Paul Wellstone was a good guy, a throwback, a left wing Mr. Smith in Washington. He didn't take political disputes personally, but he took political ideas seriously and that made him special.

Paul possessed a perky fire that people noticed the instant they met him which is why so many recall their first encounters with the man. For me, it happened one Sunday, when he bounded into the studio, smiling broadly, ready and eager for intellectual combat. He didn't retreat to a corner, whispering furtively with aides. He didn't put on a game face. Instead, he walked all around the place saying, "Hi. I'm Paul." He loved trying to convert his foes or, if that failed, wrestling them into submission.

Typical: His tenacity thrilled friends and exasperated opponents.

Few people in this, or any town, could match his stamina or work ethic. The standard remembrance of Paul includes a line like, "even if you disagreed with him," but that formulation, trite already, misses his magic. Of course people disagreed with him. He was a politician. The controversies that occupied his attention will fade quickly from memory. But he won't.

Paul Wellstone was a good, truly good, human being, whose personality and example will outlive his causes.

We weep missing him, and we smile remembering him, and we count our blessings that we were lucky enough to know him.