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James S. Vogel Memorial Scholarship
Robert C. Gilray Award
A Celebration of the Life: 1959 - 2002

James S. Vogel


Jim Vogel Tribute

Journal Entries:

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?

Sunday night

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 more difficult.

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.

Thank 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.

Ric Joyner, CFCI
Past President


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