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The passing of a gentle giant

Published on May 11, 2021

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I didn’t think I’d write about this again this week, but the ex-pat community has lost another one of our best people. Dr. Alan Woods, died this weekend due to health complications (unrelated to Covid).

He was a dentist. He was a minister. He was a teacher. He was a great man.

He trained as a pastor for two years and decided to work with people to resolve conflicts. For those who knew him, you can easily see Alan doing that. He was a gentle giant. He listened before he spoke. And he loved people.

Alan helped set up community health center dentistry programs in both Canada and the US. He took care of people in the Marshall Islands and Ecuador.

We used to have long talks about everything going on in the world. If I recall correctly, I was usually the glass half-empty guy in those discussions, while Alan was quite optimistic of the future. He usually won me over.

I’ll miss his intelligence, his demeanor, his cadence, and the way he listened. He was such an enjoyable conversationalist.

I hesitated to write about Alan this week because I don’t want this column to become some sort of obituary listing. I want it to talk about a lot of things, but not that.

But this week, I was left with no choice, again, because Alan, like Jeff Salz, was one of our best.

Strangely, I found myself a little bit uplifted when I heard he had died due to some medical problems he had. Knowing it had not been Covid-19 made it less painful in a way. It made me feel that Alan—not consciously of course—went out on his own terms. Covid-19 seems to be taking too many people for no reason other than breathing. At least with Alan’s death, it feels like there was more purpose behind it.

That may sound like an odd thing to say, but it is how I feel right now. His loss is big, but I’m comforted in knowing it wasn’t a completely senseless death.

Alan, like Jeff, was one of those people who made friends easily. His demeanor left you at ease and made you want to be his friend (again, Jeff Salz). I will miss him.

We are a community us expats, even if we disagree about a lot of things. We have at our core that unique element that makes us wanderers or explorers. So, when one of us goes, we all feel it. We all lost two good ones over the last 10 days.

I hope next week brings only good news and good things to write about.

No more of this now. All of you, please, stay safe and healthy.

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