Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement


Why I Won't Be Meeting Barry Trowbridge for Coffee Tomorrow

Instead of having coffee with Barry Trowbridge tomorrow night, I will be at his funeral. He's dead.

That's him on the left, swiped from his Facebook profile. He was that happy in real life, not just when getting his picture taken during a road race.

Who is Barry? Right now, I don't know. He's with God, and I don't know how to describe this. Is he singing? Running? Eating all the foods he denied himself as he fought obesity with regulated discipline? I honestly don't think any if those things are true, but given that I'm here on Earth, I don't have a keen view of what our life in Heaven looks like. Whatever it is like, Barry is not disappointed. He sees the face of his savior.

The Barry I knew through Friday was the kind of guy I want to be. He had a corporate job, but was not settled in the cushioned lifestyle. He knew what he was given, and worked hard to give it back. He was upbeat, passionate and joyful, and not satisfied with watching others do the work. His faith in Christ drove him to live well.

When the doctor said he needed to shape up or die, he took this seriously. He lost 60 lbs, at least, and was on his way to not just lose more weight, but become fitter. He ran and ate smarter.

As he was new to running road races, with just a few 5Ks under his belt, we talked about the joy of hitting the synchronicity of pace and fitness. His times were slow. His race last week was at 11:59/mile pace. Barry ran with no delusions, and, like me, raced because of the love and inspiration of running with others. We talked about getting together this week or next to run.

We shared a few tips about running music for iPods.

I saw him Friday. At our church, Barry was an instrumental lay leader in our men's ministry. We talked about me taking on the communications aspect of things. My first meeting with our leadership team was at 6:30, and ended around 8:00 am. When I got home, as he promised, I received an e-mail for an invite on my Google calendar to meet for coffee and discussion about the technical side of transitioning the responsibilities. This meant passwords and that kind of thing.

It is still on my calendar. I don't have the heart to remove it. 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm, at the coffeehouse on Roosevelt and Main.

Barry Trowbridge died Saturday morning at around 9:00 am on his way home from running. I don't know if he ran a road race. At that time, I was finishing my duties helping cheer on runners at the fundraising 5K/10K for PADS Dupage. Barry apparently had a heart attack, passed out and crashed his car on Butterfield Road.

The last thing I said to him was a silly thought on his Facebook page Friday at 3:39 pm. His status said through his cell phone, "Barry Trowbridge needs to remind himself that double bogeys are always better than triple bogeys...." I responded with a comment about how many children the Bogart family might have at once, "Mrs. Bogart was content, don't you agree, with just one Bogey at a time?" It wasn't very funny. He did not reply.

His last status update was at 11:15 pm Friday night when he posted a link to his most recent blog post (see links below).

There is no cool spin to put on this. I didn't lose a longtime friend. I was only getting to know the guy. He knew a great number of people better than me. We had maybe five or six conversations. One good one on the phone. One good one over coffee. We connected well. We looked at life, work, God, running, family in a similar way. And lots of plans about getting together. I miss the friend I never really got to know.

He was 43. I just turned 43. I can do the math.

Right now, as our nation argues about the health care issue, we cannot ignore what Barry learned the hard way: health care starts with being healthy always. Some readers of this blog do not exercise, play around with diabetes, eat too much, smoke, drink and make excuses about it. Barry looked at his reality and made bold changes, but he knew well he was not out of the woods.

I'm likely much healthier than Barry probably ever had been, but anything can happen. I'm looking to set an appointment with my general physician soon and get a check up.

There's no good way to end a post like this.

RIP Barry Trowbridge. You finished well.
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