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Sometimes in our life, we have been told by a parent, grandparent, teacher, coach, mentor, youth leader, priest, pastor, rabbi, preacher or a friend “to make sure you surround yourself with good people.”  Those of us that are now parents have probably said it a time or two to our children.  I know my wife and I have on more than one occasion said these words to our two kids.

Recently though I have discovered a next level to this life concept and it took the passing of a colleague and dear friend for me to see that good people are important to surround yourself with but just as important is to sprinkle in a few great people in your life.

Almost twenty-five years ago, two giants at Duke, Dr. Charles Putnam and Al Buehler, had an idea that two young men they both knew had the potential to form a partnership that could have a positive impact on the students and staff at Duke.  That was my introduction to Greg A. Dale, Ph.D. 

Greg was Texas tough in his battle against cancer, had an ambition to help others as wide and beautiful as the Alaskan horizon and a compassion and caring nature as gentle as a North Carolina breeze.  They say that friends are the ones you can count on, the ones who don’t ask for anything in return, the ones who will be there in good and bad times; that was Greg’s way of life.  He had such a positive impact on so many people both at Duke and outside of Duke.  Those of us that knew him in whatever capacity are better for having known him. 

For me, I will remember the many conversations about our families, our classes, our many leadership projects together and the endless support we gave to each other.  I will miss my friend.  His memory will forever be in my heart and mind.  I know that I am a better man because of him.  His passing has taught me that beyond surrounding yourself with good people you also need to have a couple of great people in your life.  Greg was and will continue to be a great person in my life.

Image Credit: Duke Athletics on Twitter

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