The Shapers – My Friend Len

Shapers. We all have people in our lives who influence us. Some directly, some by request, and some so subtly we may not realize it . We choose, ultimately, those who we wish to borrow from and those we wish to learn from. In over 20,000 days I’ve been influenced by hundreds, perhaps thousands. But there are some who are more significant than others.

I first met Len when we both accepted jobs in a new plant our company was building in Mississippi. He had moved his family from upstate New York, and I was single and moved for the first time from northern Ohio. We were together responsible for the training, in particular the technical training, of all employees in this new manufacturing plant.

Len makes friends with ease.

To say he was skeptical, being stuck with this wet-behind-the-ears engineer to help him would be an understatement. But we quickly learned we had far more in common when it comes to technical understanding and approaches to training employees than we would have guessed, and we became not only a great team at work, but tennis buddies and good friends as well. I enjoyed many evenings in the warm home that he and his wife Bonnie openly shared. Their two sons and Bonnie’s mom lived with them, and I felt like I was with family whenever I walked through the door.

Our careers took us to different places, but we had the great fortune of working together at two other locations before he retired and our time together as co-workers came to an end.

In between our first two assignments, I met and married Barbara,  and I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to introduce her to Bonnie and Len. They embraced Barbara as though they had known her forever, and for several years in Kentucky we did many things together. They not only became an important part of our life at that time, but when Barbara’s mom came to visit, and eventually live part-time with us, they treated her as a long-lost friend as well. I remember answering the phone when Bon or Len called and they would say “Hi, is mom there?” Yep. I was now secondary!

We worked together again in Mobile, Alabama, and we all picked up right where we left off, and of course they were able to spend even more time with Barb’s mom!

Len, Mom and Bonnie, 2004

I learned a lot from Len.

  • Commitment is not a question. Do your work, honor your spouse, and do good.
  • No problem is unsolvable.
  • With technology, there’s no mystery, you can figure it out.
  • Love your children, no matter what.
  • Take care of family.
  • Speak your mind.
  • Take people at their word. Trust them until they prove otherwise.
  • Spoil your grandchildren.
  • Love your friends.
  • Enjoy your life.

Len has almost 5,000 days on me, and I thank him for sharing his life, his family, and his love with me and my family.

We love you Len, Happy Birthday!



3 Responses to The Shapers – My Friend Len
  1. BarbaraNo Gravatar
    March 30, 2012 | 8:46 am

    May you share many, many more days!

    Happy Birthday, Len!


  2. Pat AldenNo Gravatar
    March 30, 2012 | 3:54 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to both Len & Bonnie. Happy Birthday Len. Bonnie & I have been friends for 63 years. We meet when we were four years old. She has may me laugh for all those years. I love her like a sister. Bonnie definitely meet her soul mate. Both warm & happy people. Love you both.


  3. Tom QuattrocchiNo Gravatar
    March 30, 2012 | 6:24 pm

    Happy birthday buddy how the years fly by, I hope some day we see each other in person rather than just talk by email. In a couple weeks I will have one to, and my grand daughter says to me are you still going to look the same? Out of te mouth of babes. Say hello to Bonnie for me, and have a super day.


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