The late Scott Gummerson was an architect. When he died from acute myeloid leukemia in 2015, his neighbors tied orange ribbons in his honor on trees in front of the Flossmoor houses he designed or helped add on to.
The outpouring of support during the two years Scott was sick didn’t only come from close friends and family, said his wife, Gigi Gummerson. Comfort food and small kindnesses came from neighbors all around town.
“These weren’t good friends of ours. They were acquaintances,” Gummerson said. “But a community is more than just a group of acquaintances; it’s a living thing.”
Scott enjoyed maintaining the couple’s lawn, but his illness prevented him from keeping up with it, Gummerson said. Their neighbor Tom Haggerty took notice, with an expert eye as the owner of Haggerty Landscape in Flossmoor.
“Scott took pride in the lawn. Tom knew this and he knew Scott was really sick,” she said. “Without being asked or anything, Tom started cutting our lawn.”
When Gummerson saw Haggerty out on her lawn, she called his wife, Barb, and asked if someone had hired him to mow the lawn. No, Barb said, “Tom just wanted to do it.” When Scott died two years later, Haggerty again cut the lawn for several weeks.
He never charged Gummerson for any of his work, and the Haggertys even paid for a bagpiper to play at Scott’s funeral to celebrate his Scottish heritage.
“Simple things change our lives, especially when we’ve lost someone,” Gummerson said. “These are incredible people here who go above and beyond without thinking.”
Gummerson said after her husband died she was approached by a reserved neighbor she never talked with much. The woman said years earlier she had fought breast cancer, though none of the neighbors knew. During that time, Scott often came by to snowblow her walkway and, when it was really bad, her driveway, too.
“There were days she’d come out and it would be done, and she would almost cry,” she said. “She told me, ‘I was struggling, but God sent Scotty over to do this.’
“So many people stopped to tell us how much they loved his work, how kind and patient he was. You reap what you sow.”