- being interviewed by him in his office in February 1993; a modest man, his love of all things boating rivaled only by his love of family, especially his eight-year-old daughter, apparent within the first minutes of us talking
- being asked in that interview, “Let me play devil’s advocate with you: How can an editor from a magazine about babies, which is women’s work, work for a magazine about boats, which is men’s work?”
- responding, without missing a beat, “Let me ask you a question: Do you mean to tell me you leave every decision about your daughter’s upbringing to your wife?”
- getting the job—and keeping a job on his staff for the next 15 years, taking on responsibilities and challenges he let me create
- earning his friendship as much as his professional respect, and gladly giving him the same
- walking into his office any number of times, saying, “Richard, I have an idea…” and him responding, an equal number of times, “Go for it”
- laughing every day in his office, in someone else’s office, in the hallway, all of the above—truly, we were always laughing (and oh, his laugh! an endearingly goofy laugh!)
- walking into his office in July 2008, a knot in my stomach, as I was about to tell my boss, my friend, my mentor that I was leaving—and knowing I wasn’t telling the whole truth as to why, despite it having nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with him
- being taken to dinner by him to celebrate the next steps of my professional career
- seeing him at boat shows over the years, and emailing on occasion to share a success story, and often a good laugh
- ducking for dry shelter with him due to a sudden downpour at the Fort Lauderdale boat show last year—and talking there well after the rain had stopped, answering question after question about my website, my two companies, and my overall professional journey
- hearing him say how proud he was of what I’d done and what I was continuing to do
- feeling like I was on cloud nine every time he said that
- receiving a phone call 10 months later from a mutual friend, learning he’d had a stroke and suffered complications so severe that he was being moved to hospice
- being numb… for hours; then breaking down, feeling numb again, and riding a roller coaster ride of emotions the rest of the day
- being unable to comprehend just over 48 hours later that he was gone…
- …finding solace in photos where he’s making a goofy face (because he was always making goofy faces)…
- …and laughing—soul-satisfying belly laughing—upon remembering the hilarious pranks he pulled, like the time he slipped half a dozen butter knives into a colleague’s coat pocket.
You were one in a million, Richard. Thanks for the memories.
Richard Thiel: 1945-2016.