In last week’s column I wrote of how, in the face of our being required to practice social distancing due to the coronavirus, we have been becoming more distant socially in the modern era for quite some time now.
I have met three living legends in the insurance and financial planning profession in my time. And each encounter came under very different circumstances.
Many years ago, I made an after-dinner speaking presentation at a Methodist church in Murfreesboro. The occasion was a Saturday evening Valentine’s banquet. It was a modest crowd in size, but not in enthusiasm. I don’t remember anyone in particular I met after the speech that evening, but I shall never forget the letter I received on the following Tuesday.
In describing my speech, the writer of the letter used a number of superlatives. The one I remember in particular was “stupendous.” Never before, nor since, has anyone used that word to describe one of my speeches. The gentleman went on to invite me to have lunch with him in Murfreesboro. His name was Tommy Martin. I took him up on his offer.
Prior to our lunch meeting I found that Mr. Tommy Martin was a living legend with the New York Life Insurance Company. When we met, I found him to be one of the more engaging personalities I have ever encountered. At the same time, I found him to be a little quirky, but he used it to great advantage. In a word, he was unforgettable.
I was in Murfreesboro recently, and I was not surprised to see a major thoroughfare named “Tommy Martin Drive.”
Early in my professional career, I heard of a man named Jack B. Turner from Clarksville. I’m not sure where I heard it, what I heard of him, or from whom I heard it. It was one of those pieces of information you simply tuck away in the folds of your mind.
Many years later, I was taking an LUTC (Life Underwriting Training Council) course in Nashville where I befriended two young professional women. One day as we talked, I mentioned an estate planning case on which I was working.
“You need to meet our boss!” one of the women said.
“And who is your boss?” I asked.
“Jack B. Turner,” she replied.
“I’ve heard of him,” I thought.
“I’ll arrange for you to have lunch with him,” she offered.
I had lunch with Jack B. Turner on a spring morning at the Shoney’s restaurant (It’s not there anymore.) on Trinity Lane in Nashville. From the moment I first met him, I was struck by his intensity. I found him to be very professional, intelligent, inquisitive, and one who laughed easily. In less than 90 minutes we formed the foundation of a friendship that has only deepened through the years.
A few years after I met Mr. Turner, I read an interesting and thought-provoking booklet, titled You Have to Talk Life before You Talk Life Insurance written by Lester A. Rosen, CLU. One day I mentioned to the booklet to Mr. Turner.
“You need to meet Lester Rosen!” he advised. (I have learned when a living legend suggests you do something, you do it.)
So, I contacted Mr. Rosen to make an appointment to see him. (Of course, I dropped a few names in our initial conversation so he would know I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.) He was very gracious and agreed to see me.
On a spring day I drove to Memphis to meet Lester A. Rosen. Prior to my arrival, I had already learned he was a transplanted New Yorker of German-Polish descent; and he had made himself a living legend with the Union Central Life Insurance Company. I was not to be disappointed.
Mr. Rosen was in his mid-80s when I met him. He was warm and gracious in his demeanor; one of the more disarming individuals I have ever met. We talked for well over an hour.
When I prepared to leave that day, he walked me to the door. Being right-handed he walked on my left side as we approached the office door. Just before I turned to thank him one last time for seeing me, he reached and placed his right hand softly on my right shoulder. His touch was as natural as breathing. And, for a few fleeting seconds, I was afforded the privilege of experiencing the warmth of his humanity. It was unforgettable.
In meeting and getting to know each of these extraordinary individuals it was necessary that I “be there” in person. There are so very many nuances of the human personality which can only be sensed and experienced by interacting on a personal level.
Unfortunately, it is becoming more obvious by the day that technology along with other forces is driving us, as human beings, farther apart.
I believe it was Socrates who said, “Man by nature is a social animal.”
But now, Dr. Fauci is advising we should no longer shake hands.
Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a “Certified Speaking Professional.” Copyright 2020 by Jack McCall.