Between the title and the theme of this message, one might think I am having, or have had, a life-threatening event. Let me assure you I have not. However, I, along with many friends, have seen far too many of our loved ones/friends leave us in these past couple of years. But time inevitably moves on and we all have to understand that we cannot re-capture time passed or lost. So, my message is intended to be both prophetic as well as personal, and is mostly intended to convey how precious time is and to never ever ever take for granted your time on this Earth with loved ones and the people you meet along the way.
There are so many people in our lives that help shape us, guide us, comfort us, and just genuinely become good friends. If you are fortunate, these people have stayed relatively close to you and have played great support roles throughout your life. Unfortunately, for many of us, we get so wrapped up in work or other activities, that these friendships end up drifting away or going by the wayside, not intentionally, but purely due to the “perceived” lack of time and opportunity.
Some of you are far too smart or committed to allow this drift to happen – and I say Well-Done to you folks, I truly envy your commitment, perseverance, and attitude, with a lust for life and community!!! You folks, who make it your passion to stay connected, are exactly what God desired when he created all of us. However, there are people like me, whom have let work, career, activities, get in the way of true friendships and community, and I am a bit ashamed to say that over the years, I have let such a lifestyle win out far more than I should have.
As the years begin to wind down, and the maturity level and desire for community winds up, I find myself trying so desperately to re-engage these past friendships. In many cases I have been successful, but all too sadly, in many cases I have not. So, I have a message to all of you who are reading this – never let time pass you by, it will you know. Regardless of whether you know it, want it, or plan for it, the calendar will pass you buy by natural progression, whether you recognize it’s happening, or not. The very worst feeling in the world is the feeling that time has passed, which you can never reclaim or get back.
I’m going to take this opportunity to recognize some wonderful people throughout my life’s path, to date. It is my hope, that these scenarios perhaps remind you of opportunities in your own lives. God has made us for community, so if these events help spur a thought or reminder for you to reach back out to others or to get more engaged or involved, then I have accomplished the purpose of sharing these stories with you. I hope this helps bring you friendly reminders and/or refreshed relationships!!!
I’m going to start a bit out of sequence, because I want to start with a positive experience. When I was at Rolls-Royce, we built a great team during my 14 years as a Compliance Leader with that company. Over the years, we had a great deal of wonderful teammates, all of which played critical and essential roles. During this time, we recruited two great teammates who would become great friends. Brianna Ebbinghaus-Houghland took a leap of faith to start her entire career over and take an entry level job at Rolls-Royce. Having enough confidence that she would excel, given the opportunity, Brianna quickly rose up the ranks to end up leading a global compliance team. William “Will” Gleason also took a leap of faith and left the comfort of “home” in Arizona to permanently join our team in Indianapolis. Will had been a summer intern with our team the previous year and we went out of our way to try to recruit Will back to a permanent role. Our efforts were not wasted as Will joined our team and in just a couple of years, excelled within our team and greatly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of our business’s tools and processes. Today, I am so happy to call both Brianna and Will close friends and even though we no longer work together, we have stayed connected and constantly support and cheer for each other’s successes.
As I look back, my first remembrance of a friend is David Wall, my next-door neighbor and absolutely great friend – we were as close as friends could be. For the first 5-6 years of my youth, at least what I can remember, David and I spent every moment together; he was such a special friend. We laughed, played, built things, got in trouble, did virtually everything together. Unfortunately, a few years later, David lost his life when a passing car struck him on the side of the road while his father changed the flat tire that had just happened to their car. My friend was gone and I would never get to spend those care free times with him again – I was too young to appreciate this at the time, but I now think this was God’s signal to me to focus on friendship and the present, and to never take it for granted. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the message until many years had passed.
Yes, I lost a dear friend, but what I remember most about this tragedy, was how sorrowful and depressing funerals were in our culture. Instead of the celebration of life and great appreciation of having David in our lives, that jubilation I felt it should be, and what I was expecting, was not present. Instead, this remembrance was far too depressing for me. Yes, it is always a very sad time for all, when a loved one passes, honestly, I know and appreciate this - I’m not heartless. But I think the 5-6 years I spent with David were far happier and more enjoyable than what that funeral portrayed – we should have been celebrating and rejoicing for the time we did have with David.
I also have childhood memories of good Friends Ruby and Edgar Mertz, from that very same small town and time in my life. I worked my first job for them painting a wall on the outside of their shop. I was 5 years old and was told they would pay me $1 per hour. I painted for an hour, got my $1 dollar, and quit with the wall only half painted – BUT I HAD A WHOLE DOLLAR – WOW!!!. Thank goodness that was not a predictor of what type of worker/employee I would become 😊. Later Edgar developed a hobby of racing Formula Ford cars which brought our families together for many years of racing fun and several consecutive Indy 500’s which we attended together.
Junior high was a blur but I did have one great friend Scotty Wagner. Unfortunately, Scotty moved away one year before I moved away and although we stayed in touch for a couple of years after that, we eventually lost touch.
High School was a different story. I was so fortunate to go to school with a ton of great people who would become good friends. I moved to a new town the year I started High School, and I was lost as an only child – no brothers or sisters to lean on, in a totally new surrounding, and just 14 years old living a very sheltered life. The first to befriend me was Bruce Walden and Jim “Satch” Sanders, these two great people would become my very best friends for several years to come. We three had so very much in common as we participated in several sports together and we also were pretty good musicians on one of the states very best dance/jazz bands. I believe Bruce and I still hold a school record for the most varsity letters earned at 16 each while Jim and I both were confirmed together in our church, St. George. Super Super guys who were very good friends to me.
There were so many great friends, that I know I will miss a few. Carolyn Dunigan (Sadler) and Deia Pittman (Fitzpatrick) were also such a dear friends, always smiling, happy, and both had a great sense of humor (Sweet Caroline and Beia, aka Fuzzy). Chris Gill and Wally Bryant were such super guys and good friends. We used to beat the hell out of each other every summer playing basketball in a small garage – it was so much fun. It truly helped me get in shape for the upcoming football seasons. Chris had a horrible car wreck one time that severely injured him-I’m so thankful he came through that ordeal with the same great outlook and smile. Wally was also a great singer – I will never forget his performance of “Age” by Jim Croce – this song has always been a favorite of mine ever since that day Wally first introduced the tune to me. My teammates in sports, in journalism, and in music, were also incredible; in no particular order, Bill Pittman, Bill Snyder, Stan and Jeff Curry, Kevin Cecil, Randy Dover, Jeff Burton, Barry Burton, Ernie Smith, Mike Kell, Dave Fox, Monte Sneed, Mike and Eddie King, Jimmy Dewar, Cindy McMillan, Jim Lazelle, Jim Beaver, Mary Jane Wilham (Pile), Jim Records, Greg Stinson, and the Fewell brothers (Hot Dog and Weenie😊). All of these folks, and so many others, truly touched my heart and will always have a place in my fondest memories.
In college, other than Bruce Benninger (B-Nut), most of my friends were the same as high school, with the addition of Linda Kispert, and a few others. Bruce was a great guy and was always so funny and upbeat, we need more positive people like him. Onto my work career where I met the absolutely most important person, Sarah my wife of now nearly 41 years. She is my rock and without doubt one of the finest genuine people I know – I wish I was as good a person as she is each and every day. Wende LaPierre (Bernard) was a great leader and is still a good friend. I never saw anyone work harder than Wende – she was just a super teammate!!! At Allied Signal I worked with teammates who became good friends; Bill Marion, Tony Borders, Joe Cade, and Kevin Dillow. At United Airlines I met and worked with great friends like Pat Ness, Chris Lloyd, and Rick Adams. All three of these folks are just super people. Rick makes it a point to occasionally call all of his friends, a trait we could all be better at – I truly appreciate this in you Rick! Rick is one of those guys that can do anything well – just show him what you expect and he will knock it out of the park. Ironically both Pat and Rick ended up at Rolls-Royce, like I did. It was good to see these great folks land on their feet after United filed bankruptcy and essentially closed up all standard US operations.
In my final two roles, I have met wonderful people at both Rolls-Royce and at GE Aviation. Both companies share a common bond of providing the very best jet, helicopter, and ship engines in the world with a significant emphasis on supporting our men and women in the various military’s all over the world. Just like high school, there are far too many people who have been oh so important to me to possibly mention, so I know I will miss a few. I mentioned Brianna and Will previously. Emily Morse, Carrie Frink, Tony Houston, Colleen Lowry, Linda Kennedy, Mark Smith, Kate Wheeler, Jeff Weigel, Dave Barton, Vicki Marko, Carrie McComb, Debbie Hannabus, Huw Morgan, Lars Neumann, and Tonya Sporys, were all magnificent workers and very good friends at Rolls-Royce and certainly contributed great things for this company. My time has been relatively short (2 years) at GE Aviation, but Jen Carlton, Chessie Witt, Jason Wilkerson, Dave Piatt, Shawn Burkle, Chris Brehmer, Liz Buehler, and Hartmann Young, are also incredibly knowledgeable and gifted people who do great things for GE Aviation, and I am so glad to call them all my friends.
In my church life, I’ve run into incredible people as well; The entire Teller family, especially Jim and Cindy, Scott Luck, Charlie Cash, Dave and Donna Steenbarger, and Sharon Steele, all wonderfully caring, and loving people, with a true dedication to, and love of, God!
Certainly, family has always been close and so wonderful. In fact, I have chosen to leave two great jobs, when I could have relocated, just to keep the family together. My wife and kids are just wonderful people and they have blessed us with 8 grandchildren with hopefully our first great grandchild on the way. For these things, I have truly been blessed. Unfortunately, only the immediate family has stayed close. My grandparents, parents, most aunts and uncles, and many cousins are all gone now, and the remaining cousins have not stayed very close. I have corresponded occasionally with my cousins in California but for the most part the only remaining family is here with us in Greenwood. My biggest regret is likely losing touch with these folks and I take at least half the blame on this one – I could have done better.
As a person who quite frankly has done everything in my power to ignore and not partake in social media, I have reassessed these values and have begun renewing some of these great friendships through this media. I have started this business; 46:10 Ministries, for the sole purpose of sharing positive news, information, and view points, and I hope to grow this into eventual public speaking opportunities and possible various podcasts, at virtually no cost to the consumer/public. I already speak publicly for my job and am on three different board of speakers, for three industry leaders. But I would like to take that passion and turn it into God and Jesus based conversations to bring more good news to our society and culture. The world today is far too full of negative, bad, depressing, and dark actions and words. I want to bring light, good, positive, and refreshing words into everyone’s life. I hope I can be successful and provide others with some good feelings and news. I keep this very modest web site and associated posts going for the sole intention of being an always upbeat, hopeful, and positive place to visit. If I have provided such a service to just one of you, then my time has not only not been wasted, but it is in fact truly rewarding.
When I remember all these wonderful people who have touched my life, and I know what God has done to bring us all together and to support each other, and I see how beautiful God’s creation works together as one beautiful symphony, then I am always thankful that I serve a loving, caring, and compassionate God. As my favorite musician of all time sang and played so beautifully; “What a Wonderful World” and what a wonderful life!!!
If you don’t know the song, you can listen at these links…The first link is the song showing only the lyrics. The second link is a video or Satchmo actually performing the song. Excuse Louis Armstrong's (Satchmo's) raspy voice, and just listen to the beautiful lyrics and song. Satchmo had the most beautiful and infectious smile in show business:
For a version with displayed lyrics: https://youtu.be/A3yCcXgbKrE
For video version where Satchmo actually performs the song: https://youtu.be/VqhCQZaH4Vs