Follow Natalie on Twitter

Aimee England, a vol­unteer, political activist, and dear friend to many in the Hillsdale com­munity, passed away Tuesday morning of surgery com­pli­ca­tions.

“She lived her life in capital letters,” Benita DeRose of Domestic Harmony said of England. The Col­legian inter­viewed England on Oct. 21 for a profile that was intended to run in the Nov. 6 issue.

England worked part time at Domestic Harmony and at RAND doing field tracking and census studies in Jackson County. She also ran Hillsdale Com­munity News, a Facebook page and news outlet where she posted stories and pic­tures about local events and 24/7 updates on what was hap­pening in Hillsdale.

“I just love it here,” England said. “A lot of people don’t, but I don’t have another home because my family moved. Friends become our chosen family – that’s how I feel about life.”

England said she moved to Hillsdale when she was 18 years old with her best friend, and quickly found work at Volume One Book Store, where she worked for 22 years. She soon began vol­un­teering at Domestic Harmony and, in 1987, started attending city council meetings.

“I wanted to be aware and know what’s going on,” England said. “To see the inter­per­sonal dynamics and the body lan­guage. You can learn a lot from that.”

England ran for city council and city clerk, and although she lost those races, said she prefered it that way.

“I can be myself,” England said. “If you are elected there are things you can’t say, and I don’t like that.”

Jeff King, a good friend of England, said they were political friends.

“She had the rare quality that you could dis­agree with her on political issues and still be her friend,” King said. “In fact, we were better friends because of it.”

He knew England since 2003 and said she believed in liberty issues. He affec­tion­ately referred to her as the oracle of Hillsdale.

“She kept the city council on their toes and that will be missed,” King said.

England said that one of her favorite parts of a small city like Hillsdale is that everybody knows your name.

“I like knowing everybody and pulling together for friends in need,” England said. “It’s like our motto, ‘It’s the people.’ And there’s good and bad to that, but there’s more good for the most part.”

She and King worked together for the addition of free internet in the town center. She con­sidered it one of her favorite accom­plish­ments, along with her suc­cessful petition to keep Monroe Street a two-way road.

She said every time she drove down the road, she thought about how it was her ini­tiative that kept the city council from making that road a one-way street again after a con­struction project allowed it to be a two-way thor­oughfare.

One of her favorite events in Hillsdale was the Fourth of July parade, which she and her best friend Julie Games ran for the past seven years. Last year, it attracted more than 3,000 people.

Games said she woke up early yes­terday morning and spent time reading the kind words so many friends posted on England’s facebook wall.

“One person said that anytime they look at the sky they will think of Aimee taking pic­tures from heaven,” Games said.

England said she parted ways with Volume One books about six years ago and her whole world changed. At first she didn’t know what to do, but she went to a flea market and found a $50 DLSR camera. So she started attending events and taking pic­tures, and even­tually created the Hillsdale Com­munity News.

The camera died three years later and England attributed it to how many pic­tures she took.

“She just loved life. She was a pas­sionate person and a pillar of the com­munity,” Games said.

She said she will miss their adven­tures. She said they were both spon­ta­neous people who would just call each other up and decide to go to an antique store at a moment’s notice.

DeRose knew England for nearly 30 years and met her at Volume One book­store. For over 25 years, England was one of DeRose’s valued backup vol­un­teers who was always willing to come in after work to help out. Three years ago, England began working as the vol­unteer orga­nizer.

“She was great at social skills. She had the ability to com­mu­nicate and make everyone feel com­fortable,” DeRose said. “She’s a really happy person who lit up the room. Every­thing was dif­ferent when Aimee arrived.”

DeRose said she was Hillsdale’s unof­ficial ambas­sador and everyone will miss that.

She added that England would be honored to have a news story about her.

“She wasn’t a really private person, and she was a news reporter first and foremost,” DeRose said. “This is exactly the way she would have wanted it to be.”

Gaines said she doesn’t think England got the respect she deserved.

“She worked hard and did so much for the com­munity,” Games said.

England left her Col­legian interview talking about how much she loves the fall in Hillsdale and how beau­tiful the fall colors are this year.

“I hear all these people saying they are going up north. Why go up north? I don’t under­stand that. It’s beau­tiful right here.”

And right here, beneath the reds and oranges of fall, England said her final goodbye to Hillsdale.

“She didn’t plan really well for tomorrow,” DeRose said. “She lived in the moment very fully.”

Follow Natalie on Twitter