Today, I checked off another box on my bucket list.
I could write for hours about my relationship with a man I met by chance, probably in 1984, but neither of us remember for sure. That chance meeting on a Cessna Citation III jet from Teterboro, NJ to Nashua, NH was the genesis of a long friendship.
Chip Ray is a VP of Sales for Aurora Casket Co. and while just about fully retired, he is still considered one of the “professors” of his chosen field. He was kind enough to be in the office today when I came by for a scheduled meeting and a visit with him. The firms that I help manage are customers of Aurora Casket Co, which is just a short drive from Cincinnati. Also joining us today was our Aurora “Advisor” (pun intended) and licensed funeral director, Travis Neal.
As mentioned, I could spend the entire evening sharing the connections Chip and I share and we enjoyed a nice lunch today traveling back down many of those paths. Unfortunately, Travis had to listen to our stories, but he did get quite a history lesson.
There are a few people that I would take a bullet for. Two of them are mentioned in this paragraph. When I was out of work and almost out of severance pay in 1992, Chip Ray was the one who told me about an opportunity in Philadelphia, PA and that while the application period had already closed, to use his name when I called some guy named Bill McNamara to apply for the job.
I landed that position, which was the springboard of my career. At the age of 32, I promised Chip that I owed him a lunch. So many times our paths crossed, usually five minutes after one of us had left. Today, 25 years later, he picked up the tab, ensuring that we get together again and this time, it will be my treat.
Adding to this relaxing , but educational day away from the office, (well, half a day anyway) I ran into someone I knew even before I met Chip. It was quite a surprise to walk by an office and see Mary Andres Russell sitting behind her desk. Mary is a respected coach, trainer and funeral service professional whom I first met back in 1982-83 when I attended CCMS and she was a young manager at a local customer service center.
The funeral service universe/tribe is a relatively small group and if you hang around long enough, you see each other again.
Sometimes, getting old has it’s advantages.