Note: Colleagues and friends who would like to celebrate Richard’s life and positive impacts are invited to join us Thursday, February 11, 2016 at the American Legion in Vienna, VA. Details here.
Last week was a really good week. I had my first trip to Anchorage, Alaska where I collaborated with my good friend Michael Anderson and his organization to bring training to a host of companies based in Alaska. It was a wonderful experience and a pivotal one for me as I gained a level of appreciation for just how unique the people of Alaska really are, as are many of the challenges they face in the business world.
It’s the kind of experience I planned to share with my friend Richard Dean who retired not too long ago, for the second time. His first retirement was from the U.S Army and this retirement was from government contracting where Richard is known as a kind person and a generous and very knowledgeable colleague. He would be proud of the journey I experienced both professionally and spiritually, because I am a different person than I was last Monday. Unfortunately, some of the change has nothing to do with what happened in Alaska, but what happened in North Carolina, where Richard and his wife were living. Last Thursday, even before I knew about it, a hole in my heart had formed because Richard’s service to God was completed here and he was called home.
I believe in God and for that reason I believe there is a purpose to everything that happens whether I understand it or not. At some point, not now, I will come to terms with that, but right now, it stinks.
Did you know Richard? Ever experienced one of his Toastmaster Grand Royale Deluxe elevator pitches? No? You don’t know what you missed. Maybe I have a recording of it somewhere. Richard would not be happy about that and he would probably invoke one of the nicknames we had for each other, specifically one that let me know I was in deep doo-doo, sort of like when your mother called you by your COMPLETE name.
Speaking of nicknames, every once in a while I called him ‘Top’ because he attained the rank of First Sergeant during his service in the Army. This was usually in response to my being lectured about something where we was helping me realize a different approach or perspective. He was good at that and I needed it. He would share snippets of adventures he had while serving abroad and used to tell me how different he was in those days and that I was seeing a better man.
It’s hard for me to believe he wasn’t always a better man.
We would call each other ‘RD’ and ‘GT’ in messages and ‘frick and frack’ in conversations with other
friends when we wanted to rib each other. Boy, did we ever rib each other. Sort of like brothers, which is how we most often how we referred to one another. ‘Brothers from another mother!’ is what we would tell everyone. Even his wonderful wife Doerte tolerated our brotherly quips and shenanigans.
Richard is smiling right now because I just used the word ‘shenanigans’ in reference to us and in proper context. Did I mention we were brothers? He evenhad the same birthday as my biological brother.
Five years ago when my daughter was six months old, I experienced a severe medical issue that knocked me out of commission, leaving my wonderful wife to care for me, our daughter and The American Small Business Coalition. I don’t know how she did it. Actually, I do. By all rights, our company should not exist after that episode because there was no one to staff it, no revenues coming in, etc. But that didn’t happen. Richard and several other members stepped up to keep things afloat during that time. For that, Maggie and I are eternally grateful.
That’s what I learned to expect from him. He was always there so many times for whatever reasons, he was there.
He’s still there, just not where I can give him a hug. But I can still tell my brother how much I love him, and I will.