It feels like forever since I’ve penned anything. I have note after note that captures thought after thought, yet none of those notes have fully developed into something that resembles anything worth sharing. They will come in time, I suppose. If time is given.
I’m caught this week in the delicate struggle between frailty and immortality. Two role models of mine have died. Two men who were “the good ones,” as a friend aptly put it. The two men lived very different lives and didn’t know each other. One was a small business owner and one was a business mogul. One lived in Oklahoma in a modest home and one lived in Texas in an exclusive neighborhood. Yet both lived with a purpose far beyond success and fame. And I’m so humbled to have know each of them.
I met Ken when, as a freshman in high school, I began running around with his daughter, Rhonda. There was something different about him – different than any man I had ever been around. Ken enthusiastically loved God. He prayed with his family, shared his faith often, and put Christ at the center of all he did. And he was a creative soul who loved color and design – he saw it as a gift from the Lord. I distinctly remember the day he painted the Lord’s Prayer on the dining room wall, diagonally with a crisp font treatment. He wanted his family to always remember Who supplied, Who loved, Who protected. And I wanted my dad to be like Ken.
On Monday, Ken was working on a roof with his son-in-law. He complained of being tired, and sat to rest. His last words were “Praise Jesus. Hallelujah. Thank you Lord.” He slumped over and was gone. His heart simply stopped beating.
When I first met Frank, I thought he was a sales assistant. The television station sales offices were moving, and he had removed his tie and rolled up shirt sleeves to help his staff move boxes. He had a boyish look about him, far from the image I had painted in my mind of a General Manager of a major market TV station. I arrived, dressed in the only suit I owned, with videotapes in one hand and writing samples in the other. He had called me after seeing my resume, and asked if I would be available to meet about a job opportunity. At the time, I was an assistant in the Promotion Department at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City – a low-paying “catch-all” position at the television station. As a struggling single parent dealing with life after an abusive marriage, I could make enough at the job to pay for necessities, but not enough to pay for a place to live. So I stayed with my parents and prayed for better days to come.
Frank and I talked, and he fixed his attention on a few specific projects I had worked on. Those projects involved generating revenue through underwriting and sponsorships. He saw something in me I wasn’t even sure I saw in myself. That meeting was in October 1989, and in February 1990 I was named Director of Sales Promotion for KXAS-TV in Dallas. It was a start-up position – the first of its kind in the country. Frank put his faith in me to bring his vision to fruition. And with his support and encouragement, it worked – very well. My story of Frank isn’t an unusual one. There are countless people to whom Frank has provided career starts, management opportunities, business connections. He was a brilliant salesperson and leader, but he wasn’t filled with ego – he found joy in pouring his life into others.
Frank had been battling cancer – a rare form that baffled doctors. He tried various treatments as he continued to live life to the fullest. But he grew weary of the chemo, and asked that it cease about a month ago. He passed away early this morning, surrounded by family.
Death reminds us all how frail we are – how this life truly is just a vapor. But we can live forever. Ken continues to live on, through the love and faith he shared with his family and friends. Frank continues to live on in the lives of those he counseled, those he coached – those he believed in, like me.
Prov. 11: 25 A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
Prov. 22: 1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Thank you Ken. Thank you Frank. I pray that, should I be given the opportunity to be a role model in another’s life, I will model your character, your faith, your selflessness.