Monday, June 14, 2010

Eulogy: Chuck Pease, Shine On You Crazy Diamond

It’s not protocol to title a eulogy, but we all know how Chuck felt about protocol. That said, this eulogy is titled, “Chuck Pease, Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”

My name is Jean Larkin, Chuck and I were very close friends. My heart goes out to all of Chuck’s Friends, His Cisco Family and His Immediate Family – Chuck’s Mother, Mrs. Anna Pease, his Sister Dorothy and Brother in-law John, his Sister Anna Maria and Brother in-law Tim, and his three Children Jamie, John and Jordan, and Jean.

I met Chuck Pease – his full name seemed to better fit his enormous personality – I met Chuck in July of 1984 when I started working at Wang Labs. I connected with Chuck immediately, as I imagine many of you did as well. He was there for me from day one. He showed me the way and served as my mentor. He was Chuck Pease, that enormous personality we all know and love.

How would I describe Chuck? Highly intelligent, principled, generous – extremely generous - magnetic, competitive, sweet, passionate, intense, chaotic, funny, fun and above all, unique. Maybe that explains why in addition, he was;
- complex, or complicated,
- compassionate, but to a fault and at his own expense,
- and, apparently tireless, but maybe, very tired.

In those early years at Wang, Chuck and I were sales partners and good friends. A year after I started working at Wang, Chuck and John Muller asked me to join them on the prestigious Johnson & Johnson Account Team. Chuck was instrumental in my success, which enabled me to transition to a career on Wall Street. We had a lot of fun at Wang. Nobody here will be surprised to know that we worked hard and played hard too. Many of his colleagues from Wang forged life-long relationships with Chuck. John Muller, Jim Maker, Diane DeCarlo, Rob Stephen, Pete Chipolone, Frank Palumbo, Jim Smith and many others. Chuck cast his net, and we were happy to be in it!

A story about one of Chuck’s greatest and earliest professional successes. Through his hard work, tenacity and perseverance – Chuck would be mad at me for crediting him and not his team – but Chuck performed a minor miracle. When at Wang, our fiercest competitor was IBM. Jim Burke, at the time J&J’s CEO was on IBM’s board, and Frank Rizzo, at the time, IBM’s Vice Chairmen, was on J&J’s board. Despite this enormous political hurdle, Chuck, and Team, were successful in selling millions of dollars of equipment to J&J. Most impressive, and credit to Chuck’s foresight for he knew, even back then, the significance of “the network,” J&J installed WangNet in their Corporate HQ in New Brunswick, NJ, which at the time, was a state of the art product. Chuck new exactly what he was doing, J&J was tied into Wang for a long time, and became one of their largest clients.

It was during these early years – 84-89 – that my wife Kim and I developed a life-long relationship with Chuck and his Family. I was honored when Chuck and Jean asked me to be Jordan’s Godfather, and I’m proud of the relationship I have with Jordan today.

In 1990 we moved-on to new careers. Chuck went to a start-up company called Cisco Systems. At the time Cisco’s top line was $25mm. We all know what happened to Cisco over the next 25 years! I’ve been reading the comments Chuck’s Friends have been posting on his website. It’s striking how similar the message and tone the comments are. I’d like to read a few samples;

- Warren Belkin wrote, “I think I can sum up Chuck’s professional philosophy in two phrases: DO WHAT’S RIGHT and GET IT DONE.”

- Eric Goralski said, “one of Chuck’s favorite phrases to describe a tough day was, Some days are diamonds, today was a rock. Tomorrow’s looking better, so let’s get back to work.”

- Elise said, “Sometimes when I was stressed out, Chuck would read me a part of an inspirational book.”

- Donovan Williams told a story about how in the face of expense restrictions, Chuck commented, “you always want to invest in your greatest asset, your people.”

- Mike Lania summed Chuck up nicely – “quite simply, Chuck breathed life into everything he did, and he brought a sense of passion to his work that was contagious.

- Bob Zebrowski posted a great story – Bob’s Father is a WWII Vet who served at Normandy and The Battle of the Bulge. Bob has shared evenings with his Father watching “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Band of Brothers.” He has often said to Bob, “Son, as you go through life you will meet a lot of people, but ask yourself, would you want to share a foxhole with them when everything is on the line?” Bob mentioned that the next time his Dad asks him that question he can look him straight in the eye and referring to Chuck, say yes Dad, I have.”

- Rob Steven posted a comment that I just had to include: “Chuck was driving a Lexus for a while because he loved the sound of the stereo – the rest of the car’s features went un-noticed!”

- After the Funeral Mass this past Monday in Rochester, one on Chuck’s HS football teammates, Phil Ferante, introduced himself to Tom Sweeney and me, and said he had a story about Chuck that he wanted us to know about. During the first quarter of a game his junior year, Chuck’s father came out of the stands and told the Head Coach to pull Chuck out of the game, because he thought Chuck was limping. Turns out, Chuck had taped a piece of wood to the inside and outside of his leg from the knee to the ankle. Unbeknownst to anyone, Chuck broke a bone in his leg in practice earlier in the week. I was both surprised, and not very, when Phil told us this story.

Leadership, passion, customer first, teamwork, recognition, loyalty, integrity and fun… Chuck Pease.

Chuck led the charge in Cisco’s early successes and in the decimation of the competition. Chuck Pease is a legend and only legends earn nicknames – Chuck came to be known as The Bagel Guy! The guy who always gave credit and recognition to the Team that supported his efforts.

Chuck Pease LOVED Cisco. He loved the people who ARE Cisco. It’s clear from the outpouring of support that those feelings are mutual. Chuck cast an enormous, generous net here at Cisco and he considered many of you – Tom (Sweeney), Christine (Rossi), James (Christopher), Nanette (Stavis), Frank (Palumbo), Pat (Finn), Matt (Smorto), Andrew (Chang), Jimmy Maker and Jim Smith – his dearest Friends.

Over the years I introduced Chuck to several of my close friends – namely, Eddie, Mark, and Josh. To no surprise my friends bonded with Chuck. Much of our relationship with Chuck centered on MUSIC. And you may have heard, Chuck Pease was passionate about music! The introduction of CD’s and the Discman were a big event in Chuck’s life. The iPod completely blew his mind! A few days ago Jordan told me he thought his Dad had 8–9 iPods. I mentioned that there were likely many more because I’m positive Chuck lost a bunch too!

Many of you may also have heard - Chuck loved concerts! We went to a lot of concerts. There was a group of us concert-goers, that we named “It’s What We Do.” And of coarse Chuck went out and had “It’s What We Do” tee Shirts” made up. Tee shirts, one of Chuck’s key bonding tools. Back in the day, one of us would buy tickets to a concert, get the date booked on everyone’s calendar, designate a time and a meeting place – not necessarily our final destination – and go to a concert or a movie of a concert! The only thing Chuck loved more than live music was the excitement of not knowing who he was going to see. Who did we see? – The Allman Brothers at The Beacon, Pink Floyd – we followed them around the east coast on more than a few of their US Tours, Traffic, Eric, Peter Gabirel, what’s remaining of Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pete Townshend, and of coarse, Tom Petty. We took Chuck to see Petty at MSG for his 50th – that was great night. One of our most memorable evenings was when we all got together, under the cloak of surprise, to watch “The Concert for George.”

So, there was work, friends and music, but through it all there was also Jamie, John and Jordan. Your well-being was foremost on Chuck’s mind. Every time, literally Every time I saw or spoke to Chuck he updated me on the three of you. There were stories – many of them funny – about skateboarding, soccer, travel soccer, Mohawk haircuts, workout techniques, cars, tattoos, hiking, rock bands you were in… There were a lot of great stories. Chuck was concerned when Jamie moved to California. OK, he was freaked out! But when John and Jordan moved out to California too, Chuck started spending more time out there.

Two years ago I suggested to Chuck that he think about moving out there. He didn’t respond. Four months ago I brought it up again and he said, “maybe, well see.” It was my intention to encourage him to do so. I think Chuck was happiest when he was with Jamie, John and Jordan.

A few years ago Chuck and I travelled to Florida to be with John Muller when his wife Pat passed away. Many times since then John mentioned to me that Chuck had been very supportive during this difficult time. Chuck sent John several books on The After Life. Chuck believed in the eternal soul. It’s comforting to know that Chuck believed and that he’s in a better place now.

The last time I spoke to Chuck was about 4 weeks ago. After about 20 minutes of Chuck telling me a funny story, he said he had to go - he was walking into a barber shop. I said, “hmmm, go figure.” He replied, “you should talk.” We had a good laugh…

So, although definitely complicated, how will I remember Chuck Pease? He was the sweetest, most generous, most passionate, funniest and most unique person I’ve ever known.
Could any of us have done more to change or save Chuck Pease? I don’t think so. Chuck Pease “was who he was,” and that’s what we loved and will remember about him.

In closing, I’d like to read the lyrics to a song Bruce Springsteen wrote for a friend of his who passed away in 2007.

Jean Larkin

Terry’s Song, Bruce Springsteen

Well they built the Titanic to be one of a kind, but many ships have ruled the seas
They built the Eiffel Tower to stand alone, but they could build another if they please
Taj Mahal, the pyramids of Egypt, are unique I suppose
But when they built you, brother, they broke the mold

Now the world is filled with many wonders under the passing sun
And sometimes something comes along and you know it's for sure the only one
The Mona Lisa, the David, the Sistine Chapel, Jesus, Mary, and Joe
And when they built you, brother, they broke the mold

When they built you, brother, they turned dust into gold
When they built you, brother, they broke the mold

They say you can't take it with you, but I think that they're wrong
'Cause all I know is I woke up this morning, and something big was gone
Gone into that dark ether where you're still young and hard and cold
Just like when they built you, brother, they broke the mold

Now your death is upon us and we'll return your ashes to the earth
And I know you'll take comfort in knowing you've been roundly blessed and cursed
But love is a power greater than death, just like the songs and stories told
And when she built you, brother, she broke the mold

That attitude's a power stronger than death, alive and burning her stone cold
When they built you, brother

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