Grace's Legacy

My Lady ...

The love you have expressed for Grace, on so many occasions, says so much about you as a human being. Warm, compassionate, loving... a heart full of kindness towards others. But it also says a lot about Grace. She truly must have been a remarkable creature to have touched you so deeply and in so many wonderful ways.

The love she stirred inside you has not gone un-noticed by your friends. Nor by those of us on the outside looking in. We can only hope to one day share the incredible strength of the bond you had between you. And although Grace has passed, her love has not. It continues always, even when you think it is no longer there.

Shine a flashlight into the sky at night my Lady and you will see the beam of light traveling upwards to the heavens. Now shut the flashlight off. You have stopped the source of the light but you have not stopped the light already created. And even though you cannot see it, it is there, moving forever onwards and up into the starry blanket above your head. For, once created, light can never be destroyed.

Such is the light of love, no matter who, or what, creates it.

Once born it flows forever...

Smile Alana—you gave Grace unconditional love and she in turn gave it back to you. It's a beautiful thing you two created and it will never die.

Your friend

Neil

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Alan Hustak
The Montreal Gazette, July 19, 2003

Neil Zach was a Main Street kind of guy, a genial small town boy who, it seemed, knew everyone in the Lower Laurentians and who often was there for others when his services were needed. Zach was the ebullient managing editor of Main Street, the monthly newspaper that serves the English-speaking community in places like Lachute, Morin Heights, and Ste-Adele. He died of blood clot in his lungs on June 3rd; two years after a diabetic coma robbed him of the ability to speak.

"He was a real character, one of a kind, with a great heart. He was an idealist who supplied the energy that turned the paper into a wide open forum," Main Street's owner and publisher Jack Burger told The Gazette. "He was a big bear of a man in many ways, a master of many personas and voices. He had a wonderful sense of humour which ranged from the sophisticated to, as base as you could get. As a comedian, he had a great sense of timing."

A standing room crowd filled St. Simeon's Anglican Church in Lachute and spilled through the doors into the street for the funeral last Saturday. The service was held one month after Zach died to allow his sister to complete a wilderness excursion through Alaska and Yukon.

Neil Sack was the eldest in a family of three siblings. He was born in Montreal on July 17, 1953 and raised in St. Andrews East, Quebec on the Quebec-Ontario border. His father was an engineer with General-Electric and owned a fairly successful boat building business.

Even as a child, Neil had a way with words. When he was 13 he started his own newspaper, the Pygmy Times. As student at Laurentian Regional High School, he was a founding editor of the school paper, The Torch. Rather than read the books that he was assigned in English class, he invented fictitious authors and critiqued the imaginary works. He was so good at it he might have pulled it off, but one suspicious teacher insisted on seeing a copy of a book he had so enthusiastically reviewed.

He studied journalism at Dawson College and in 1978 married his high school sweetheart, Jayne Gillies. They had hitchhiked to Edmonton to start a new life, but the marriage didn't last and in 1983 Sack returned to Quebec. He worked, as a bartender at The Commons in Morin Heights, was the lead male vocalist in a group called Molly Magnum and The Blue Hills Band, and he managed a men’s over-35 baseball team, the Kirmar Chiefs. He legally changed his name to Zach—the stories as to why he did it vary. He wrote songs, tinkered with poetry and was a master satirist. He also championed the rights of Quebec's anglophone community without alienating any of his nationalist French-speaking friends, and he had many.

In 1994 he joined Perspectives, a bilingual paper that Burger had started which later morphed into Main Street. "He was always interested in what people were talking about. He was always interested in human-interest stories," said Karin Blundell, a friend from Ste. Adele. "His editorials demonstrated a grasp of broad interests, or people, human rights, world affairs and the English speaking community in the Laurentians. He did a fine job of editing and writing, he took a great deal of pleasure in what he did."

Two years ago Zach went into a diabetic coma, and had a tracheotomy which left him unable to speak. That didn't stop him from writing. He continued to communicate by e-mail and never stopped editing the 24-page paper. He died with his note pad still open, the way a journalist wants to go, hours after doing an interview in Montreal with an Alouette's official, Mark Weightman.

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