Lonnie Dillard
1945 - 2021
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DILLARD, Lonnie Being a person who often jockeyed to have the last word, I am reluctant to stop now. I realize, of course, that obituaries are written most often by friends or family of the departed---or, should one achieve fame, fortune or notoriety---by the media as well. Most obituaries then, either out of respect for the memory of the deceased, or fear of litigation, fall far short of candor. That will not be the case here. I suspect very few of you reading this notice knew me personally. You may merely be scanning today's obituary column out of boredom or morbid curiosity, like I used to do, for names or photos of people you know, have known, or known of. And perhaps mumbling a prayer, silently congratulating yourself, that you are not the one---not yet anyway---who has recently passed away. Whatever the reason for your attention, I hope to make your time worthwhile. Instead of cataloging careers and adventures I have had, honors I received, missteps I made or women I loved (I was blessed to have more than my share of each of these) or bemoaning how much my sparkling wit or wisdom will be missed, I thought it better to share a few of the big lessons I learned during my 75 eventful years on Planet Earth. 1. A mother's unwavering love can turn a very ordinary little boy into an extra-ordinary man, if only in his own mind. 2. Making and keeping friends, like tending a garden, requires attention and effort. Yet doing so yields greater returns than anything else you will ever do. 3. As Buddhists say: Be kind; everyone you meet is traveling a difficult journey. There is no substitute for a good deed; but simply helping a stranger laugh or smile can lighten a load, too. 4. If your word is no good, chances are very good, you are not either. 5. Having money is always better than NOT having money. But beyond basic needs and a few luxuries, money is not a requirement for happiness. Enough really is enough; greed can hollow out the heart, even topple civilizations. 6. Time spent learning---anything---is never time wasted. 7. Waste is a sin. Do not "save things for nice." Not the new guest room towels, the good crystal that will surely chip with everyday use, nor that ridiculously expensive jacket you bought on a lark in Florence. "Nice" may never happen; life is lived now. 8. Travel is dangerous! If you are not careful, you could find yourself questioning whether your culture, country, or religion really does have a monopoly on all the right answers. 9. Happiness is not the result of what does or does not happen to you in your life as much as your attitude about what does or does not happen. It's a decision you make. Every day. They say that it is always better to have ten items on a list than only nine. I say trying to do everything "they" say can snuff out whatever genius you have in you, as well as make you miserable in the process. There is no one more you than you. You do have something unique to offer your piece of the world. Damn convention or the critics. Take a chance! Unfortunately, I did not know all these lessons all my life; some I paid very dearly to learn. Or re-learn. But I do know that if I could live my life over, I would want these as a starter kit. Forrest Church, renowned Unitarian minister, wrote as he was dying that all the big problems in his life could have been handled better or avoided entirely if he had observed only three rules: 1) Be who YOU are 2) Love what YOU have, and 3) Do what YOU can. My greatest regret is that I must now suddenly leave behind the light of my life, my loving beautiful wife and co-adventurer for almost 40 years, Sandi Sain. I call her a "good sport," which is the highest compliment I can pay a person. How incredibly lucky I was to have her in my life. As my life. There are those who cause joy wherever they go. And others, whenever they go. Be the first kind. Lonnie Dillard was born May 7, 1945, and grew up in west Texas. He died at home in Austin on December 18, after learning of a diagnosis of stage four pancreatic cancer on November 11. Lonnie is survived by his loving wife of 35 years, Sandi Sain, and friends too numerous and far-flung to mention. A virtual celebration of Lonnie's life will be scheduled in early Spring 2021. Memorial donations may be made to: Hospice Austin, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, the Trail Foundation of Austin, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (pancan.org/donate), Planned Parenthood, or the charity of your choice

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Published in Austin American-Statesman on Jan. 10, 2021.
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19 entries
January 24, 2021
Sorry that Lonnie left this earth so soon. I hope his wife will publish his writings so that the rest of the world can get some of his very good advice. Or, please send it to me to read. He seemed like an extraordinary man. I like that he was a minister, and I’ve always wanted to know about this new Unitarian Church. Sincerely, M. Shubaily. Mashubaily@gmail.com
Mary Ann Alshubaily
January 22, 2021
May God always bless you Sandi! Thank You God for leading me to this obituary. This is life changing for me. I'm certain that God and Lonnie know what affect this has had upon me. Lonnie obviously had some amazing qualities on earth. What a conversation to have with him in heaven.
John W
January 21, 2021
I didn't know this man but I am thankful to have read this. I wish his family and friends the best in this sad time. I will pray they they get past this. Thank you again from New Jersey for sharing this mans wisdom.
Keith H Ikola
Acquaintance
January 20, 2021
My sincere condolences to Lonnie's wife, Sandi, and to his entire family. Didn't know this great man, came to read his obituary from an article written about him. His last words were very inspiring, heartfelt, true and humorous and wise indeed. Many would have loved to have known him and his family. To Lorin McMurray, it would be nice to share the Lonnie'isms you've collected. Your words were very nice, seems he taught you well. God bless to all.
Tim Ryan
January 19, 2021
I just happened upon this & I am grateful I took the time to read it. Very interesting gentleman & some great life advice. I smiled, I cried. My condolences to his wife & family. Rest In Peace & thanks for leaving these words of wisdom. Very touching.
Heather Russell
January 19, 2021
My deepest sympathies for the family. My daughter, (a young mother of 3) also left us shortly after receiving a stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. I know you must be in such shock, as I still am 6 years later. My heart goes out to you - I love reading what Lonnie had to say. It really helps us see the "big" picture, and focus on what's important in life. Again, I'm sorry.
Gayla Goodman
Acquaintance
January 18, 2021
While I did not Know Lonnie or Sandi, I can tall I sure would have liked him. I very much enjoyed reading his list, if only more people realized these things earlier in life. Thank you for Sharing with us, Lonnie. I can tell the world is already a lesser place without you. Godspeed sir.... May the good lord help assuage the grief of your beloved bride, Sandi....
James Rudolph
Acquaintance
January 18, 2021
Even though I have never met Mr. Dillard, his words struck a chord. I only hope more people read this and realize his writing has great significance. My deepest sympathy for his family in their time of loss.
Jennifer T
January 18, 2021
I never knew the gentleman but read about him on Fox and was compelled to find the complete writing. I’m sure that he will be missed by all that knew Him. What a wonderful message to all who value the material things rather than cherishing God and all those that we love and those the cross us on our journey. My God bless you all in this moment of loss and may his wonderful memories always remain with you.
Tony Ayrado
January 18, 2021
I never knew the gentleman but read about him on Fox and was compelled to find the complete writing. I’m sure that he will be missed by all that knew Him. What a wonderful message to all who value the material things rather than cherishing God and all those that we love and those the cross us on our journey. My God bless you all in this moment of loss and may his wonderful memories always remain with you.
Tony Ayrado
January 18, 2021
Don’t know him but his message touched my heart. God Bless Lonnie
Alan Rowley
Served In Military Together
January 16, 2021
Well said Lonnie. Thanks you so much for sharing. RIP.
Johh Moorman
January 15, 2021
For a few minutes the words and sentiments he shared were so powerful I couldn't help but wish our paths had crossed long before Lonnie departed this world. Please know that his obituary "selfie" captivated me and am very appreciative I took the time to share his wisdom and experiences.
Margie Lincoln
Acquaintance
January 14, 2021
I had the pleasure and honor of working with Lonnie for over a decade and I have a file in my office: titled; Lonnie'isms. That file is full of interesting communications he authored with flair and humor. Lonnie had many gifts and talents that he shared with his associates. Lonnie never missed a teaching opportunity, and many of his teaching moments became life lessons! Lonnie was an excellent leader, a loyal boss and a stimulating colleague.
Sandi- we are so thankful for Lonnie. As well as we know how, we do try to share your grief, although we know we can't completely. I'm convinced in a strange sort of way, that grief is a blessing, because it assures us that there is also love. And without love there would be no life worth living.
Lorin McMurray
Friend
January 13, 2021
Hi Sandi, I don’t know you or Lonnie and I was just looking to see how many deaths were actually COVID deaths when I came across what Lonnie had written. I just wanted to say I am sorry for your loss but happy that you were married to such a wonderful soul who left such a beautiful message for all to read and maybe even help us to live a better life.
Nanci Dallaglio
January 12, 2021
This is heartbreaking news. I've known Lonnie and Sandi for many, many years and every encounter with them resulted in the enjoyment of their keen observations, warm humor, and friendship. My thoughts go out to Sandi and to all of Lonnie's friends. We were lucky to have him in our lives.
David Everett
Friend
January 11, 2021
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Bruce and Nannete Abrams
January 11, 2021
Sandi- I am so sad to hear about Lonnie. He was always such an upbeat guy and I will miss his warm welcomings. I know this has left you with a huge void in your life. Hang onto the many blessings you had with him. Walt & Cheryl
Walt Penn
Friend
January 10, 2021
I've known Lonnie for over twenty years, working together for a time and despite living far apart thereafter, continued to routinely share our musings, travel stories and movie critiques. Eileen and I always enjoyed hearing what Lonnie and Sandi were up to and what part of the globe they had rambled to. He was a terrific and talented (particularly as a writer), yet humble guy who I was proud to call a good friend; I will miss him.
Ken Dubuque
Friend
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