People We Lost in 2016 and Last Words


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We lost a lot of people this year.

  • Space pioneer John Glenn (95)
  • Singers David Bowie (69), Prince (57), Glenn Frey (67)
  • Boxing legend Muhammad Ali (74)
  • Writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel (87)
  • Actors Gene Wilder (83), Florence Henderson (82), Alan Rickman (69), Alan Thicke (69)
  • Former First Lady Nancy Reagan (94)
  • Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (79)
  • PBS Newscaster Gwen Ifill (61)

Plus many more. People you know. People I know.

Just last week, three people died where Kay and I deliver meals, one of them a dear lady to us and her little dog Tiger.

I didn’t get to say final words to any of them.

Or hear their final words.

It’s been three years since one of my favorite authors died: Dallas Willard (77).

His words weren’t to be read lightly or quickly. His words took time to sink in.


Even if you haven’t read Dallas Willard’s books yourself, you’ve likely been influenced by them through someone else who has.

His books on spiritual formation have been some of my favorites: The Divine Conspiracy, Renovation of the Heart, The Spirit of the Disciplines, The Great Omission.

Willard sent a clear and consistent message in all his writings:

  • Our kingdom life has begun now.
  • Be an active disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • Deep soul transformation is possible, if pursued, because Christ is with us.

After a battle with cancer, Willard’s last words were reported to have been, “Thank you.”

What a testimony to a life of worship.

To all those we’ve lost this year, we say, “Thank you.” To them. To God.

“Thank you” are always beautiful words: first, last, and always.


16 Notable People Who Died in 2016, CNN

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Have you lost someone this year, too? Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives

24 thoughts on “People We Lost in 2016 and Last Words

  1. Ruth

    Sounds like a thankful heart to the end. A worthy goal to strive for “in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God,” even in cancer, even in one’s dying hour.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Didn’t realize that Dallas Willard had died. He was the spiritual mentor to Bobby Schuller, whom I watch on ‘Hour Of Power’ whenever I can.

    And Alan Rickman! Can anyone forget his performance as the terrorist Hans Gruber in ‘Die Hard’, the Christmas movie to end all Christmas movies?

    For whom I have lost…there have just been too many in my life, and I don’t talk about that.

    I just hope that my last words are, “Could be worse. I could be slow, soft, and ugly.”

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Well, don’t want to disappoint you, but I haven’t seen the Die Hard movies, so I’ll remember Alan Rickman for his magnificent performances in Harry Potter. 🙂 He played such a complex character.
      Yes, the older we get, the more we know who have left. Praying for all of us that our last words will be gracious ones.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Sherry. It’s always so sobering to look back over a year and see who all died, not only in our own relationships, but worldwide. Reminds us that we’re not meant to be here forever!

  3. Jean Wise

    Does make you stop and think. I wonder what our last words would be? I often am intrigued by the inscriptions on tombstones – imagine leaving something full of wisdom and/or wit for the ages. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, Lisa!

  4. Lesley

    It does seem like we’ve lost a lot of famous people this year. I like the example of Dallas Willard remaining thankful until the end. I’ve heard his name before but never read any of his books so I’ll have to check them out.

  5. Mary Geisen

    Thank you for this look back as we move forward into 2017. There are so many more famous people who died this year but none as special to me as my dad. He grew up in the same era as John Glenn and was also 95 when he passed this August. I miss him dearly but the life lessons he left behind are now a beautiful legacy that I hope to pass on too.

    Merry Christmas, Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I think Christmas is an especially hard time of year when you’ve recently lost someone close to you. 🙁 I remember the first Christmas without either of my parents (2010) as being particularly hard.

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