Letter from Cheri Grennan-Smith, Gary's Niece

 I came to Boston last week, as I have several other times throughout the years but this time to say goodbye instead of hello.  As I was there, I stood in awe of the Gary Bellow I never knew.  

Oh, I knew of his books and of his advocacy for the poor.  I had been to his office, sat in on one of his classes and had even been to the court house with Aunt Jeanne and him one day.  But I never really knew the Gary Bellow that I came to know this past week.  The e-mails, the conversations, the telephone calls and the funeral service.  They all spoke of a man who seems to be a legend. To me he was just Uncle Gary.  

I think that just adds to the wonderful sort of human being he was. My three sisters and my parents have had Gary in our lives for 20 years, since he married my Aunt Jeanne, but during those 20 years when he was with us, even though there was always business being done, he was just our Uncle.   

We knew him as a man who loved his family, who always wanted to pick out just that special Christmas gift for Jeanne, Douglas, Courtenay and David by himself, who always wanted to hear about our lives, relationships, work and how we were “really” feeling.  Whose great accomplishment in his life, we thought, was the Northern Pike he caught in the lake near our house (even after all the stories I’ve read I still think that was right up there!!!) You would never know that this man was such a “someone” in the world.  That he had made such a difference.  

He was just a very special man who could differentiate between family life and business life and could do it well enough to keep the two separate when needed and obviously made each feel that they were the most important thing in his life.  How many individuals can we say that of.  I think, Uncle Gary, that is the greatest tribute to you.  You will always be in our hearts every day...in your own special way.

Your Niece
Cheri Grennan-Smith.

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