It’s been a very, very difficult few weeks in the Lakeland area.
During that short time span, the area’s residents have been shocked by the loss of four individuals in two separate motor vehicle accidents.
The first of those accidents resulted in the death of Robert Lemmer, a longtime area resident, family man and employee of an area business. In addition, a few days after the accident, Timothy Needham, of Peoria, Ill., a young man with many friends in the area, passed away from injuries suffered in that crash on Blue Lake Road in the town of Minocqua.
Two weeks ago, we were all stunned at the news of the weekend Greenfield accident that took the life of Diane Chart, another well-known and respected Lakeland area resident. She had recently taken over as the executive director at the Northwoods Wildlife Center.
Also in the vehicle were Chart’s young son, Dylan, and Tomas Saraví, the foreign exchange student at Lakeland Union High School who had been staying with the Charts.
Dylan is recovering from his injuries, but Tomas passed last week from his injuries.
The hurt from the loss of these people will never go away. They touched so many lives that the effects across the area and literally across the world was profound.
If any good comes out of either of these tragedies, it is in knowing that so many care; so many will do as much as they can to help the families and friends of those lost.
We point directly to the efforts of the many Lakeland Rotary Club volunteers who were instrumental in helping the Chart and Saraví families in so many ways.
These people didn’t have to do anything, but they did. They stepped up to help bring Tomas’s family to the states and after Tomas passed, they helped organize a remembrance gathering where many of his friends had the opportunity to gather and grieve.
What these volunteers selflessly gave of their time speaks volumes about the community and those who live here.
Though the loss of one of their brightest and friendliest of students struck a huge blow to the Rotary’s Youth Exchange Program, it should not slow the organization’s efforts in bringing more students to the Northwoods. What this program will offer so many more students in the future will only continue to honor of all who have been lost.
Time always heals, but the love will never be lost. Anyone who knew the deceased understand this.
As a community, we grieve. But we also celebrate all that made our lives better for knowing these individuals.
We move on with their memories in our hearts.