I attended a celebration of life for Gene Winther on September 19th and came away with a greater appreciation for life and for the simple pleasures that make life worth living. Gene was 84 years old and he loved his job and loved to work. As a matter of fact at his last staffing we talked to Gene about retiring and he got very upset making it quite clear that he wanted to work and indeed that is what he did. Excited about his forthcoming trip to the San Juan’s with his bud Jack, Gene worked on Thursday prior to heading up to Seattle for the boat trip to Friday Harbor where he became ill. To be honest I didn’t have a lot of contact with Gene at the work site these last few years. I basically saw him at our picnic or holiday celebration. I do remember him greeting me when I visited him at work with his huge smile, shaking my hand and continuing on with his job, having met his social responsibility as quickly as possible but anxious to get back to work. According to those who gave an account of his life prior to my knowing him he led an extraordinary life, quite simply summed up as a cheerful giver.
During this service attended by 65 of his friends from programs such as Kokua, South Sound Options and Morningside many spoke of their friendship and love for the man who “worked hard all his life” who was a “friend of Morningside” and loved by all. The stories about Gene often included his friend Jack and many commented on how content he was with seemingly nothing but remembering that Gene said “I have it all… my friends and my work”. I was moved by many of those who spoke. One woman spoke of having a particular bad day and rushed to work all harried and a bit on edge. Gene asked her why she was out of sorts and she said she was having a bad day and he asked her why was that and how did that feel because he didn’t’ know what that felt like because according to him he never had a bad day in his life. Gene was a client of ours since 1967! For his 43 years at Morningside Gene’s desire was to work and enjoy life. We will miss you Gene.
CEO Viewpoint is published by Jim Larson, CEO Morningside
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