As many as 300 people turned out at Rockport's Shalin Liu third-floor function hall Sunday morning, not primarily to hear a musical presentation, but to bid their final farewell to a very special community friend.
The occasion, of course, was the memorial service for the late Elise Hansen, gone all too soon at the age of 45 after the car carrying her and her brother, Marc Hansen, 59, of Talmage, Calif., crashed on an icy Oregon highway a week ago tonight, claiming both their lives.
But while the Sunday morning turnout certainly spotlights the wide circle of family members and friends who were close to Elise and touched by her here on Cape Ann, the fact is, those attending the memorial service also represented merely a fraction of the numbers of people to whom she reached out and helped.
Indeed, as the locally-based U.S. coordinator for the relief group KONPAY — for "Konbit Pou Ayiti" or "Working Together for Haiti" in Haitian Creole — Hansen organized relief projects and trips to Haiti for those looking to learn more about the country and the culture. She was also integral to creating the Reforest Haiti program and had deep love for working with that embattled nation's youth groups. She was, in other words, someone who gave extensively of herself to work for others.
So, as we extend our heartfelt condolences to her family members and countless friends, let us also take comfort in the hope that her work and her legacy live on.
Her loss is one felt by our entire community. May she find the eternal peace she so richly deserves.