Dear Alan Amato,

Today is Easter, and we’re posting your Obituary and GoFundMe page. Sigh. First, about Easter: You were Catholic but didn’t take it too seriously. Our stories of altar boy memories would always end up in uproarious laughter (more because of you than me). You almost burned down the sacristy!

But as I reflect on Easter, I’m struck by my own Grandma who always said things happen in threes. Well my dear friend, two NYC friends/acquaintances died from COVID-19, and then I got the call about your own hospitalization. I worried and wondered, and learned it was your heart.

That Italian heart — the one which led you to so much activism on behalf of so many. The heart that inspired my own activism. The heart that helped shape me in the ways of community organizing — real, true, rambunctious, activism.

Your heart inspired me — but not like Thelma & Louise. You were often both at the same damn time! I was more pragmatic, but you would and did prod me out of my comfort zone — often enough where I had the courage to go places I didn’t think I could go.

Alan, you are now gone. You used up your heart on me and others!

No more chats, Facebook sharing, campaigns to share. And oh did we share campaigns! From the small to the mighty. Federal, state, local, referendums. You were there and I was always nervous — running for myself (or others) like we were all going to lose. You’d take a sip from that drink and say, “Hon, you have to calm down. It’s going to be all right.” And 90 percent of the time you were right.

Finally, when I think of the Tan Travel trip to Paris, I will always remember the day we broke away. No museums. No group photos. No long walks. We plunked down at a cafe a few blocks from the hotel and didn’t move. For over six hours! We drank way too much wine but had the time of our life. I think we solved 1 or 2 world problems that day.

So, thanks for everything you did for me, the community, and so many others. You will be missed. Even though you could aggravate me from time to time, that aggravation led me along the way.

And for that, I can say: Thank you for a life well-lived.

Ray Johnson

Former Oak Park village trustee

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