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The Legend Lives On

My father-in-law, founder of the Dunham Company, died yesterday.

I know some people have tenacious relationships with their in-laws, but that was not the case between Don (Donald Dunham, Jr.) and I. Don was a second father to me. I respected him. I admired him. I trusted him. I loved him. And I cannot believe he is gone.

You know that feeling you have when you finish watching a movie that had a really crappy ending?  That’s how I feel. The movie was great…right until the end.

Don had a personality so big it could fill a stadium. When he was in the room, you knew he was in the room! He was filled with optimism and a lust for life that I had never known, and that I could only cautiously appreciate, as one appreciates the warmth from the rays of the sun but doesn’t get too close for fear of being burned by the heat of the sun itself.

Don didn’t use e-mail or have a computer on his desk, but he taught me so much. When he talked, I paid attention. I listened.  Don was the first person I’d known so well for so long who was truly a self- made man.  He worked his butt off, took risks – sometimes admittedly “crazy” ones – that paid off, surrounded himself with experts and built a team, and charged through life on his own terms.

Oh sure, he had his losses. He had his mistakes. He could love life a little too much sometimes.

But he lived. He lived with gusto. He lived fearlessly. He teased every last drop of life out of each and every day.

And his life serves as a reminder that it’s up to us to live our lives. We care too deeply about things over which we have no control. We don’t say what we feel. We pressure ourselves to be the best employee, parent, spouse, son or daughter, friend, whatever.  Better, harder, faster becomes our motto.

And in the meantime, we forget to live. We forget all of the old sayings about life being a journey not a destination, and how you should end life sliding into home base completely used up, and how you’re supposed to stop and smell the roses.

We forget it’s all about the people. The relationships you build. The memories you make. The happiness you evoke in others.

Helping each other through the ups and downs.  Growing together.  Laughing together.  And crying together.

You know, living.

Donald A Dunham , Jr. was a remarkable man. He built a great company, one that I am proud to be a part of, alongside my husband Jim and our daughter Ashley.  Dunham Company is not only a company, but a legacy. And like all legacies should, Don’s legacy will continue on.

Goodbye Don. You will always be loved. You will always be missed. Your star will always shine bright.

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