Too Soon Departed

Individuals Who Died Too Young

By Jeff Salter

An unusual topic this week… and rather sad. We’re contemplating individuals who left us too soon. As I reflected on this, I realized I was thinking about three very different groups of people. One group featured individuals who were influential on the world stage, another focused on those who made important literary contributions… and a third was about family.

I’ll start with family

Possibly because my daughter has lately been working tirelessly on genealogy, my wife (when asked about this topic) thought of her grandfather, Halleck Williams (who lived right here in Possum Trot). Denise’s grandfather died some 22 months before she was born — on the very morning that I was born three states away. Her grandfather Williams was born poor and lived poor, but he had a rich life as husband, father, church deacon, and hardworking provider.

After Denise mentioned her grandfather, I naturally remembered my own, Willie M. Robinson of Alabama. He was born into the large family of a small town doctor and was the only one of four male siblings to move away. After serving in France during WW I, my grandfather came home and began working with the phone company, where he was promoted rapidly and still working when he died of a heart attack in his middle fifties in Atlanta. His death occurred about three months before I was born, when my mom had me in her sixth month of pregnancy.


President John F. Kennedy

World Stage

Lots of the world leaders who made their mark have lived to ripe old ages, but one who was cut down in his prime was also one who made a big impact on me because of his youth, vigor, charm, and personality. I’m speaking, of course, of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who served less than three years of his presidential term — those fabled “thousand” days — before being assassinated on the streets of Dallas in November 1963. He was about 46. As a grownup, I might not have seen eye-to-eye with all of JFK’s politics and policies… and we’ve since learned he was definitely no angel in his personal life. But I think it’s a national tragedy that our country never got to benefit from some of the GOOD things he was trying to do. [One huge issue was that JFK wanted to get our troops out of Vietnam; had he lived, he likely would have avoided the majority of the deaths and disabling wounds of our soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen.]

To understand a bit more of the impact on me, here’s a blog from earlier this summer in which I refer to JFK:

Literary Contributions

I didn’t stop to count names, but certainly there were several important authors who died way too young. Edgar Allan Poe is one who had achieved a degree of fame, but had so many personal demons, that he died wretchedly at age 40.

But my heart really goes out to those creative individuals who were posthumously declared to be literary giants… but during their lifetimes gained little attention at all. One whose poems I really love is Emily Dickinson, who died at age 56 with less than a dozen of her 1800 poems published. Some of those few published were heavily edited by someone who thought he was doing her a favor (but actually butchered her lines). Others were published anonymously. In quality and quantity, most of her work was written during the Civil War years, 1861-65. For most of the latter half of her life, Dickinson was a melancholy recluse. I wish she could have lived to see how important her poetry became after it was finally revealed and read.


One of the very few authenticated photos of Emily Dickinson, taken when she was about 16 or 17 years old.


Is there anyone – for whatever reason – who YOU believe died too young?

[JLS # 349]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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10 Responses to Too Soon Departed

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    My paternal grandfather died before I was born. He was an artist, educated both in Japan and in Europe, and came to America to supervise the art studio at a furniture factory in Grand Rapids. I’m fortunate to own a few of his beautiful paintings, and wonder how much more he could have created if he’d lived longer. He’s one of three people I chose to travel with me on the endless road trip.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. As for family, not too many died particularly young, (I was born into a family of older folk). I did not get to meet either grandfather nor my father’s mother. My paternal grandfather died in a milling accident when he was in his 50s, but more than likely he would have died of something else by the time I was born.
    I found myself flummoxed with this topic to begin with, but now I have quite a list for tomorrow. JFK was one who occurred to me while thinking about this subject, but there are so many others.No way could I choose one.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Joselyn says:

    My paternal grandfather dies when I was about 2 weeks old. It’s hard to say he was gone too soon as he was 92. He probably wouldn’t have lived long enough for me to remember him if he hadn’t fallen and broken his hip.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jbrayweber says:

    Great post, Jeff.
    I would have liked for my grandfather to have met my kids. There is so much he could have taught them. Plus, I would have like to talk to him more about his life so that I might have documented it.

    Beyond my family and veering into celebrities, James Dean and Heath Ledger died way too soon. Many great singer/songwriters, people I had connected with through their music, have passed too soon recently as well.

    But honestly, any young life lost is a tragedy when you think about the potential they might have had. And, really, every person that passes is gone too soon for someone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      yes, very true — every young person’s life that ends too soon is tragic.
      That reminds me of a couple who was in our Sunday School class over 20 yrs ago. Their toddler son developed a brain tumor and after a lengthy battle, died. They were understandably heartbroken… as were we in the class who tried to grapple with the how and why of such a young life taken so horribly early.

      Liked by 1 person

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