I just learned this weekend that Kelly Stern, a blogger I met online when I lived in Richmond died just a few days after he turned 50.
I did not know Kelly Stern very well at all. But I became aware of him more than a dozen years ago when I lived in Richmond.
We never actually met in person but we chatted a few times online about the crazy world of blogging. He always struck me as a really nice guy. I hoped that at some point, we might get to meet in person to talk blogging over a cup of coffee.
Unfortunately, that never happened.
Also, unfortunately, we lost touch with each other over the years, though we remained friends on Facebook.
It’s an odd thing about Facebook. You can be “friends” without being friends, no matter how much you’d like to be friends.
Earlier this month, I saw on Facebook that Kelly posted about having turned 50. I knew he suffered several serious health setbacks over the years. But I was happy to see that he seemed to be doing better. (At least from what I could tell.)
On Sunday, I began noticing a few posts from people talking about what a great guy he was. Then I saw the first of several RIP posts.
That’s another odd thing about Facebook. It’s now the first way some of us learn of the passing of someone we know. I learned of the deaths of my friends Rick Stilwell and Joel Connable that same way.
I pieced together some details from public posts made on Facebook. Kelly celebrated his 50th birthday on July 17. At some point, his family was unable to reach him. When they did, they found he’d suffered an apparent fall. The fall led to some sort of brain injury from which he could not recover.
He elected to become an organ donor at some point in the past, and the hospital was able to make that wish a reality.
He died on Wednesday, just four days after his 50th birthday.
That hits home for me.
I turned 50 back in November. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that 50 is far too young to die.
Kelly also had a background in TV, working as a reporter and photographer many moons ago at WSLS in Roanoke. By the time I moved to Richmond, he had left that business, but TV was something we had in common.
Along with blogging.
I mentioned Kelly and his blog, which was then known as Rambling Along in Life…with a Stern Point of View back in 2007. At some point, he gave up his blog. I know that because at some point the link to his site came back as broken. I wish now that I had reached out to him then. But like so many of us, life keeps us busy and we always think there’ll be time…some other time.
Back in 2007 after I moved from Richmond, I wrote about a celebration of diversity in the blogosphere. It was launched by, of all people, Kelly himself.
He posted a photo of a rainbow, pointing out that June is National Gay Pride Month, and encouraged others to post a rainbow image he took in Richmond.
More than that, he posted this:
[This challenge] is about societies around the world learning to accept people for being themselves… diversity. Gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, skinny or fat… we need to be a little more accepting these days.
Kelly’s message in 2007 still rings true in 2020. We still have such a long way to go.
Thanks, Kelly, for the reminder.
Rest in peace.