“All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” – Ecclesiastes 2:17
Delton Bennett was my role model for the kind of professional I longed to become. For years we worked as colleagues, except he belonged to an older generation and had years of experience under his belt which I did not. Working along side him gave me access to his wisdom which I tried to absorb like a sponge. Not only was he a man of deep experience and knowledge, with impeccable integrity, and a gentleman in every way, he was legendary among his fellow municipal bond professionals. That’s what I wanted to be, a legend like him. After all, shouldn’t we all strive to become the best we can be?
Delton eventually left the profession to enjoy his retirement years, until age and ill health finally took their toll. At the reception following his funeral service I recall meeting three gentlemen who happened to be his golf buddies. When they inquired about my association with Delton I explained that we had been work colleagues, and that he was one of the true legends of our profession. The expression on all three of their faces revealed both surprise and curiosity, until one of them finally spoke up, “Funny, we never knew what Delton did professionally. He never mentioned it.”
Just recently another old friend passed away, Jerry Pate Long, a contemporary with whom I had grown up in the same hometown. His obituary spoke glowingly about him, his deep love for his family – children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren – his long love affair with Susie, the love of his life since high school, his passion for our hometown and high school football team, his outgoing personality, many friendships, and love for telling stories. What was glaringly absent in the obituary, though, was there was no mention of what he did for a living. But I happened to know he did make a living, a quite good one I think, because he always seemed to have enough and was a good provider.
Earning a living is of course essential for providing for ourselves and our families, and when our livelihoods contribute to the greater good of the larger community, how noble is that. So why did Delton and Jerry Pate choose that their jobs and professions not be their legacies? Perhaps it is because in the end, “All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Delton is still my role model, except not for the same reason I once thought. Instead, I hope when the time comes my own obituary will read just like Jerry Pate’s.