Later in life, you begin losing friends with what seems like disconcerting frequency. Often you haven’t seen them in a while when you find out about their passing. That becomes even more difficult because attendant with the sorrow, memories begin flooding back and, in some special cases, you realize the friendship was a life-changing experience.
On October 12, 2016, aboard the Cunard Queen Mary 2 in the mid-Atlantic, the ship’s social director, Tommi Baxter-Hill, led my wife, Candy, and me to a special crew area near the stern of the ship. It was a somber moment for us. Joe Scott – my former business partner, a talented writer, author and above all a dear friend – had died in September 2016. Symbolically, his wife, Priscilla, had introduced us to Cunard and the transatlantic crossings, when she was VP of the company’s public relations in the 1990s. The memorial service for Joe was scheduled to occur while Candy and I were on our crossing, so we could not be there. Cunard made special arrangements for us to take part in absentia. On this, the date and during the time of the memorial near his home in Delaware, we said words to honor Joe, then each tossed a rose overboard. I always described Joe as the person you’d want in the foxhole with you. There was no way he would not have your back.
I first met Don Bain in 1971, when he was contracted by American Airlines’ hotel division, where I was working, to help with a PR project that was beyond the capabilities of our small staff. Don got the assignment because he had worked in PR for American before he left to begin writing books. I knew him only by his reputation as a best-selling author. I was a young writer, with aspirations of following a path similar to the one Don had taken, but I had few creds, working full time at American and trying to establish a writing career in my free time. Despite the huge success gap, Don always treated me as a colleague, always valued my opinions equally with his own. His death on October 21, 2017 ended 46 years of our friendship. During that period, we collaborated on many projects. Nonetheless, I always considered him my benevolent mentor as well as my dear friend. His humanity was always front and center. By the time of his death at 82, he had written more than 100 books. Of all the successful people I have ever met, Don was the person least affected by his great success. A warm-hearted man, he was considered family by the members of mine. My daughters will each tell you they miss his hugs most of all. I miss everything about him.
Ave atque vale, Don and Joe, the world is lessened by your leaving. Natural Traveler is dedicated to your memories. You each would have found it a welcoming home for your art.