Madison activist, food critic and distinguished social provocateur Lea Zeldin died April 2, 2009. John Nichols wrote a thoughtful [http://www.madison.com/tct/mad/topstories/445634|obituary] for Lea. He knew her well. And I'm sure he, like many, many other Madisonians are feeling her loss.
I met Lea not long after moving to Madison. A woman of integrity and courage, I learned a lot from her. I haven't personally known many women as outspoken as Lea nor have I had known many elders as tirelessly committed to peace and justice. Sure, there were times when she drove you absolutely nuts, wasting your time. But the contrarian in me secretly loved her for it, and I more than once ended up questioning whether it really had been time wasted.
I will remember Lea for her energy to go out and report a story well into her late-70s. Although she never quite mastered the use of the iRiver for recording, she certainly tried to get it right. I'll remember her making risotto and telling stories of Italy. I'll remember her at the socialist potlucks, on-air at WORT and hanging around wherever there was free food. I'll remember her lending me a travel book on Tunisia and Libya, and since she'd visited both, she had recommendations on where to go. I'll remember her challenging me on my ideas about privilege. And so much more.
Thanks, Lea, for walking this earth, working to make it a better place and inspiring us with your dedication.