There is a hole in the heart of Patriot today.
There is an emptiness in the community — and in this newspaper.
Sarah Hoffman, community correspondent for the newspaper reporting on the activities in and around Patriot, passed away unexpectedly early Saturday morning.
And we are in shock.
And our hearts of broken.
Sarah hadn’t been the community correspondent for the Patriot community for a long period of time, but she certainly made the job her own. From her front porch on Main Street, Sarah faithfully shared with us all of the happenings going on around her — from the adventures of the local Boy Scout troop to events at Patriot Baptist Church to new faces moving into town.
She told us about new business owners; she told us about important town council topics; she talked about neighbors visiting neighbors.
When plans began to come together to erect a new monument at the Patriot Memorial Park honoring those from the community who lost their lives in defense of this country, Sarah was quick to share that new and encourage everyone to help make it a reality.
In the Spring she was excited to be invited to attend the Patriot School Alumni meeting, and was greatly disappointed when her health would not allow her attendance.
In what is now her final column, printed last week, she shared her excitement about the upcoming Patriot Pals gathering, which is set for September 10th. She was eager about joining in the fun there, as well.
She spent time each week not only reporting on the annual Patriot 4th of July Parade, but one afternoon she came into the newspaper office with an idea: She wanted to ride in the parade using her parents’ convertible, and she was wondering how she might get some signs for the sides of the vehicle letting everyone know that she was the Patriot Community Correspondent.
She didn’t do any of that because she wanted to draw attention to herself — anyone who knew Sarah knew that the last thing she wanted to do was point a spotlight on herself — but she wanted to do it so people would see her and come to know her so they’d share their news with her, and through that her column — and our newspaper — would be even better.
The last time I saw Sarah in person was about a week ago, when she brought the car signs into the office for me to keep.
“Would you please store these for me?” she asked. “I’m already planning on what I can do for the parade next year, and you’ll be able to find these signs then better than I could.”
She also gifted me something that is now incredibly special to me — a hair bow that a friend of her’s had made for her to wear in the parade. It was made from a page of the newspaper that contained her Patriot news. She had two of them, wanted to keep one, so she gave me the other.
And she handed me the signs and one of the hair bows, and she walked out of the office.
And we all miss her.
Mike Jones shared that she had joined the fellowship of Patriot Baptist Church, and was ready and willing to jump in and help out. In her final few columns, she reported on the church’s Vacation Bible School.
But no matter if it was a town meeting or private gathering, Sarah Hoffman loved the Patriot community that she had adopted as her home. She closed each column with some general observations about Patriot and its people; and fittingly, I am still struck by what she wrote last week, July 28th — her final ‘farewell’ to us; but we didn’t know it.
Read Sarah’s words:
I have noticed something very special about living in Patriot: people like to come together to celebrate, whether it be a birthday party, a family cookout, or friends from years past getting together to remember the good ole days.
As we end the month of July, let’s send it out the way we began it — celebrating. Get outside when you can, make memories with family and friends. Have a great week everyone, have fun and stay safe, and cool.
Find rest, dear Sarah. We didn’t know you long, but we were blessed to know you well.Pat