What the Society Means to Me

Editor’s Note:  Ron Moser, was an S.E.C. member for many years. He wrote this article in 2016 to memorialize his connection to the Society.  Sadly, Ron passed away on June 20, 2020, and this seems like a good time to revisit his story.

I attended seminars presented by James Misko and Wally Walker in my hometown of Missoula, Montana, in 1972, and shortly thereafter attended Richard Reno’s course near San Jose. My mentor/partner, J. C. Jacks, was the only S.E.C. in Montana at the time, and he piqued my interest; the three seminars closed the deal. Cliff Weaver was a friend of Jim, Wally, and Reno, and they all became my friends. Soon we asked John Berven, Cliff, Bob Steele, and Charles Chatham to come to Missoula to share their knowledge. They all became friends almost immediately, and because I had put together a 15-leg exchange among nine uncounseled parties in 70 days, they all encouraged me to become a member.

Walt Futtrup sponsored me for membership in the Society, and I applied. I still needed more experience, so I began attending the new R.E.N.O marketing sessions in Reno and Las Vegas and joined and moderated other marketing sessions across the Western United States (including Roy Moore’s unique Pawhuska, Oklahoma gathering); I was initiated into the Society in 1975 in Tucson. I think I attended about half of the S.E.C. meetings thereafter until 1984, when my wife, Barbie, and I both had health issues that prevented me from traveling.

Barbie had been an excellent seamstress and she made shirts for quite a number of S.E.C.s. I once traded six shirts to Peter Hodgkinson for six lots in Chloride, Arizona, and with a few more trades with Jim Reid, Bert Speer, Giles Lucker, Bob Stampfli, and others, those six shirts had turned into two F&C lots in the Bahamas within 30 days. That got Barbie interested in S.E.C.—she took Art Hamel’s course in San Jose and bought a dress shop. So, you can see we had a lot of fun for about 13 years, during which I also operated a 1,660 acre farm in Montana where I had to commute 200 miles, which broadened my client area.

In 1985, when Barbie died, our son Aaron was only 16; they were very close, so he was devastated. Aaron really never got over it, even after he married Alison, the love of his life, in 1994. Alison had an 18-month-old son, Alex, when they married. Also, in December of 1985, Jim Farley died of cancer. Because he and Barbie were suffering from the same disease, and we knew one another through the S.E.C., the two of them talked together by phone until she died. When Jim died, he was so well liked and respected in the Society, the Society created the Farley Fund to be used in his name to help other people in need (which later became the S.E.C. Education Foundation).

Now, back to my son, Aaron. He and Alison went to Guam for two years where she taught. They then moved back to Missoula, where Aaron worked as one of the best waiters in Missoula’s best restaurant as he attended the University of Montana. They soon managed to add four more children in addition to Alex—Aidan, Anton, Anna, and Addie, all close in age; they were an extremely close family. So, it was a real tragedy when Alison contracted a brain tumor in 2005 and died 16 months later in November 2006. Alison was only 38 years old, leaving Aaron, also 38, a widower with Alex and four small children. Alex went to live with his biological dad. Aaron was immediately overwhelmed, and still hasn’t completely recovered.

My daughter, my wife, Chantal, and I live very close by, and Alison had a number of close friends who have acted as “aunties” to help Aaron and the kids. Simultaneously, Jim and Norma Farley’s son, Ryan, and wife, Michal, had moved to Missoula, and had become friends with Aaron. But none of them were immediately aware that Jim Farley and I had been both friends and colleagues in the Society years ago. They didn’t discover that until a couple of years later. Because they were friends, and Aidan babysat the Farley’s three younger children; Michal would help Aaron in the house and they would invite Aaron and the kids for barbecues as their friendship developed.

After they realized their parents’ connection, and they could see Aaron was struggling more, Ryan and Michal became concerned that Aaron might be unable to care for the kids. They discussed it in-depth first with their own children, and then called me. They told me they would like to take all four of Aaron’s children if it became necessary and asked if we would approve. About two years ago, when it did become necessary, Ryan and Michal stepped up to the plate, and with the help of others, converted their garage, and took all four children into their own family, knowing that nine-year-old Addie had developed a rare but unknown disease. Aaron gave them legal custody.

For Ryan and Michal to do such a thing was extraordinary, unselfish, kind, caring, and loving. I say the latter, because they became a family of nine instead of five. The love is real both ways and in all directions, and it is honored and helped by the extended families of both Ryan and Michal. If anyone questioned Ryan and Michal’s love, they certainly shouldn’t, because soon after, Addie’s disease became identified as Gorham’s Disease. There are only 200 cases in the world, making Addie the victim of 1 in 35 million odds, and the road ahead would be extremely difficult.

The entire family had to go to Denver Children’s Hospital in June of 2015, because the bone-eating disease had already taken Addie’s left scapula and part of her clavicle. She received radiation treatments, then came home in July. In September, she was short of breath and was flown via MediVac to Denver again, when it was learned that a sister disease, lymphangiomatosis, had joined the battle against her, creating a need for constant care. After conference calls and a number of invasive procedures, none of the options available in Denver seemed to solve the problem. A special kind of x-ray machine was needed, and there are only two hospitals in America that have them. Since the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is the best in the world to treat Gorham’s, Addie and Ryan were flown there via MediVac on December 10, 2015. And after more and more increasingly invasive procedures, biopsies, and so on, it was discovered in the last week of February, almost three months later, that a third malady had developed, angiosarcoma, an untreatable cancer. Addie and Ryan were flown back to Missoula so Addie could exchange goodbyes with family and friends, but she had to be hospitalized the entire time. We were hoping Addie would enjoy her 12th birthday on May 15.

When Ryan told her about the latest test results, she cried for a short time, then they began talking about coming home to finish her life. Addie was very smart, brave, courageous beyond belief, and she still had a sense of humor. Needless to say, we have had prayers from all over the world, and a great deal of very much appreciated financial help, especially from S.E.C. members. We will never be able to thank them enough. Sadly, we lost Addie on March 17, but she will always be remembered for her fighting spirit and positive attitude in the face of unimaginable challenges.

I’ve tried to make this as brief as possible, yet cover all of the main points. But one more point must be made, and that is that the Society of Exchange Counselors is “Family First,” then business. The organization was formed upon that ideal, and I don’t think it has ever been illustrated more accurately than in the way Addie was helped during her struggle. She was able to finish her life having experienced the caring and compassion that was given through the “family” of the Society and the S.E.C. Education Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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