Few communities have even one citizen as useful as Mary Frey Eaton, who died at 91 after having compiled a remarkable history of civic and political leadership in Baton Rouge.

There has been much appreciation for her role as a stabilizing force on the Metro Council during three terms, ending as chairwoman before her formal political retirement in 2000. But that recollection understates the power of her positive force in the community.

She saw public office as a service but over a long life — her late husband was a state senator — and she also understood that few things happen in government or civic life automatically. Rather, it is the coalitions of the willing who create advances in government, just as much as in her work for the arts, children’s charities and many other realms in Baton Rouge.

We might not see her like again, but her example ought to inspire new generations to make a difference in their communities.