Thursday, May 31, 2007

36 years - 18 months = 34 wonderful years

He has always been my hero.

He has always been bigger than life.

He was the man who formed my faith, and taught me that a woman is not limited in what she can do just because she’s a woman

He’s the man who taught me the word ambidextrous when I wasn’t even big enough to have any business saying that word.

He’s the man who we honored this past Saturday night, and while to most of the people there he was a great friend, co-worker, boss, employee – before he was all of these things, he was my dad.

I was born in the very small period of time that my dad wasn’t Pfizer. Yes, I said my dad was Pfizer, because for me, growing up – he was. As far back as I can remember, Pfizer was part of my life. I had the “opportunity” to learn that when a “p” and an “f” are next to one another that you don’t pronounce the “p” at a much earlier age than most of my contemporaries.

One of my earliest “Pfizer” memories is when we lived in Houston. My dad was a hospital rep, and he had just been promoted to his first district manager position. We found out at a “family meeting” – which by the way was where we would find out about moves or babies, or sometimes both – that we would be moving to Oklahoma. I remember crying and crying. My dad asked me why I was crying, and I told him that he would be gone even more than he was now with work. He assured me that his office would be at home so he would be home more. Now for anyone who knows my dad, he is not a man who does anything half-way; especially not something he is passionate about. And my dad was passionate about his job. Let me change that. He never felt like what he was doing was "work". He was having fun and getting paid for it. One of the things that he told my brother Michael when he was looking for a job out of college, was not to find something you're good at, but to find something you love to do and become good at it. That's what my dad did every day of his 34 year career with Pfizer.

People always talked about the "Pfizer Pfamily", and it was truly a reality for our family. We always had a place to stay on our road trips. When I went off to college in Richmond, my parents introduce me to Mel & Elsie Katz. Mel was the District Manager for the Richmond district. I'm not sure how well my dad knew Mel at the time, but through the years that they were my surrogate parents while I was at school, their friendship grew. I still exchange Christmas cards and birth announcements with the Katz family - that's how close we became, and it was because of the thread that bound us together - Pfizer.

The Pfizer Pfamily connection even played a role in the life I have today. Tom Killick, who was working for my dad, is the one who introduced Chris and I. Without that introduction, I wouldn't be as happy as I am today, and I wouldn't be blessed with the life I have. Tom always says it took him a year and a half to make the introduction, because he was afraid if Chris and I didn't hit it off that my dad would fire him! Now that it's worked out, Tom is still saying my dad owes him one for getting me out of his house!

So, how do you celebrate 34 fabulous, successful years? You do it in style. The night of May 19th brought together all of my brothers and sisters, as well as people from all over the country, to come and pay tribute to a legend - my dad. There were people from the beginning right through to the end of his illustrious career. Who came you ask? Why, I'll tell you!

Jim Raby & his wife Jeannie, Jim Black & his wife Mary were friends from years ago who share special memories with my parents of a fun trip to Mexico - oh the stories they tell!

Murray Smith & his wife Crystal as well as Woody Goodson also made an appearance. The aforementioned Mel Katz & his wife Elsie drove up from Richmond. Al Derenzo, and Mike Logan both came up from Florida. Mark Brown & his wife Lynette drove down from Connecticut. When Mark became a District Manager, he lived down the road from our family in Florida. Now he lives in the same town that we lived in 20 years ago! Another regional manager, Brad Doss & his wife Christine were there. There were 2 former Assistants to the Regional Manager (ARMs) Dan Bellair and & John Hooten who was responsible for putting the party together. And many managers who used to work for my dad came from near and far for his final hoorah: Mark Iverson, Scott Sagester (a fellow Spider!), Katina Owens & her husband Scott, Joe McCoy, Jonathan Kashouty, Gary Malmstrom, Scott Kinas, Sean Griffith, Tony Anderson, John Melvic & his wife Leslie, Frank Sodnicar & his wife Carla, Rory & Debbie White and Mirella & Seth Berger & their 7 week old daughter Katerina.

It was a night full of laughter and tears. There were a number of speeches, and someone noted later that for a tribute to a really funny guy, there were quite a number of serious speeches. It goes to show the full spectrum that is my dad. This is the guy who can find a pun nearly everywhere he turns, but he also cries at the end of "Highway to Heaven". I have always been proud to call him my dad. I was so moved to see how many lives he touched in his career with Pfizer, and how many people are proud to call him their friend.

Dad, this isn't an ending, but a new beginning, and I'm excited to see what the future holds for you.


Cay said...

What a great family shot and such a moving tribute.

Beautiful, Cindy.

Jane Ramsey said...

Very sweet, Cindy.
Happy Retirement to your dad!