This editorial by Bob Gaydos, the longtime and now retired editorial page editor of the Times Herald-Record, is a terrific tribute to Levine and layered with photos of him over the years. You can really see how he changed!
Here is a terrific photo gallery of Levine in various settings.
Times Herald-Record columnist and reporter Steve Israel wrote the news story about Levine's death. He also recalled the life lessons Levine conveyed and the last time he saw Levine, he was cradling a newborn.
In a touching tribute, Levine's former assistant, Taryn Clark, recalled how her duties included making sure he was "fed and watered and free of debris."
Reporter and columnist Oliver Mackson wrote this column in which he said, "Mike Levine was one of the few people on this earth who genuinely deserved to be called great."
Reporter and columnist Jeremiah Horrigan said words like "journalist" and "writer" did not fully capture Levine's essence. He was truly a newspaperman.
Barry Lewis, columnist and now executive editor the Times Herald-Record, recounted the ways Levine encouraged him to write a column and how the two shared a Borscht Belt sense of humor.
After learning of Levine's death, local blogger Tom Degan said the community had lost a "regional treasure." Read his tribute here.
A four-minute video of testimonials at Levine's funeral will give you a sense of the person he was, what he stood for and how he was cherished by others.
A benediction by Rabbi Garry Loeb:
Words. How they are used and abused! Words of love and praise, of encouragement and wondrous power! And yet, how easily they can be twisted and bent, torn from context and intent. Made ugly and hurtful.
Those of us who study the words of ancient texts see how they grow and change over time. Sometimes meaning something very different as the centuries go by.
Interpreted differently, understood in a new way... The words aren’t frozen as ink on parchment or paper...they are alive!
Perhaps it’s because of this that we so venerate words and celebrate the creative spark that drives human beings to seek to describe our world and our lives.
Mike Levine loved words. And he was good with them – as the foregoing collection makes manifestly clear!
But not just words for their own sake: Mike loved words for what they could do!
Like the ancient prophets of Israel, he used words to tell the stories of people’s lives.
To heal the tears in a community. To call for justice. To accuse the corrupt. To speak for the voiceless, the wordless. To celebrate wonder.
There may be many things we leave behind when we die.
Mike has left wonderful legacies! A legacy of love to those who knew him best and whose lives were intertwined with his.
And for most of us, Mike’s legacy is his words and the desire to make words that matter.
How we miss him...and how grateful we are to be able to have him with us again, through his words!
I think it only fitting that the last words, rich with the images of his beloved Jewish tradition, should be Mike’s:
“We all have worth beyond our economic usefulness. Who says so? That’s when I call on a God with no name and no face and no promise of heaven. Who is rooting for us. Who is One with all we are. Who is as complex as Life, Who respects the laws of nature and science and Who has left us all with a spark of the divine. And that spark connects us one to the other, compels us to repair the world, to join the sparks so it becomes an eternal light.”