Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jack Yellowlees

Today I lost a dear friend.  Around noon, when I received the news of Jack Yellowlee's passing, (something that I knew was inevitable once I heard that his doctor's had given up on treating what turned out to be a very aggressive lymphoma), I immediately teared up as I realized that I would never again receive his encouraging phone calls, benefit from his sage advice, bask in his belly laugh or his unwavering, unconditional and non-judgemental support.  But as the day progressed and the bright blue sky embraced a sun shining ever so brightly, and later, as the moon followed suit, circled by a great white ring, I knew that Jack was home and that the heavens were in a state of ecstasy as they claimed this great man for themselves.  I may have lost my earthly friend, but now I have a new guardian angel.  As one my dad's best friends and business associates, Jack was one of a handful of IBM executives who were always in our lives growing up.  So about 15 years ago, when my father thought it was time to create some distance between himself as a business coach to his entrepreneurial sons, and later as he moved his life to Ireland, he left us with a great gift.  He asked Jack to chair an Advisory Committee to advise my brother John and me on our business dealings.  Jack would make the trip to Grafton for our quarterly Advisory Committee meetings in his sensible Volvo station wagon.  He ran the meetings, with a casual elegance asking a myriad of questions, and offering his advice and encouragement.  He was always so genuinely inquisitive.  I suppose my father knew that Jack would fill a void for us that he realized he could never fill, only because he was our father.  What surprised me though was how easily I would come to love Jack and his wife Helene as gentle, gracious friends.  I can't say I've ever felt inspired to quote Ronald Reagan before, but today his words from January 28th, 1986 are stuck in my mind as my friend Jack has 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God'.  Godspeed Jack.

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