INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Whether people met her for a moment, a few days or knew her for a lifetime, Dr. Maya Angelou seemed to have a profound impact on everyone she met.
Here in central Indiana, many people recounted their memories of her Wednesday, after Angelou passed away at the age of 86.
“We’ve been sister friends for as long as I can remember,” said Dr. Mari Evans, a poet who lives in Indianapolis. She says she’s known Angelou for decades, and considers her family.
“It is my great joy to know that yesterday afternoon, we had a conversation and we laughed together. That was so precious, such a wonderful memory,” said Evans.
Evans says she knows she’ll see Angelou again.
“She’s merely made the transition, no surprise to her or to me. We talked yesterday, she made the transition today, I’ll make mine at some point, and we’ll keep laughing,” said Evans.
It seems Angelou left a lasting impression on all those she met.
George Taliaferro introduced her at Indiana University back in 1975.
“There wasn’t a more impressive human being I have ever met in my life,” said Taliaferro. “She had the ability to meet with any group of people and broach any subject with tremendous feeling.”
“It was one of the most impressive contacts, I’ve ever had with a human being, in all the years I’ve been alive,” Taliaferro added.
Angelou’s picture hangs in the Diversity Center at Butler University. Valerie Davidson first met her, when Angelou was their first speaker for their Distinguished Lecture series in 1988. Angelou returned to campus last September to speak.
Just Tuesday night, Davidson found out Angelou wanted to come back again, to take the stage with her friend, Mari Evans.
Davidson said Angelou’s health had been declining, and she was going to start to do satellite interviews instead of heading around in-person, which is another reason Davidson was so honored Angelou wanted to physically come to Butler again this fall.
“It is a loss to the entire global community,” said Davidson. “I feel very, very honored she wanted to come back to Butler, to do this event this fall.”
“I don’t think she ever met a stranger. She made everyone she met feel like the most important person in the world,” she added. “That was part of her charm, part of what had people gravitate toward her: not just her literature, but her spirit. There was just such a genuine nature to her, you could feel the love and compassion she had for humanity.”
Davidson said what she remembers most from Angelou’s visit to Butler in the fall, was that she encouraged everyone in the audience ‘to be the rainbow in someone’s cloud, because you never know how you might be able to touch someone else.’
“She can only be remembered as bigger than life,” said Evans.