her "love": "When I write a letter of complaint to a company and the firm is courteous enough to send me an answer with an apology."

I'm sure a lot of people agreed with Gloria, and so did I — with many of her letters and thoughts.

I'll miss seeing Gloria's name attached to her latest thoughts, and if our "secret society" ever meets again, I'm going to suggest an empty seat be left open in her honor. The empty seat will not symbolize anything to do with politics, but the seat will symbolize Gloria's passion for writing and how all of us in society lost one of its voices.

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