News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Letters to the Editor 12/13/2023

Goodbye to a community icon

To the Editor:

One of our community icons is gone.

He was the first to greet us when we came, often the last to catch the eye when leaving. He was the one we said goodbye to, in a way thanking him for a good time—the host of the party that is Sisters. He hung out at most public events, helped around town, especially if music was involved. I think he deserves a few words from one of us.

The last time I connected with Jack Nagel was at The Belfry, a Halloween party. I never do that kind of thing, so it was a stretch to dress up and beg a friend to go with me, but I had decided this would be the year to expand a bit, step out of my hermit ways. Of course Jack was there, dressed in priest robes. One of his grandkids happily stamped my hand. He asked how my boys were doing .

I know the priest robes were his idea of a joke but there was something about Jack that said: “I’ve seen some things in life, so welcome, and bless you my friend.” When he looked at me, I felt seen, with a slow mountain-man kind of wisdom, an acceptance that we don’t get to experience much nowadays. I believe many can attest to the same thing.

I remember this last summer being outside The Barn in the food cart area, listening to a band. Jack sat not far away. During a break in the music we chatted. He said he hadn’t seen me around town much and wondered if I was visiting. I told him about my hermit ways. He grinned and said, “Not me. I love being out. I love people.”

Yes, Jack loved people. He accepted everyone as they were. He knew just enough about each of us who have lived in Sisters a bit, enough to connect. It’s amazing what an open heart and a welcoming twinkle in the eye can do for community.

The last time I “really saw” Jack, his son was playing on stage at The Belfry (another who has become a tribute to community connections). We danced a little jig as I walked toward the door. For the first time ever, I gave him a goodbye hug, priest robes and all. I’m so glad I did! Goodbye, old soul. A piece of us is missing.

Bren Smith


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