We’ve seen thousands of sad stories in our time, but the case of a man found in his DeSoto, Texas, apartment three years after his death ranks right up there as one of the saddest.
Ronald Wayne White, believed to be a Navy vet working as a defense contractor, was last in contact with his mother in New York three years ago. He apparently moved several times and traveled extensively, so several police departments told his family they couldn’t treat him as a missing person, his family said.
His body was recently discovered on the floor of his apartment when workers were investigating why some tenants weren’t using water. Stunningly, the medical examiner ruled he had been dead three years.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about this case. But what we do know is that a man who lived his life in this community apparently went missing for three years and no one noticed he was gone.
It’s disheartening that society has reached such a threshold of disconnection that he could have no friend, no co-worker, no acquaintance to even check to see if he was alive or dead. His rent was automatically deducted from his bank account, police said. His car covered in dust was parked in the garage. Authorities don’t suspect foul play.
This case reminds us that there are thousands of people among us who are in severe states of loneliness and isolation. There are reams of research that make us tune into this as the holidays approach. The reality is that loneliness profoundly grips many of us throughout the year.
White’s case drives home the importance of making real connections. There should be people in our lives who can and will reach out to at least check on our well-being or at least notice when something might seem odd.
We’re more connected through social media than ever before. Experts point out that we’re processing so much information we’re receiving in all directions, that we’re losing our ability to think and feel. It’s hurting our personal connections and making us more distant and lonely. And the loneliness can negatively affect our health.
White’s mother, Doris Stevens, told a TV station that her son was diabetic. He would have been 51 when he died.
Let’s vow to actually pick up the phone to talk to or actually go visit someone we know instead of spending so much time on social media. Let’s make eye contact and be mindful of other people. Let’s do things with other people, be it attending religious services or going to a ballgame. We need to take better care of ourselves and our neighbors.
No one should have to die the way Ronald Wayne White did, unnoticed and all but forgotten.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS