If a man’s life is defined by the profound sorrow felt by countless people by his passing, then he is a legend. You my friend, are among those few. Your legacy is captured by the thousands of people who have already recorded their sadness and their stories about you. I am certain that more will do the same as their grief is turned into words that define how you impacted their lives.

I miss you. We miss you. You were way to young for this to happen. I will never understand why someone with so much to give is taken from us long before what should be his time.

Do you remember the financial meetings we used to have as store managers? You were at store 1 and I was at Aurora Village, very young in my role, and it was my turn to host the meeting. To say I was nervous would be putting it mildly. The meeting was to begin at 8:00 and I arrived at 6:30. I checked figures and then went to the floor. You were already walking my store! You had compiled your mental list of things needed to be done and I wrote them down as fast as I could write. Aurora had the worst of the worst in fixtures with few of them having wheels. You told me that I needed to put wheels on all the fixtures. I recall thinking my budget (freshly reviewed) had little money in it and how I could afford to do this. Would it really make a difference in my business? When I asked you, you smiled, dipped your head (which I later learned meant ‘wrong answer’) and said “this isn’t for your business, this is for your team. This will make their job easier and that’s your job!” Two days later when our truck arrived, it was filled with fixtures and wheels from you and store 1. They weren’t new fixtures, but golden to us at Aurora. Fixtures and wheels were added department by department. The team was energized by this project and excited to EASILY remerchandise their floors. The excitement was felt by all and lo and behold, our business did get better!

That was my very first lesson I learned from you with so many more to come. Move mountains for your team, make their jobs better and they in turn will take better care of each other and the customer.

During that same visit was my second lesson. We mean it when we say ‘act as though you own the place.’ All I wanted at the time was to have bigger increases than you! All you wanted was to help me be a stronger leader to support the goals of the company. Competition is good. Sharing what you know to lift everyone you support or compete with is even better.

As I have thought about you these past several days, I could fill a book with what you taught me and all of your Blakeism’s. Your compassion for others, your passion for the business, your core values that never wavered and stood the test of time. You inspired us all to improve. You set the tone and the pace for so many of us and I must say that trying to keep up with you was not for the faint of heart.

I miss you. We all miss you. We will remember all that you taught us, the example that you set and will carry you with us throughout our lives. We will keep your spirit alive by sharing our stories about you, by striving to emulate you and recalling the passion with which you lived your life. This is the legacy that you earned. This is the legacy that we were all blessed to be touched by. This is a legacy unparalleled that will never be forgotten.

With Love and Great Respect,
KC Shaffer

KC Shaffer