I once wrote about friends you leave behind when you move. Good intentions said the bond would remain strong. But time and distance have ways of overcoming good intentions. And so it was with George. I use the past tense because George passed away a few days ago.
It was a death I guess I never expected. The family has a picture of George in a Superman tee shirt and I think I viewed George in that way. Just as Superman never grows old and never dies, I guess I expected the same thing of George.
George was the first person I worked for at the nevermore National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC). He was a special supervisor in that I never once had any kind of complaint about his performance. He gave me room to perform but quietly kept me within organizational bounds. He was kind, he was knowledgeable, he was understanding, and he was a man who relished a challenge.
Later in my career he was a managerial peer. Then he was cooperative, he was helpful, he was supportive and he was a confidant. I never had to worry about what he might say in a staff meeting or technical review. Technically he was focused on progress and success. He wisely praised in public and raised concerns privately. Personnel grew and matured under his guidance.
I guess it would be correct to say that in many ways George was my role model. Now my thoughts are best expressed by Paul Simon in his song, “You can call me Al” – now that my role model is gone. But like the best of role models, the role model is gone but the lessons he taught still remain – even into old age.