Life goes fast. It is so important to remember that, and to rejoice in every day. Life should be lived to the fullest, friends should be treasured, and every day should be celebrated. Good people help to make our journey through life all the better.
This picture was taken at the Field to Table Dinner at Franklin Park Conservatory last September. 2011 was the third year for this event that celebrates agriculture in our community. Franklin County Farm Bureau serves as a sponsor for the dinner, and I had the pleasure of attending the event with several of my fellow board members from the county. The gardens were beautiful, the food was delicious, and the company was wonderful as we dined under the stars! In particular, I remember the moment this photo was taken. On the right is Angie, my "sister-in-slaughter". In the middle is our friend Jeff. Jeff was his usual convivial and fun-loving self that night! Jeff & Angie both happened to be wearing purple, and as we proceeded to the dinner tables after cocktail hour, he cavalierly offered his arm to Angie so they could walk to dinner together in all their purple glory! Our group was seated next to several executives from Battelle that evening, and I recall fondly what a great adventure we had! This night has been at the forefront of my mind for the past ten days, since my friend Jeff passed on. It was such a happy, lighthearted evening of celebration -- and I was blessed to share it with people I care so much about.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Jeff during the time we served together on the Franklin County Farm Bureau board. He was a hard worker, with firm opinions, but ready to learn new things. Jeff was dedicated to assisting young people through his efforts to promote the county fair and the state fair. He was ever-present during 4-H events at our county fair, helping his own children and others. Jeff was full of life, with a hearty laugh. He was the senior member of our young farmer group, and always added to our discussions. I had a great deal of respect for the fact that you always knew where you stood with Jeff, and especially that -- even when he disagreed with me on a principle or questioned a decision I made as county president -- he could state his opinion clearly without ever compromising our friendship. Jeff's greatest achievement is his family: he has three amazing children. They are intelligent and hard-working like their father, and are a true credit to him.
Jeff's family indicated that he did not care for flowers at funerals. They asked that donations be made to the Franklin County Farm Bureau on his behalf. That board recently met, and is discussing ways to honor Jeff. At the last board meeting that Jeff attended, his final action as a board member was to move to make a donation of $1000 to help build a tilapia pond at an orphanage in Kenya that Franklin County Farm Bureau has supported over the years. It is the hope of the board members to have a plaque placed at this pond, naming it in honor of Jeff. In addition, the board members are considering ways to honor Jeff at the county fair. I hope this will include bidding on the market animals of his children during the livestock auction. And bidding. And bidding.