I am a firm believer that one person can change the world. It may involve a series of lucky accidents or it may be something that just falls in your lap or it may be something you work very hard for. But the common theme of people who change the world for the better is that they all have love and passion for what they do.
Today, someone who (in my opinion) has changed the world in numerable ways has passed away.
Not many of you know his name. But many of you have been touched by what he gave to the world.
On Sesame Street Jerry Nelson taught thousands (millions?) children for over 30 years the basic function of counting as Count Von Count. As Henry Monester he taught kids that looks can be misleading and what matters are your motivations and what is in your heart.
Jerry Nelson taught the world to be hip as he brought to life the original hipster, Sgt. Flyod Pepper. Jerry showed the world his tender and childlike side by bringing to life the character of Kermit's nephew Robin where he showed that no matter how small a person is they still have something important to give the world. And who can forget how we taught the world to be whimsical and to throw fish as Lew Zealand, the boomerang fish thrower.
In Fraggle Rock, Mr. Nelson brought to life one of his most well rounded characters, Gobo. Through Gobo, Mr. Nelson taught the world to explore and to not be scared of what is around us even if we don't understand it.
Jerry also had one of the best singing voices I have ever heard.
And that's just the cliff notes version of his life.
When I was a young child I quickly absorbed all that I could about who was under the Muppet characters. There was never a traumatic moment where I found out that they where puppets. I always knew. Jerry Nelsons name has been in my head since at least the time I was five. When I was younger than that I would drive my mother crazy singing along to our Fraggle Rock and Muppet Show cassette tapes in the car. Jerry Nelson has almost always been a part of my life.
When Jerry retired from performing a few years ago, the fan community knew that his health had to be declining. Jerry still kept very active with answering fans on his Twitter and kept such a love of Jim Hensons creations. When I first saw the movie THE MUPPETS last years I had no idea he would be providing the voice of the announcer of the Muppet Telethon. I teared up when I heard his instantly recognizable voice because I knew in the back of my mind that he was not going to be with us much longer and out of how much I respected the filmmakers for including him in the film.
Jerry Nelson may no longer be with the world. His soul is surely up in heaven with Jim Henson, Richard Hunt, his daughter, and Jerry Juhl. But what Jerry Nelson gave the world will never be able to leave. He has given too much to us and his body of work will keep helping kids to count, and people to explore, and us to sing for as long as this civilization stands.
Jerry Nelson changed the world for the better. The world is such a better place thanks to what he has shared with us.
It's going to be realllly hard for me to watch Fraggle Rock, and a lot of other things now. Just like I have trouble watching Golden Girls because 75% of the main cast is gone, Muppet things are adding a sense of sadness for me.