I just learned that a man I knew in my past life (i.e. in the workplace) died this morning. He and I were not very close, although we worked together for a little over two years until I 'retired' when Son #3 was born. Still he made an impression on many different levels. He was our company's human resource guy - self-taught. He was always upbeat and loved the company. (Back then, the company was like that: they had a knack for garnering long-term loyalty. Not so sure that's true today.)
The company underwent a reorganization in late 2001 and the powers that be decided that he would no longer serve as HR Guy. They offered him another position - a slightly lesser position, I think - and brought in someone else who had a strong HR background. Not sure what that meant. A degree, perhaps? I guess Chaz's decades of HR experience with the company didn't count. Still, at a time when several long term employees were being laid off (they didn't fit in with the company's new vision, apparently), Chaz gracefully accepted the new assignment. His health had also begun to suffer, which may have contributed to his decision. He had a bout with cancer, and more recently his kidneys and liver began to fail. He required dialysis and yet still succeeded in his work responsibilities.
A few months ago (has it been that long?) on his way home from a dialysis treatment, it's thought he blacked out and hit an 18-wheeler head on. Broke both arms and legs. Although he didn't seem to suffer any significant head trauma he never regained full consciousness and the doctors couldn't seem to figure out why.
My friend emailed me with this: "Between kidney and liver failure, cancer, Katrina
and then the car accident, I think the fight was no longer in him." If that's indeed true, Chaz put up one hell of a fight. Always with grace. Always with dignity.
As I said, he and I weren't close since I left my job. Yet, I'm deeply saddened. We've lost a true class act at a time when our city needs it the most. (I forgot to mention that he was active in several civic groups in the New Orleans area, didn't I?) Despite all he's had to contend with the past several years, he was an amazing spirit. Keep his wife and son in your prayers, if you will. I am.