I got a text message. My world changed. Clare Coxey had died.
I was shaken. Clare was one of the guidepost people. A gentleman thought leader, impeccably dressed, impeccable wit, and the kind of person I wanted to grow up to be. I needed closure, needed a few more moments of Clare’s presence.
You can read his official obituary here.
It wasn’t what I wanted. I re-read it, looking for a glimpse of the wit, intellect and humor that made coffee with Clare the meeting you didn’t want to miss. Mind you, it was a good Obituary, but it was a 2 dimensional description of a 4 dimensional being.
I found what I wanted in photographs of him, and I want to share some. I want to put this post on the web so that a “Clare Coxey” search turns up more than just an obit. Consider this a small attempt at sharing what it was like to be in the presence of greatness.
The first is the most subtle, but is my favorite.
I took a photo of Clare’s hands.
He was dreaming up a new idea. He was sketching a process model that could change the world.
On closer study, you spot the details. The pen, the paper, the drawing that would summarize a global concept in a few simple strokes of a pen. These are the hands of an artist. The next thing you notice is the wedding ring – Nelda was always with him. Then, you notice the perfectly creased French cuffs, the perfect touch of perfect tailoring.
I’m glad I took this, over a lunch of salad at Hoaglin’s a few short years ago.
Clare was expert in constant re-invention of everything around him. I met him in probably the fourth or fifth iteration of himself. He was a retired executive who had climbed the mountain in several service businesses, who lived surrounded by art and genteel pleasures. He then re-invented himself to be the highest ranking non-lawyer at one of the largest law firms in town. He tackled a new culture with vigor. He pruned, re-planted and fertilized the law firm, then moved on when the new garden was planted.
I know he loved gardening – I took a photo of his gardening shoes, outside the back step.
I did these as a watercolor.
Then, I found a few photos that showed what it really was like to have a brainstorming cup of coffee with Clare.
First, a monochrome shot of Clare on a rainy day.
Here was Clare, on his way and thinking as he walked. Even in bad weather, he was put together.
Then, the action really happened with Clare when you got face to face. Here are some action photos that capture the true creativity and humanity that was Clare.
Thank you, Clare. You are truly missed.
You wrote a wonderful life, between the lines.
There is a wonderful Steve Goodman Song –
Between the Lines
The day you’re born they sign a piece of paper
That will certify the date of your birth
And the day you die they sign another
Just to prove you’ve gone back to the earth
And between those two pieces of paper
There is the truth that is so hard to find
And the story of your life is written ‘, but
You must read in between the lines
I’ll always remember, Clare. Enjoy the photos…