I can't speak to Roger Ebert much as a person, because I knew him only through his work in film criticism. I remember fondly my time spent watching him on television, sitting on the couch with my mother, yelling at him and Siskel about movies that we hadn't even seen. Our screams of "C'mon, Ebert!" could be heard around the house, usually followed by fits of laughter.
Roger Ebert taught me how to talk about movies in the same way that authors like Bill Peet and Kurt Vonnegut taught me how to write. He contained in him that same crotchety, articulate, anger-inducing, and brilliant spirit that I tend to gravitate towards. His vocabulary was extensive, yet he had the ability to cut a film down with so few words. He seemed to invite discourse and dissent, even as his thumbs made him into a kind of Roman Emperor, condemning a film to death or letting it live another day.
Again, I didn't know him personally, but I feel an incredible connection with him, after inviting him into my home and having him invite me into his mind for so many years. He was a brilliant writer who ignited debate and formed the way we experience film. He will be missed.