The Greatest Generation

I have just begun reading Tom Brokaw’s best-selling book The Greatest Generation. To quote from the inside jacket of the book, “Brokaw brings to life the inspiring stories of men and women who gave new meaning to the ideals of character and strong values. From military heroes to community leaders to ordinary citizens, he profiles people who served their country with valor, then came home and transformed it.”

Those words describe two longtime members of the Society of Exchange Counselors who have recently passed from this life: Kenny Johnson and Jack Hunt. Both men not only served their country during WWII then came home and transformed it, but they also transformed all of us who knew them. They took time to help us, mentor us and teach us.

I was only around Kenny a few times but from the stories I heard from those who knew him well and from reading his S.E.C. Biography, I missed getting to know a great man. He served our country in the U.S. Navy and had I known that I would not have missed the opportunity to get to know him better because my own father served in the Navy during WWII. I would have had a lot of questions about that part of his life, questions I never got to ask my Dad before he died. Kenny was successful in our industry and credited formulas along with personal relationships as his key to success.

I did have the opportunity of knowing Jack. He too served our country during WWII and then returned to serve his greater community. It was a moving experience at Jack’s wake to see such a cross section of people — from brick layers to bankers, from secretaries to business partners — all saying the same thing about Jack: “He was the most honorable man I’ve ever known”; “His door was always open to me and he wanted to help with any problem I had”; “He always tried to have a win/win outcome”; or, “He was such a kind and gentle man” and many other such comments. I had one of those moments all of us have probably had at one time or another at a memorial service and that is thinking about what our own legacy will be.

At a recent invitational marketing meeting of the Society of Exchange Counselors, I was talking to a guest from Wichita, Kansas, about Jack. He told me about going to see Jack in the hospital to thank him for being his mentor. After seeing Jack, he made a decision that instead of just focusing on his own real estate investments and closing his brokerage company as he had been planning to do, he would continue being the broker to his associates because he felt the call to make sure that the knowledge and creativity in real estate that had been given to him was passed on to the generation following him. What a great attitude to have and what a great way to honor Jack. What a challenge to all of us.

My hope is that my generation will not leave a legacy that is referred to as “baby boomer” but will be remembered for passing the ideals that were given us on to the next generation.

So, to Kenny and Jack and to all the men and women of the “Greatest Generation,” those still with us and teaching us and those whose lives may have passed but their ideals have not, from all of us, we say “Thank you.”

Editor’s Note: Many people have expressed an interest in supporting the S.E.C. Ed Foundation. Should you wish to make a tax deductible donation in honor of Jack Hunt and Kenny Johnson, please make your check payable to the S.E.C. Education Foundation and mail it to: Society of Exchange Counselors, 5580 La Jolla Boulevard, #110, La Jolla, CA, 92037.

One Comment »

  1. […] Us « Fall 2008 » Inside this Issue » « Previous: The Greatest Generation […]