Jack Ronald loved to take pictures of birds.

He often shared those photos with us in the newsroom. I liked teasing Ray Cooney about it, because for a while, it seemed like a regular occurrence for us to publish close-ups of the newest visitor to Jack’s backyard.

It’s been just short of two weeks since his death, but it’s been a lot longer since I have seen one of Jack’s bird pictures. I never thought I’d find myself wishing one more would appear in my inbox.

It’s those little idiosyncrasies we don’t expect to miss that end up sneaking up on us.

Jack had a habit of visiting the office some afternoons. He would stop by to pick up his mail and chat about the news. As I mentioned in an online post recently, each time I heard the door sweep open last week, I nearly expected — hoped — to see his head pop around the divider separating the front office from the newsroom.

It seemed surreal, featuring Jack on the front page April 26. As we edited pages that morning, we kept referring to the story detailing his life achievements as “Jack’s story.”

The context almost fooled me into thinking it was a piece he wrote, not a piece written about him.

That afternoon, like whenever the death of a major community member has occurred, I halfway expected him to stop by the office and share a story about his experience with the deceased.

As Ray said in his column last week, the phrase “Jack Ronald died” seems so final. “And yet, nothing is final. While all of our lives eventually come to an end, we live on in the people’s lives we touched,” he wrote.

I believe those who are no longer with us do have a lingering effect in some shape or form.

Jack retired when I started working for The Commercial Review. Even then, he stayed involved to some extent, writing his column every week along with the occasional front page byline and filling in as a proofreader.

Oh, and the bird pictures. He sent us a bunch of those.

I spent time Saturday with a friend of mine who also adores birds. It had been about a year since I last met with Whitley — she travels around the United States for her career as a biologist. We chatted over lunch and, on a whim, decided to visit Minnetrista in Muncie.

It didn’t dawn on me until we walked inside the Center Building that I had day passes sitting on my desk in the office. Jack — he served on the board of trustees — had given three of them to me a while back. Oh well.

We made our way through the exhibits, then out to The Orchard Shop. Whitley stopped by the field guides and started flipping through one depicting predatory birds. She named birds as their illustrations appeared, page by page, and shared a plethora of additional facts with me on each.

We passed the bereavement section and an array of cardinal-themed items. I pointed to a keychain resembling stained glass that read, “every time you see a cardinal, it’s a visitor from heaven.”

In a city where the vast majority of the population attend a certain university with the bird as its mascot, I reminded her, you’ll see cardinal merchandise about everywhere.

Whitley noted the phrase is ironic, considering cardinals are one of the most common birds around Indiana. Fair enough, I thought, but the sentiment is still nice.

We continued on our way, passing through the parking lot and into the wooded nature path. Whitley identified nearly each living organism as we walked. Virginia Bluebells. Goldfinch. Bloodroot. Swainson’s Thrush.

For each plant, she stooped to examine its leaves. For each bird, she lifted her binoculars to get a closer look. For a few seconds each time, she reminded me of that nature-loving fourth grader I became friends with at Montpelier Elementary School.

I told her I think she would’ve liked Jack.

As we neared the end of the woods, more bird song echoed. Whitley pointed at a tree across the path. A single cardinal sat in its branches, humming its tune for all to hear.

Something told me Jack would’ve liked her too.