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  • “Everything went from bad to worse, money never changed a thing,
    Death kept followin', trackin' us down, at least I heard your bluebird sing.
    Now somebody's got to show their hand, time is an enemy,
    I know you're long gone,
    I guess it must be up to me.

    If I'd a thought about it I never would've done it, I guess I would've let it slide,
    If I'd a paid attention to what others were thinkin', the heart inside me would've died.
    I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity,
    Someone had to reach for the risin' star,
    I guess it was up to me.”

    Bob Dylan, from “Up to Me”

    As soon as I saw the e-mail was from Patsy this morning, I thought, “Oh, no, this can’t be good news.” I was right, it wasn’t. Another dear friend and colleague left us yesterday, and my head is just spinning a bit, today. This is the third one in about 3 weeks, all close to my age, all folks I worked closely with at some point, over a number of years.

    I knew Bob was putting up the good fight, and I knew from the last couple of posts by his beloved wife, Patsy, he was “on the downhill slide”, as Mom had called it. So, the news did not come as a surprise or a shock. But, it still washed over and right through me. Another good one is gone. Another person who left a significant imprint on me.

    Bob surely was one of the good ones. He was an original…they broke the mold after they made this guy. In a lot of ways, he was an old-school kind of guy. He had rough edges, and called things the way he saw them. He was not real “PC” (politically correct), and at times in his career, his frankness and plain-spokenness probably did not help his career-advancement opportunities. But, you always knew where Bob was coming from. You knew exactly where he stood. I really can’t think of too many other people I’ve encountered in 28 + years with this agency for whom I had more respect, or who I trusted as explicitly as I did Bob. This was another way in which he was a throwback – you could take his “word” to the bank. A handshake from Bob was better than a signature, every time.

    At some point along the line, between the time I’d first met him at the Career Development Academy in Williamsburg in ’93, and when I was elected to the same Board he was serving on in ’05, he’d been born again. He and Patsy were deeply devout and devoted Christians. Some folks I’ve known, when they’ve had this experience and on after, have become really obnoxious to be around. You hear things like, “do this or you’ll burn in hell”, or you can just tell that they are pitying your sorry, unsaved ass. I never got that sense from Bob, or from Patsy. They just embraced their faith, and they remained steadfast in it throughout Bob’s struggle. They didn’t put on airs or rub anyone else’s face in it. It was simply what they believed, and they were matter of fact about it, no more nor less. But, they really glowed with their devotion. It was papable.

    Bob and I really bonded over some of the work, and the issues, that we grappled with together on this Board. We got to know each other well, and the more we worked together, the stronger our mutual respect became. He was just one of those people who brought out a higher level of excellence in those around him, because he demanded the same from himself. Knowing him made me a better person. Knowing how highly he thought of me was an especial honor, as far as I was concerned.

    He and Patsy were always asking after Jonathon and really had an interest in how he was doing. They’d met him when he was 3, when he and Kathy had joined me at the Career Development Academy in Baltimore, and he had apparently really left an impression on them. They were also big theater buffs, and knew Jonathon was into the theater. They would listen attentively and just be so thrilled when I would report his stage exploits and successes.

    I was really struck by how rock solid Bob and Patsy’s faith remained, right to the end, and how it helped them navigate the troubled waters of Bob’s dying. I’m really going to miss the man, and will take some time to get used to the idea that we’ll never have one of our chats, again.

    I accept that it is part of the life cycle, but man, death just really sucks. I'm really hoping the death parade around me slows down a bit, soon. I'm gettting so tired of it.
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