|James S. Vogel
Jim Vogel Tribute
May 7th 2002 Tuesday
This is the day before our State Board meeting
in Madison. Called Jim to see if he was coming and get his feedback
on the agenda. No, he isn’t coming…damn. His breathing
sounded very raspy… he said he was OK but not feeling well.
To tired to come.
May 8th 2002 Wednesday
Another board meeting done! Gosh…Jim
made being President sound easy. Well… it’s not! You
are managing personalities…like herding cats!!! Called Jim
to give him a report and get some direction. ‘Someone’,
I think his father in law answered and said he was again in the
hospital. "Is he ok?"… "No" the man said,
"He has taken a turn for the worse"… "What?!"
I said. "Is the prognosis ok?"… "No" the
man reiterated! Shock! Pray for Jim.
May 9/10 2002 Thursday Friday
Not much info on Jim. Sent info out on FBO
(NAHUnet and FOR BROKERS ONLY) and to my broker list giving an update
and seeking prayers for Jim. Damn. I am very anxious. Called Linda
today… Jim was getting a pacemaker because the pneumonia is
slowly shutting down his system but doctors thought that would help.
May 11th 2002 Saturday
Called to see how Jim was doing. Great news
he had a good night!
May 12th 2002 Sunday Morning
My birthday! Mother’s day. Hope the
kids remember. Taking the "boss" out to brunch. I wonder
why brunch is a tradition for mother’s day?
Dan Schwartzer called to ask if I had seen
the email from Linda. He told me the shocking news. Jim was gone!
When, why, where, were all questions going through my mind? Lord,
why Jim? Crap!
I called most of the board. I didn’t
make it through some of the calls. Others who knew Jim for many
years were able to visit with me and provided some comfort.
Called Linda but only got voicemail. Jim was
the person on the voice mail machine and it was eerie.
A birthday to remember!! Wow a crappy Mother’s
Day for Linda! Yikes! God please comfort her…comfort that
little boy and all the kids. Jeez, they won’t understand.
Hell, I don’t understand.
Monday 13th 2002
Linda sent email saying she wasn’t answering
the phone and but she would answer emails.
I was on the phone talking with a broker about
business and noted that my hands were shaking uncontrollably. What
the hell is that? Anxiety? Fear? Grief? Lord help. And now I am
having weird dreams of Jim! The conversations in my dreams with
Jim are as real as my conversations with Tom. I even asked Jim about
a situation on the board and he provided an answer! Which solved
the problem!!! Why the dreams and what is the shaking?
Schwartzer not doing well.
Sent email to the board to have minimal contact
with the office to give Dan a break.
I will be speaking at Jim’s funeral.
What will I say? Can I do it? It is an honor.
I have tons of questions about Jim’s
death. How could this be? Why isn’t life more controllable?
What went wrong with the doctors? What lesson could God be teaching
us by taking Jim?
May 14th Tuesday
Home from work. Emails flooding in from around
the country at work today. Tons of phone calls, all day, talking
about Jim and remembering his humor and wisdom. Dan Schwartzer said
the same thing happened to him. Bynum Tuttle (President of NAHU)
and Sharon McDermott (Region 5 VP) said that the Board of Trustees
literally stopped the business of NAHU to remember Jim. Dan said
that a person sent him an email and all they said was "SHIT!!!"
Well said. What will I say at Jim’s funeral?
May 15th Wednesday
I was home with family reflecting on the day
and taking extra notice of my kids. Today, I said more I love yous
and "I sure appreciate you". I think folks think I am
nuts. Then the thought came. I will never again say, "life
is to short" without living the fact that it is. That saying
is an overused cliché, but I bet few of us actually live
like it is short. We only have today…and today I will begin
to live as if I will be leaving this earth. But what does this mean?
How can I apply this? I work too much. I don’t spend enough
time cultivating my relationship with God. I need to reconnect with
my kids and wife. Yikes…maybe it is time to mend some fences?
Should this be my theme for Jim’s eulogy?
May 16th Thursday
Worked on my speech for Jim. Funny…it
flowed into the computer as if the Lord was helping me. I hope so.
May 17th Friday
Today is the day of the funeral. The closer
I get to Green Bay the more emotionally numb I am getting. We met
several folks for lunch. Laurie Kohls wanted someone to do a toast
in remembrance of Jim…everyone she asked hesitated. I don’t
think anyone thought they would make it through a toast. Sharon
McDermott led the way and I finished. Can’t remember what
I said. Ran into Dan Schwartzer just before the funeral was to begin
and asked him how he was doing and he said, "fine" the
standard answer of those in pain.
Funny, when asked… everyone said the
same thing, "Fine". Lots of people in pain!
Here is the eulogy:
Jim Vogel Memory Speech
My name is Ric Joyner, and I am the
current President of the Wisconsin Association of Health Underwriters.
You will notice that I am not wearing a tie. I am not being disrespectful
to Jim because, Jim would not wear a tie at my funeral.
I will be reading my remarks so that
I can get through this…
I consider it a great honor to have
known Jim for the last 2 and half years. You may now be thinking…what
the heck is he doing up there…. because you have known Jim
for many more years than I?
This will be the point of my talk and
that is remembering the impact that Jim had on my life and to
ask you to not be complacent with those who are in your life now
either as a friend, lover, relative, or coworker. Whomever has
had an impact in your life, tell them what they mean to you and
tell them often…. while you can.
I met Jim about 3 years ago at a National
Association of Health Underwriters conference. He was palling
around with a brute of a person… who will remain nameless….
Don Powell. What struck me was that while Don was a bruiser…Jim
had a bruiser of an intellect. Don can rip off your arms and legs
and apparently has….
But while Jim’s intellect could
have been used to tear people down or to spar with them he used
his intelligence to help people, build them up, encourage them,
inspire them to leadership and even to accomplish things they
didn’t think they could achieve. And I am living proof.
In a nutshell, the day I spent in a NAHU leadership conference
with Jim…he became a mentor. Today I am feeling empty and
at a loss. Why? I needed him this year during my presidency. And
I need him now just like many of you. But I started to feel that
loss and emptiness when he first got sick. But I never saw this
conclusion…did you? See he, talked me into following him
and becoming president of WAHU and we talked nearly every day
for these past 2 years. He promised my presidency would be a cakewalk.
"Delegate" he would say…but when he got sick I
stopped calling and asking for help…maybe I was being respectful…or
maybe I got complacent…
The Board of Trustees of NAHU called
this week and told me that the conference calls for the association
all over the country were about Jim and remembrances. The BOT
wished me to pass this on. Jim meant a lot… to a lot of
people. Emails have come into the WAHU office from all over the
country sharing that Jim had made a difference in their lives.
And in my friendship with Jim no matter what the politics, no
matter the personalities, he kept the good of WAHU in sight. He
was definitely a giver and not a taker.
WAHU will be keeping Jim’s leadership
and foresight alive by creating a foundation in Jim’s memory.
And our annual convention in September will be a celebration of
Jim’s life. Details to come….
I am in shock as many of you are. But
this week when hearing that Jim made a turn for the worse I have
done nothing but have dreams of Jim. The dreams consisted of me
spending time with him, talking over issues, Jim giving me feedback
and just hanging out. He was really good at hanging out! I actually
solved several problems with his help! Have any of you experienced
this? The dreams were very comforting to me but troubling too.
Why, they were troubling is a question I posed to the Lord and
I felt His response to me was that I should not be complacent
in my relationships and that Jim was still with me in memory.
People like Jim are rare and that makes our collective loss even
So in closing, since Jim is with us,
I wish to tell him a thing or two…. "Jim you made a
huge difference in my life and I am grateful that God allowed
us to be friends. Jim, I will take what you have taught me and
apply it all the while giving you credit and I will not be complacent
in my relationships…. Thanks Jim"
And to the children…you truly
had a great man for a father! You are feeling a terrible loss
but remember one thing that is very comforting. I had many troubles
with my dad and didn’t get along with him. One day the Lord
said to me while in a boat fishing with my dad…."see
that man in the front of the boat?" I said "yes"
and then I felt God speak again and say "I am your real father…I
just used your dad to get you here" Funny…. my relationship
with my dad improved. And so it is with your loss…but your
real father from heaven is here to comfort you.
A human resource manager
once said, "Everyone can be replaced". Not Jim Vogel.
He was a brilliant individual and leader who cared deeply to make
a difference in the lives of brokers, his friends, family and those
he touched. His talent will be missed and the board of directors
of WAHU hopes to set up a fund/foundation in Jim’s memory.
The fund’s purpose will be education.
So if there is a lesson to be learned…
it is love and continually forgive those in your circle of influence.
DO NOT BE COMPLACENT WITH YOUR RELATIONSHIPS. Call that friend now
and don’t procrastinate. Call one person today and thank them
for what they have meant to you. Do this everyday. Volunteer in
WAHU to keep Jim’s vision growing. We need your help.