There are certain people in this world who have the rare ability to put a smile on your face, regardless of the situation. Maralee Johnson was one of them.
Her leadership at the Illinois Beef Association made it feel less like an association and more like a family. This was fitting, since most Illinois cattlemen would probably agree it's less of a business endeavor and more of a family affair. One of my favorite days on the job was serving up "beef sundaes" at the Illinois Beef Expo with Maralee, Penny, Cimeron and Linda.
It’s hard to believe Maralee is actually gone. I just saw her last November at the Commodity Conference in Bloomington. Walking outside, I saw her on the phone by the entrance. I wanted to catch up with her, because it had been a while since we talked. I sort of lurked outside of earshot until she finished her conversation. I'm so glad I did. It was the last time I talked to her. As always, she put a smile on my face and we had a few laughs.
Fortunately, the aftermath of a fatal illness is more difficult for those of us left on earth. I rejoice knowing Maralee is in a better place now. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family.
One day family, friends and colleagues will be reunited with this terrific lady. Until then, try to find the time to enjoy what you’re doing. Maralee would have.