Left Justified: The death of a local artist

Left Justified: The death of a local artist

By Stanley Campbell

By Stanley Campbell

The death of a local artist

Rockford’s artists leave. At least, most of the time. Anyone with any talent finds a job in another city other than their own Rock River hometown. So those few intrepid and artful souls who decide to make their living here in the Sinnissippi Valley should be honored.

And I would like to honor one who recently passed away. Everyone knew him as Jack Pine. If you ever wandered into the old Charlotte’s Web building on First Avenue, you saw Jack’s work. He designed and constructed the upstairs listening room and ran the lights for most of the shows. I got to know Jack there.

He was scruffy and wore baseball caps and spoke pointedly and directly. Sometimes he was literally in your face. But at his memorial service, I was reminded that he had served as a medic in Vietnam. He saved many lives with his bare hands. Someone related a story where Jack reached into the sliced armpit of a fellow worker, squeezing off the main artery and prevented the person from bleeding to death.

I was in Vietnam, but I was in a protected position. Rarely would I see blood. Jack saw it every day, and yet he came back to this world full of life, ideas, love and support for his fellow human beings.

At the memorial service, the United States government gave Jack an American flag. How well he deserved that because he was a true American who expressed himself freely, defended other people’s rights and was concerned about peace and justice in the world, and actually did something about it.

There are not too many guys like Jack Pine in the world, and losing him because of lung cancer (he smoked like a chimney) is a disgrace, and I hope the tobacco companies have to pay through the nose because they are still killing people.

Rest in peace, Jack, because you brought a little peace into this world, yourself.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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