Dear Mr. Jones,
I wanted to thank you one more time for everything you did for me when we were in South Florida trying to discern where the Signature Revolution should relocate to – between Nashville, Orlando, and Louisville.
It was a hard decision for me and our entire organization and many did not reach out like I hoped but you definitely did. When you called me, each time telling me why Louisville would be the best place for Signature HealthCARE, you were right. Our talks about how we could do more here than any other city held true!
Your advice was invaluable to our final decision and all that has transpired since. In that relocation process you promised me that you would meet with me regularly to be my mentor, to help me grow as a person, and help Signature navigate the complicated healthcare landscape.
The mentoring sessions were the ‘best one-hour sessions’ I ever had with anyone. You always started each session with a discussion on how to lead with integrity and faith.
I remember when you pulled your own “personal Peter Drucker notes” to show me management principles to implement into the Revolution that you knew we needed. And we put them all to good use.
The other sessions where you would go into your archives and show me your market segmentation notes from yours and Wendall’s prior working sessions decades back, helped Signature greatly see other ways to operate the organization.
Every complicated question I ever asked you, I was secretly hoping one time I might stump you, but that never happened because you always had the perfect answer that sometimes I had to unpack later.
The private discussions where you gave me personal advice about life resonated often in my own challenges, but they always held true. You were never easy on me, which made me re-examine closely held beliefs either way, so I knew where I stood.
Thank you for sharing your life principles with me every time on “how to live a meaningful faith-led happy life.” They are the true foundation to our optimal state here while we serve others. They are sometimes challenging to live by, but they helped me greatly even in my darkest hour.
I think what I loved most was that we always closed each session with a prayer just to remind both of us who was really in charge anyway.
My admiration started a very long time ago. When I was a very young entrepreneur struggling to try to find my way, you were the gold standard to me and hundreds of others around our great city. We thank you for making us all think bigger than ourselves, which we all needed, or we would have never found the path.
Your great impact on me was just one small thing you did of the thousands and thousands of great deeds because you did so much for everyone that ever asked for your help. In my opinion, your generosity and humility are unmatched!
As the whole city grieves today, and I know my thank you note is just one of a million, we all want you and your family to know how grateful we all feel about your relationship with all of us.
Lastly, I needed to remember what you said often about everyone being more Jeffersonian and giving back to your community at all times. We can still see you and feel your presence everywhere we look.
Thank you, Mr. Jones, for teaching us all how to “pay it forward” and inspire all of us to try to be the best our version of ourselves!
Losing a Great One is Never Easy!
Prior to COVID, I think we all felt like we spent more time with work, work partners and peers than our own families. Was it good or bad? For me, I worked with some of the most talented people in the country, so I loved it. And obviously I love my family too! I had the blessing to work with a friend, brother, Savant, Mensa member, and so much more for nearly a decade and a half – Stephen Stocksdale. To say he was talented with an amazing range is honestly a great understatement in a world full of the opposite. Stephen did so much intellectually, professionally, and personally that for the first three years of working with him, I assumed it “all could not be true”. But time and time again I learned the opposite was true. He served our mission-based organization in every role (field leader, controller, administrator, VP, strategy, consultant, start-ups, etc.) and whatever else we asked of him. Despite having more professional success himself, he just wanted to help us grow in all ways.
One day 5 ½ years ago, Stephen was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we grieved with him as you would expect. But he was a determined guy and decided to not just learn all he could about cancer, but to master it. He decided there had to be a path he could carve out for himself that no doctor had considered, or he would locate new research that would help him beat it. With a scientific mind and unparalleled IQ, he found a clinical trial he was approved to get in. This trial’s treatment regimen was so potent, and Stephen was the only one that survived. He learned about transfusions, blood structures, and cancer interventions. Cancer kicked his ass often, but he always beat it back up and won again!
We cheered, prayed, and cried often over the past years, but learned three great lessons from Stephen that we all cherish today:
- “Be a Lifelong Learner” because we can always master new things and age is just a number, but lifelong learners never get old. Stephen mastered EMT services, police work, cancer research, hospital administration, heart transplant programs, high level statistical methods, travel, long term care, teaching, and many other degrees, certifications, and accomplishments over 65 years, so let’s all keep Learning and keep growing!
- “Never Give Up” because we grow everyone around us in our struggles and sufferings in ways that impact everyone around us and Stephen knew that and wanted us to get stronger, be more grateful and relearn presence, which we all did! When he came back home, he rarely missed a day at the office and taught all of us new things daily up until the moment he passed last week.
- “GOD IS SO REAL” Stephen had historical expertise on religions, studied theological premises, and had a metaphysical outlook, but in this battle, he felt like he met the Lord and had to share it with all of us. He knew he beat something that is nearly unbeatable, and he wanted time to share his story, his walk, and his private time with the Lord. He watched prayer groups with people he barely knew praying 24/7 that he receives a miracle, and he did receive one that he could share with all of us.
Our organization is going through a very painful time as a mid-size nursing home organization that has stakeholders who worked under unbelievable stress and pressure for so long and had to endure seeing some of our residents pass away. We have lost half of our team, and we are still trying to rebuild stronger and better. I think after serving through the pandemic for 2 ½ years and struggling with how to bring it all back together in this changing workplace and overworked healthcare system, and after suffering so much pulsating unknowns for so long, it was Stephen who gave us the best reason to not look back. He taught us to enjoy the struggle as something that can deepen us all and stay prayerful that God is with us during times like these. We need to rebuild and have new passion as learners, which Stephen demonstrated everyday making our lift just a little easier. And lastly, when you beat cancer four times and die from something else, how could we ever give up? It’s time for us to just “STOCKSDALE IT” and grow by learning, fighting harder and believing in our purpose!
Stephen’s office will remain untouched for now because when he left work on Monday with his ambitious assignments on his wall, we never knew we would not see him again. However, we can certainly feel his presence and we are all better people for his amazing lessons that he taught us until his last hour!