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Opinion | Life lessons from the desert of southeastern Oregon

By William K. Hart
On September 20, 2012

On Saturday, Sept. 15 while many of you were watching the RedHawks football team get buried by the Broncos of Boise State I was participating in a very different burial, and one of far greater meaning than any sporting event can possibly claim.

I traveled through Bronco country to Mustang country, or what has often been referred to as the "forgotten corner of the west," to attend the funeral of long-time friend Robert H. Skinner in Jordan Valley, Oregon.

Bob was born and raised on the Skinner Ranch to the west of Jordan Valley and spent more than three-quarters of his 92 years in selfless and tireless devotion to the land and the life it supported in this lava, sage, and grass covered high desert countryside he so loved and honored.

Bob's passion for and curiosity about his surroundings led to a lifetime of learning and sharing.

It was clear from the hundreds of family members, friends, community members, ranchers and public figures gathered in celebration of Bob's lifetime of commitment and service to family, friends, community, country and the ranching industry, that something I had known for quite some time was appreciated by many; Bob was a very special person who devoted his life to doing not just the right thing but to doing genuine good. And he did so with quiet dignity and sincerity.

OK, you have followed the commentary this far and probably have received a few text messages and phone calls while doing so. But hang in there a bit longer, step back from your wired life and ponder the true meaning of some of the words used above.

Words such as selfless, tireless, passion, curiosity, devotion, commitment, service, dignity, sincerity, love and honor that so often are over- or even misused, but not in this case.

Bob was a gentleman who embodied not only the good but the best of what these words truly mean. On my return flights there was much time to reflect on this rather incredible weekend and the life that it celebrated. In turn I challenge you to reflect and act on the following questions. How and will any of us so profoundly and positively touch the lives of so many? And will we do so with dignity and sincerity?

The answers fall to each of us as we conduct our daily activities and chart our course beyond the next sunset.

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