By Scott Westerman
The elements that so mix to create the tapestry of words and deeds that reveal our character are the creations of many artists. If we are lucky, there are singular people who come into our lives at just the right moment, guiding our adventures in the direction of excellence.
In my life, one of those amazing individuals was Don Herro. My first impressions of the man were reflected through the prism of his children. Inclusive, magnanimous, focused and fun, they welcomed me quickly into the family. I saw it happen to many others, too. When you were at the Herro’s, it immediately felt like home.
With Don, you were always the center of attention. He greeted you with a smile and a handshake that telegraphed acceptance. He was fascinated by your story and you got the sense that you were the most important person in the room.
It was later that I learned that these elements were central to the achievements of a brilliant business man. You expect successful people to wear status on their sleeve. Don never did. For him, the ins and outs of leading a customer focused team were a fascinating puzzle to be solved. When things went well, he praised the team. I never knew if they didn’t because Don always had faith in a positive outcome and radiated confidence and humility at every turn.
Don knew sorrow and loss. The passing of our years bring us both frustration and joy. But he never lost his resilient spirit. If retirement had any disadvantage for Don, it was the fact that it was harder for him to roll up his sleeves and jump into the fray to solve the world’s problems. But I will always remember him as a man for whom each challenge faded with the setting sun and each new day dawned with fresh opportunity.
The most important thing to Don was family and he was quick to extend the definition to the teams he served and to the dozens of friends he picked up along the way. He epitomized one of my favorite maxims, “Strangers are only friends we haven’t met yet.”
Perhaps the most important lesson Don taught us was to pay it forward. He modeled self sufficiency and the Midwestern work ethic. And he helped us learn to fly without a wingman, even though we always knew he would instantly be by our side in time of need.
His passing leaves a huge hole in our hearts. But Don Herro taught us well. Even though he has shed a body that no longer could contain his spirit, that spirit still flies beside us. Don Herro’s essence is indelibly etched into the tapestries of the people we are becoming. We have the potential to be his living legacy. That certainty is cause for celebration and will continue to comfort us and inspire us to be the best we can be.
And to pass it on.