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Saturday, February 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 1.0° F  Fair
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In Memoriam, 2007
Fare thee well Jeff Erlanger, Nathan Heffernan, Hortense Sperling, Dimetra Shivers and Otto Festge

Jeff Erlanger: A lifelong quadriplegic who gained fame from an appearance on "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" when he was 10 and a few years ago helped save a woman who confided to him online that she'd just cut her wrists, Erlanger set out to change the things he could, advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. He did it in such a way that the city created a "Civility in Public Discourse" award in his honor. Erlanger was 36 when he died on June 10.

Nathan Heffernan: The former chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court died in April at age 86. He served more than three decades on the court, then went on to be a champion of campaign-finance reform. "I do feel the only excuse for government is to improve the lot of citizens," he once said. "If that's liberalism, I'm for it."

Hortense Sperling: Believed to be the oldest person in Dane County, perhaps the state, this Verona resident died in October at age 108. She remained active till the end, and was planning to celebrate her 109th in November at the Nitty Gritty.

Dimetra Shivers: A well-known singer once dubbed Madison's "First Lady of Jazz," Shivers was a founding member of the local NAACP. Her son Michael, a former alderperson, remembered her as a "feisty, involved, meddling, honest, hard-hitting person, who was especially passionate about civil rights." She died in her sleep on Sept. 17 at age 95.

Otto Festge: He served seven terms as Dane County clerk, two as Madison's mayor, and headed U.S. Rep. Bob Kastenmeier's home office for 16 years. "On a scale of one to 10," said former Mayor Paul Soglin, one of the many beneficiaries of Festge's kindness, "he worked at 10, but in self-importance, he was a point-one." What a nice way to be remembered. Festge died on Nov. 4 at age 86.

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