I didn’t write about this months ago when it happened, as I wanted everything to settle down and then had other matters to attend to among the living. Bob Kell, Jr., my friend (and accountant / networking associate) passed away earlier this year. (On an odd note, he was just putting together the taxes that my previous tax preparer lost, placing me at square one a second time … he was the IRS “bulldog” — the ace in my hand if they cracked down on me, and now … well … anyway …)
At his funeral, I got up and read an email I had sent to him, as I didn’t know how else to express myself. I wore my Roman collar for the first time, for reasons referred to in the message:
Subject: Goodbye for Now
I think it’s overdue to say “Dear Bob” since this is a personal message instead of the usual business ones, but here it goes …
I’ve known you for a lot of years. We didn’t spend a lot of time together, but we did spend time, and it was well spent. I’m glad we’ve had the chance now and then, and even recently, to talk about life, the past, the future, and now I guess it’s time to summarize our friendship in this life.
If I had one word, it would be “Thanks.” Thanks for being you. It would be hard to find anyone who has met you who doesn’t have respect for you as a professional and as a person. Sitting in a chair hasn’t stopped you from standing tall and even now above us. The early years we knew each other, when aside from the crowd, you gave me counsel. Encouragement. Compassion. Even a natural fatherlyness that made me think how lucky your daughter was when she was born.
The last couple years, I know life has been hard, and I’d like to think I’ve given some of that back to you. You never asked for help, but accepted kind words and advice from someone as young as I gracefully, even appreciatively, and that’s something I cherish as well. Blessed to have known you at all, I looked forward to knowing you better. But that will have to be another time, another place.
You were that toughness we needed in our circle of business people, but I never thought of you as “Bulldog” on the inside, and you’re the only person who’s ever made a habit out of calling me “Rev”. I don’t like to use the title myself, but I think now I have someone in a higher place telling me it’s alright when other people do from now on.
Your business tagline was always that “we put your mind to rest” but now it’s God’s turn to reward you with rest, and I’m confident He will.
Forever in my thoughts. Farewell my friend.
Bob left behind a 5-year-old daughter, and her mother asked for the printed email to keep and give to her someday. Last Sunday, we had a benefit I set up at the house for friends of Bob Kell to raise a few bucks for his daughter’s college someday. We wanted her to know when she grew up how loved and respected her father was to us.
What I never told her mom was that even though business-related emails to him bounced (in that few day period we didn’t know he had passed on), the last one I sent never came back undelivered.