Honor Your “Helen”s

Last night, I got a text that shook me in a way I never expected from my friend Ian.

It said simply, “‘Have an excellent’ lady died :(“

For those who went to the University of Rhode Island, news of the death of Helen “Nonni” Plummer probably felt like losing a member of our own family. Easily the most popular employee of the URI Emporium CVS, she is most famous for her sign-off as she handed you your receipt, “Have a excellent.” No, I didn’t leave anything off. That’s just what she always said. When asked about her unique phrase in the Good 5 Cent Cigar, our campus paper, she said:

“It’s intended to be whatever they want it to be. It can be an excellent life, an excellent day … This is what it boils down to. That’s where the ‘day’ went.”

I also want to note that my other favorite tidbit from Nonni was when she offered to double bag your items if you were going down URI’s famously perilous hill. I always took the option, and escaped grocery-based disaster as a result. Thanks Nonni.

Helen was a big part of all of our lives. When Facebook fan clubs were all the rage (circa 2006, I want to say?) she got her own, which presently stands at over 2100 likes. Offices on our campus shoud wish for that sort of popularity! And as news of her passing spread among my friends, the true impact of our interactions with her could be seen.

My friend Amy with Nonni and Amy's URI promotional cutout in CVS.

My friend Amy with Nonni and Amy’s URI promotional cutout in CVS.

IMAGE CREDIT: URI Memes

My friend Tiff's tribute to Nonni in her profile picture this morning.

My friend Tiff’s tribute to Nonni in her profile picture this morning.

Too often, when people in this sort of capacity pass, we’re regretful because we never got a chance to tell them what they meant to us. But it makes me feel better to know that she was well aware of how integral of a role she played on our campus. She was invited to judge Greek Week competitions in 2006. She was interviewed, as I mentioned, by our campus paper so students could learn more about her. And when the store ran a promotion to sell overstocked candy, she was able to give her grandchildren a new TV because of the countless purchases made in her name. Now that she’s gone, she’ll likely survive through the stories that alum tell their friends, siblings, and younger students.

My advice to you? Everyone has someone like this on their campus. That person who’s so much a part of the campus community simply because of how he or she makes those around them feel. Honor these people. Let them know what they mean to you and to the community. When they’re gone, you don’t want to regret never having told them. Make sure they’re having an excellent each day they’re here.

nonni fb status

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