This is not a financial post, but a personal one. I suffered the most personal loss of my life this week. I needed an outlet and this is it. I just had to write down my feelings and last words out of respect to one of the greatest people I’ve ever encountered. I apologize in advance for any typos, I’ll fix them when I’m in a better mindset.
Where to begin. I could write books upon books upon books about this guy and our lives together. But, I’ll keep the introduction short. Superman is gone. He’s been called by a higher power to serve others. I lost my best friend, older brother, and father figure. The world lost a larger than life person with a heart so huge it cannot be measured.
We met when I was a child, ten years old. It was an unusual friendship, he was 19 and I was 10. We had no business being friends, but
friends brothers we quickly became. I’m so lucky that he and my sister dated or we would’ve never met. He taught me so many things that honestly, the list cannot fit on this post or in any book.
He taught me how to live, love and laugh. He taught me how to drive cars and boats, ride motorcycles, fish, hunt, shoot guns, flirt with girls, ask girls out (trust me – I would never have had the guts to approach my supermodel wife of 19-years without this guy’s teachings) deal with conflict, and to question everything. He took me on my first airplane, boat, my first trip away from home, my first trip to Vegas. He let me use his brand new awesome car for prom, and gave my high school girlfriend and I his house for the weekend. He bought me my first suit, my first car, and helped me get my first job. He bought me my first CD Player and VCR (the two most amazing gifts a 13-year-old boy in the 1980’s could receive). We’ve worked together, lived together, started businesses together, made lots of money and lost lots of money together, been in car crashes together; you name it we did it together :-).
He taught me through example what a man is and how a man acts. He taught me to protect the innocent and to fight for justice. He taught me to love those closest to me with everything I have and to leave nothing to chance. He taught me how to mourn by helping me with my first loss in life. He inspired me with his strength when he lost his younger sister in a tragic accident. He was the only person who knew all of my hopes, fears, and dreams; my deepest darkest secrets. I knew his secrets too and I’ve always protected them. He taught me to live life to its fullest. We had so much fun together! We’ve shared tons of unbelievable experiences. With him, everything was an adventure. We knew each other for 33 years, but in that time I’ve received more than a lifetime of memories.
He was and always will be my hero. His guidance was so crucial to my development that I’ve in-turn shared it with others. What he doesn’t know is that he shaped a handful of troublesome teenage neighborhood boys. Me, my brother, and my closest friends all had our eyes opened to what’s possible in the world. We saw him win and lose, but he always got back up. He had it all, lost it all, and had it all again. In those times, that which made him special never changed. He taught me how to win with humility and lose with dignity. He taught me that random acts of kindness can move mountains; that even the smallest gestures can absolutely change the direction of another person’s future.
A few stories, I’ll never forget. We helped a family on the side of a road with a broken-down car. He fixed their car, then we took all 6 of them to dinner. During dinner, he pulled the father aside and gave him $500 cash to help with Christmas gifts. We stumbled upon an unfair 3 on 1 fight; he demolished the three bullies, cleaned the victim up, bought him dinner and drove him home. He and he alone, defeated 6 men who attacked my wife and friends for no reason. I’ve watched him drag a man out of a restaurant by his hair for slapping and pushing down his girlfriend. Let’s just say that guy got what was coming to him. To be very clear, he was not bully, he was a protector. He protected anyone who needed it. He always did what was right and led his life with the highest integrity. I’ve watched him pull a man from a burning car. I’ve seen him save someone from drowning on more than one occasion. I’ve helped him turn over a flipped car. He then, ripped the driver’s door off, bare handed, to get to an injured person. This all sounds unbelievable but trust me, I lived it and those who know him BELIEVE IT 100%! This guy was a gentle giant, he had the strength of 20 men, with the heart of a princess. He was a real-life Superman!
I can count more than a 1,000 times where he saw someone in need and provided for them; whether it be food, money, advice, or a shoulder to cry on. I’ve watched him give away tens of thousands of dollars to random strangers in need. I’ll never forget when he saw a homeless man outside of our office. He asked the man to have lunch with us. After lunch he spent over $1,000 buying clothes, shoes, blankets, and necessities for this stranger. He always knew what people needed and unselfishly gave all of himself to others. Honestly not a day in our lives together went by where he didn’t do the right thing and help someone. I always knew that he had my back. I always knew I was safe with him and that he would have given every possession, even his own life to protect me.
I always wondered why he took me on as a project, but looking back now it makes perfect sense. He always fought for the underdog. I was an overweight kid from a poor family, who just needed someone to believe in me and give me a chance. He gave me many chances and I took advantage of every opportunity. I was an underdog, with no business succeeding in life. He gave me the confidence and education to become so much more than I ever imagined.
Everyone who knew him thought he was immortal. He was Superman. How can Superman die? I’m struggling to make sense of the tragic way he instantly lost his life. I never got to say goodbye, I never got to thank him for shaping who I’ve become. I know he knew how much I loved and respected him; but damn I wish I had one more chance to tell him in person. I’ll never forget what he’s done for me and my family. I’ll never forget how special he made me feel and how safe I felt with him. His flame burned out to soon, but he left a fire in everyone he touched. Those flames will continue burning.
Rich, my heart is broken. I will miss you so much. You were the most influential person in my life. I can never thank you enough for being in my life and teaching me how to be a man. You gave me so much and never asked for anything in return. I will never forget you and the kindness of spirit that emanated from you. Thank you for being my brother and sharing your life with me. I was feeling sorry for myself, but now after reflection, I feel sorry for all of those who never met you. I got 33 years. I’m so lucky that you were in my life for 33 years.
Rich, if you were not Superman, I don’t know who could be.