In 2016, the world said goodbye to many, many talented individuals.
Some brought us laughter, some beautiful music, some classic books, and some beloved characters. Others were controversial, and others universally loved.
Everyone, however, even those who were only known in their own circles, had something to say.
With the year coming to a close, it is the perfect time to let the words of just a few of those who passed away in 2016 help us all make 2017 the best year ever.
The Music Makers:
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I know it won’t be boring.” — David Bowie, in Madison Square Garden, 1997
“If you don’t like the world you’re living in, take a look around you, At least you got friends.” — Prince, from “Let’s Go Crazy”
“Lighten up while you still can. Don’t even try to understand. Just find a place to make your stand… and take it easy.” — Glenn Frey (from “Take It Easy,” co-written by Jackson Brown)
“(The) significant events of our lives become our spiritual story… it’s the lessons of my spiritual story that have made me a survivor and kept my head to the sky.” — Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White, from his book My Life With Earth, Wind and Fire
“When the world wide war is over and done, and the dream of peace comes true, we’ll all be drinking that free bubble up and eating that rainbow stew.” — Merle Haggard, singer, songwriter and the “Okie From Muskogee,” from his song “Rainbow Stew”
“I still believe that music is one of the greatest gifts that God gave to man.” — pop icon George Michael formerly one-half of Wham! (Source: Mirror)
“I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you. And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the lord of song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah.” — songwriter Leonard Cohen, from his contemporary masterpiece “Hallelujah”
The Pages of Authors:
“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. — author Harper Lee, from To Kill A Mockingbird
“Show not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths.” — Umberto Eco, from The Name of The Rose
“Whatever you think in life… think higher and feel deeper.” — Elie Wiesel, author of Night and Holocaust survivor
“(S)ometimes a person has to go a very long distance out of his way to come back a short distance correctly.” — playwright Edward Albee, from The American Dream
“I remember drawing the first issue (of Preacher) thinking, ‘This is either going to bomb completely or enough people will get it to make it a cult success.'” — Steve Dillon, co-creator of Preacher (with Garth Ennis) and co-producer of the television series it inspired in an EW in May 2016, and illustrator of The Punisher, Hellblazer, and many more
“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” — author W.P. Kinsella, from Shoeless Joe, the inspiration for Field of Dreams and the man who first penned “If you build it, he will come.”
“So long as we learn it doesn’t matter who teaches us, does it?” — author E.R. Braithwaite, from his novel To Sir, With Love
“I’d rather succeed in doing what we can than fail to do what we can’t.” — author Richard Adams, from Watership Down
The Ambitious Athletes:
“Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” — Muhammad Ali, “The Greatest” (just ask Sonny Liston)
“If I’ve learned anything by playing professional hockey for 32 years, it’s that you have to love what you do. And that’s not just true for sports.” — Gordie Howe (from his autobiography Mr. Hockey), the player who inspired the term “Hat Trick”
“Stay strong!” — X-Games BMX pro, David Mirra, in Freestyle BMX 2
“Don’t be afraid to fail. Experience is just mistakes you don’t make anymore.” — Joe Garagiola, baseball player and announcer
“Making a positive change in the life of a child is one of the most significant things you can do,” — Hall of Fame Golfer and philanthropist Arnold Palmer (from his official website), the man who inspired the “Arnie’s Army” fandom
“There is no such thing as self-respect without respect for others.” —Pat Summitt, (from her book Reach for the Summit) women’s college basketball coach, and the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history
Those Who Took Us to the Stars (In This Universe and Others):
“Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.”— Carrie Fisher (from her book Wishful Drinking), actress, author, and science fiction royalty as Star Wars’ Princess Leia
“From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty.” — Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, author of Way of The Explorer
“I have no time for regret. These things come and go in show business.” — Erik Bauersfeld (from a 2011 interview with SFGate on being passed over for the voice of Yoda), voice actor behind Stars Wars’ Admiral Ackbar and Bib Fortuna, who did say other things besides “It’s a trap!”
“A career doesn’t make a whole life. But perhaps, when a career brings peace, joy, and a sense of true purpose, it can, at the very least, help shape a life and one’s outlook on it.” — Anton Yelchin (from 2011 Indiewire interview), Chekov in the latest Star Trek film series.
“I have never ever felt exploited because of my size, in fact quite the opposite. I have exploited the natural assets I was born with.” — Kenny Baker (to blogger Josh Gill), actor and Star Wars’ R2-D2
“I think people have a responsibility to their own humanity to try to manifest themselves as a real human being. I’d like to think I’m on my way to being a fully realized human being.” — actor Ron Glass (in a 2007 NewsBlaze interview), Derrial “Shepherd” Book, in the iconic “space western” Firefly (but he was Det. Harris in Barney Miller first)
“I suppose the one quality in an astronaut more powerful than any other is curiosity. They have to get some place nobody’s ever been.” — John Glenn, first American astronaut to orbit the Earth
..and Those From Worlds of Pure Imagination:
“A film, a piece of theatre, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.” — Alan Rickman, who brought Harry Potter’s Severus Snape to life like no one else could.
“Which one of us, anywhere in the world, doesn’t yearn to be believed when the audience is watching?” — Gene Wilder, actor, author, and a generation’s Willy Wonka, from his autobiography Kiss Me Like a Stranger
“Nice guys finish first. If you don’t know that, then you don’t know where the finish line is.” — Garry Shandling, comedian and sleeper Hydra agent Senator Stern
“Sometimes it is the simplest, seemingly most inane, most practical stuff that matters the most to someone.” — Patty Duke, actress, mental health advocate, and mother of “Samwise Gamgee” (Sean Astin)
“Fame has never been an issue for me. I can honestly say that I have never, ever had any unpleasant encounters with fans or autograph collectors. I guess I just attract the mature, respectful fan.” — Noel Neill, actress and the first portrayer of Lois Lane in the 1948 Superman serials (and Ella Lane in 1978’s Superman and Gertrude Vanderworth in 2006’s Superman Returns)
“The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand.” — actor Bill Nunn (as Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing), also known as Robbie Robertson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man
“I know that for the rest of my life I will remain a work in progress…” — Florence Henderson, The Brady Bunch‘s matriarch Carol Brady, from her autobiography Life Is Not a Stage
Although these individuals will not see 2017 themselves, remember their words and let them inspire you throughout the year. This way, their memories and magic will remain with us, as Severus Snape said… “Always.”
This list is dedicated to Debbie Reynolds, a fellow El Paso native and mother of Galactic royalty, who passed away while I was compiling this list: “I gave it all that I had,” she is often quoted as saying, “and it’s gratifying that others seem to be receiving it so well.”
(Except as noted, all quotes acquired from BrainyQuotes, GoodReads, AZ Quotes, and IMDB.)