Win Friends

I am not a fan of installing toilets, although it’s easy enough to do. It’s just the thought of what goes into them that kind of grosses me out.  You need a good seal on your toilet when you set it—believe me, I know firsthand what happens when you don’t.  

I picked up the wax ring needed to create the seal at the local Ace Hardware store. I was on my way home from a funeral service I had attended that morning. The service was for a man I knew named Bill,  who died too early in life even though he was in his eighties.  

Bill was a great example of what success in life is about, our connection to others. I don’t know if he ever read, How to Win Friends and Influence People, but he sure lived the principles in that book. Bill was genuinely connected to people. He liked people and people liked him. When you met him, he automatically assumed you were a friend and acted accordingly. He had a smile that made it impossible not to like him. You couldn’t not like him. He liked you too much first.  

The church where the funeral services were held was packed with people who were there to pay respects to a man who had been their friend. It wasn’t because he was prominent or held some important position in the community because he wasn’t and didn’t. He was, however, a giver who was interested in people.  

Bill was an interesting person in of himself, a New Englander transplanted in Utah. Careerwise, he had been an engineer and had even lived in Africa for a number of years with his then young family. He was short and stocky fellow which made it kind of surprising to find out he had run some 50 plus marathons in his life. He was also an avid genealogist—so much so that he often questioned his own mental health in regard to his obsession with the subject. His obsession with the dead though only seemed to make him more alive. If you weren’t careful, you would find yourself wondering if maybe you should start doing genealogy when you were around him. His enthusiasm for the subject was contagious.  

Bill wore bow ties to church and taught several generations of young men the art of tying a bow tie. It was always fun seeing a young man sporting a bow tie thanks to Bill’s tutoring.  At 78 he worked with 16 to 18-year-old boys teaching them what it meant to be a decent man, and human being. My own son was one of those he mentored.   

Bill was also constantly doing things for others. For several years he had been giving a neighbor who travels out of the country regularly, a ride to the airport—usually around 4 in the morning. For Bill, it wasn’t a big deal to take a friend to the airport. It was just one example of the countless acts of service he did, all the time.  

As I sat in the service and saw the impact Bill’s interest in others had, I found myself hoping and wanting to be more like him. I wasn’t so much saddened by his passing as I was inspired by who he had been. I found myself wanting to make deeper connections and friendships, while still alive and kicking—and in need of a well-installed toilet.

Thanks Bill for showing what it meant to win friends and influence people.


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