It has been a difficult week for my friends in the Prosser wine community. Two of the beloved winemakers in the area have passed away in the last few days. I consider many in this community to be extended family, and my heart goes out to the people of the area. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know Mike Wallace, but I know that he was very dear to the community of Prosser. I did, however, have the chance to get to know Pontin Del Roza Winery owner/winemaker, Scott Pontin, and I personally share in the grief at his passing.
I’ve always held the belief that one of the most valuable things that a person can posses is a good reputation. Having the respect and love of our fellow humans is a sign of a life that was lived well. The value of a man is not measured in dollars or position, it is measured in the number of people who will miss him when we is gone. By that measure, Scott Pontin was one valuable guy.
I have a strong connection to the city of Prosser, even though I only spend a relatively short amount of time there. I met a number of amazing people, and got to spend time with a number of them. Many of the people who I met made me feel like a member of the community from day one. Though I didn’t get to know him as well as many of the people that I have seen eulogizing him on Facebook over the last couple of days, I always found Scott to be welcoming and kind to me. I wish that I had taken the opportunity to let him know how much the occasional interactions that I had with him had made me feel at home in Prosser.
Scott was one of those people whose smile and laugh could brighten any room. He was opinionated, but in a way that was honest and lacked any malicious intent. You always knew where things stood with Scott. His kind heart extended to man and to beast. An article that was published yesterday in the Tri-City Herald quoted April Reddout, wine program director for the Clore Center, as saying, “He would have adopted every stray animal in Prosser if he could have.” He was a strong advocate for Prosser’s wine community, playing an active role in the development of the industry. He was passionate about the development of the The Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, having been involved in the project from the very beginning. Because of the work of Scott and others involved in the project, Prosser is home to this awesome resource for wine education and appreciation, appropriately named after “the father of Washington wine.”
Reading the stream of comments on Facebook that expressed the love and admiration that so many people felt for Scott got me to thinking about the impact that we can have on the world around us, even in our small interactions with one another. Scott left a legacy that will continue to exist in his absence. Obviously, the Walter Clore Center is a physical legacy that he is very much a part of, but I mean a legacy that grew from the personal interactions that he had with others. That legacy is strongest with those who were close friends, but it extends to people like me, people who just had the good fortune to get to know him a little bit, and whose paths crossed with his from time to time. Seeing the impact that he had on his community inspires me to reach out to my own community and work to better the lives of those around me. If, when I have finished my life on this earth, I have achieved a fraction of the love and respect that Scott inspired with his life, I will consider it a life well spent.