I come from a big family – I was number four out of eight kids. My brother Jeff was just one year younger than me. He and our younger brother, Kyle, who was three years younger than me, were always a pretty close-knit “team.” Jeff grew to be a big guy, but he was also a thoughtful, sensitive and quiet man with a huge heart. If you ever needed someone to talk to or needed a hand with a project, Jeff was always the first one there. And not just for me and our family, but for his circle of friends, his church and his business associates. Needless to say, he was also an amazing husband and father for his family.
Even though he was younger than me, for all of these reasons he truly became the person I looked up to the most.
Tragically, Jeff’s life was cut way too short when he died five years ago at just 56 years old. He died of complications from the Lymphoma he had been quietly fighting for most of his adult life. By “quietly” I really mean that. He never complained and rarely spoke about his condition, even when we pressed him to.
They say you can tell the true measure of a man by what he leaves behind. You couldn’t find better proof of that than Jeff’s amazing wife Patty and their four awesome children – Gabrielle, Ben, Nate and Zach. Right from the start, Patty was the perfect fit with Jeff. Even though she was by nature a quiet person, she was never intimidated by our large, raucous family that surrounded Jeff. And the strength she has demonstrated over the past five years is an example for us all. It is so great to see what terrific adults Jeff’s kids have all grown up to become. I am so proud of all of them and enjoy their company immensely every time I see them.
Every day I strive to be as good of a man as Jeff was.