Yesterday I attended a beautiful memorial service for an education professor from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Janette Klingner was a colleague of my wife, Dr. Karla. I had only a casual and, regrettably, short acquaintance with Janette, talking to her at School of Education functions and social events. Although I l was but the husband, dragged along for the ride, Janette always made me feel welcome and was genuinely interested in both my school and in my writing.

As a tertiary figure at her memorial service, I had an interesting perspective, being able to observe how profound her impact was on so many people. As it turns out, the way Janette made me feel was the way she made everyone she was with feel — she gave everyone all of her attention and energy, and made you feel like you were the most important person on the planet at the moment.

She was remarkable that way.

Jeanette was a prodigious author 15 books to her name and countless articles to her credit in the field of her passion, Special Education,(too many to mention here) and so I heard from students she helped, PhD’s she mentored and colleagues she worked with. Janette was the kind of person who apologized to one of her PhD candidates for not being able to continue to help her because Janette was dying of cancer.

Her selflessness and optimism were boundless.

I heard from her parents, her four younger brothers and from her husband Dr. Don, who all shared her profound love and full life on a much deeper, richer level, one that I only glimpsed.

During the ceremony I thought about the exemplars, ancient sages and religious leaders we all know about. It struck me that many times it’s difficult to connect to someone who has lived so long ago and lived so far away.

Not so with Janette.

Hearing about the impact, the influence, the difference this one person I knew has made and will continue to make on so many teachers, and as a result on their students, across the country has left me with the feeling of inspiration, inspiration to be the kind of teacher, friend and family member like she was.

Jeanette’s compassion, concern and care made her an everyday sage, one I am grateful to have known for even a short time.