A Tribute to Lee Salmon: Friend, Mentor and Business Ally

Lee SalmonThis past weekend, I volunteered for a sad task: the eulogizing of my dear friend, Lee Salmon.  Lee was only in his early 70’s when he died suddenly; the victim of a heart attack.

There are few things more important in life than friends that are true.  Lee was such a friend.  Our lives are impacted when anyone close to us dies, but the passing of a true friend leaves a hole not soon to be filled.  And while 30 years ago I might have considered 70-something to be woefully old, it seems younger with each passing year.

If life is a mosaic of memories, I owe a number of those fond memories to Lee.

Funerals, by their nature, are sad occasions.  If strength can be found by attending and being supportive of family and other friends, then Saturday was a day of strength.  Writing his eulogy forced me to take mental stock of the many ways Lee and his wife, Mary Ann, touched me.  The following is a simple list of just ten of the reasons I am so fortunate to have been able to call Lee my friend:

1. Lee and I met several years ago at an executive coaching conference. I remember the healing service he led at the conclusion of the conference and how impactful it was to all of us.

2. I was impressed with Lee’s openness and generosity of spirit from the first time I met him.

3. I remember many phone conversations about business opportunities and proposals. We would go back and forth about ways to win the business. During the past week, Lee’s wife, Mary Ann, told me how energized he was by those conversations. I knew it and always appreciated his honesty and collaboration.

4. At my former company, we gave Lee the “Rookie of the Year” award. Not a rookie to business, but he was new to working with us, and I wanted to recognize his effort.  I remember him laughing, graciously.  I remember hearing how much he and Mary Ann enjoyed their prize dinner at the restaurant, Ris.

5. The time Lee told me that he needed to end our conversation so that he could spend time with his granddaughters, who were in the mobile home that Lee and Mary Ann enjoyed so much.

6. Going back and forth with Lee in planning a conference for senior executives. As a former

Federal executive, he had a deep understanding of the challenges of Federal leaders and a keen understanding of business.

7. Lee’s trust in me to introduce me and my firm to several opportunities to be of service to clients and our ability to work out details of our business relationship and how to work each and every opportunity.

8. Having dinner with Lee and Mary Ann last year, and lighting the menorah candles together in celebration of Hanukkah. Both Lee and Mary Ann were so welcoming, so gracious and so accepting of this holiday tradition of mine.

9. Lee’s generosity as a networker: introducing me to two of his former colleagues from the Federal government I have since worked with and recently introducing me to a new assessment that he was interested in getting trained on and having my firm represent.

10. I always enjoyed hearing about how much Lee loved his son, Chris, and hearing about the wonderful experiences together.  As a father who very much loves my own son, that impressed me.

As I mentioned to Mary Ann and several of my colleagues during the past week, I knew he wasn’t perfect, but he was one of the very few people that no one ever had a bad word about.  Whatever flaws Lee might have had were more than compensated for by his generous spirit and kind nature.

I will miss Lee very much and if you knew him, I’m sure you feel the same way. He has left a big void in our community.

Lee Salmon tribute

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