By J. STEVEN DILLON

People who take the time to write letters to the editor and send them to The Courier are a special breed, indeed. Not just anyone will type or pen a letter and sign their name to it, knowing it will likely be published.

As the gatekeeper of the letters that appear on the Viewpoint page under Readers’ Views, I tend to get attached to those who write. Although I have not personally met most of those who write, I get to know them through the words they write and the opinions they express via email or through the mail.

I never had an occasion to meet Barbara J. Rice, of Fostoria, who passed away Dec. 22, but I still felt like I knew her fairly well. She wrote to the newspaper regularly over the past several decades, but had to slow down earlier this year, she told me, due to her health.

Her last letter appeared on this page in March. The headline was: “God will have a wall, too.”

Sometimes other writers would be critical of Rice’s letters or question her opinions, but her point of view came from the heart and appeared to be well thought out and researched.

She was religious and her faith was expressed in her words. She wrote on a wide variety of topics: government, politics, Blanchard River flooding. She liked Trump, at least most of the time, and was unwaveringly against abortion, and she sometimes challenged those who felt otherwise on those subjects.

Rice was a poet, as well, and her prose was featured in Poetry Corner. Sometimes she’d submit a poem or article just because she said she thought I might find them interesting. I usually did.

I will miss “hearing” from Barbara, like I do Loren Pace, and other regular letter writers who have passed. It’s not because I always agreed with what they wrote — I usually didn’t — but because they took the time to write and then shared it with our readers.

Writing a letter to the editor can require exposing your inner thoughts to the world. A letter bares oneself to everyone who reads it. It’s not the same as posting a comment on social media. Because The Courier, like most newspapers, requires a signature, it’s more credible.

Letters, regardless of the message, are a reflection of different points of view within our community. They can point out the good, the bad and the ugly, and give us something to think about in the process. Well-written letters can reform others’ opinions.

Viewpoint needs more voices these days, not less. We need more Barbara Rices, Loren Paces, Jim Brants, Tom Murphys, Jake Lairds, Don Iliffs, and Ralph Andersons to give us a little food for thought even if the message is sometimes hard to stomach.

So if you’re a letter writer, please keep writing and if you’ve only thought about it, give it a try. The rules are pretty basic. Write about a public issue and do it in 350 words or less. Oh, there’s a two-letter-per-month limit.

Everyone has an opinion about something. Letters can present an opposing view to another letter or even a Courier’s View editorial, or syndicated column.

We welcome your critique of anything that appears on this page. The Readers’ Views are the most important part of the Viewpoint page. Without letters, the community loses an important voice.

We’re grateful for those who wrote in 2018, and hope even more readers make the effort in 2019. RIP Barbara Rice. Thanks for sharing your opinions with us.

Contact Dillon at Send an E-mail to Steve Dillon or at 419-427-8423

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