I had the honor of attending a party celebrating Don Moreau’s 20th birthday this past Friday. Don is a “leaper.” It was his 20th February 29. If you count the years since the day he was born on February 29, 1928 he was turning 80.
I did not know Don before the event. His daughter-in-law is one of my son’s (Kyle) teachers. My other son (Tim) did his Eagle project in support of HVAF, one of Don’s favorite charities, so there are a couple of degrees of separation between us.
Sue and I went to the event to show support for HVAF and Don. What I came away with was appreciation for a man that will stay with me for a long time.
Don volunteered for the Navy on this 17th birthday in 1945 then spent over 27 years in the Navy then the Army retiring as a full Colonel. Over the course of his military career he participated in World War II, the Korean War and the conflict in Vietnam. After his retirement he settled in Indiana and worked for and with five Indiana governors (both Republican and Democrat). He was in charge of the Indiana Toll Road and the Indiana State Fair for a time. He was the project director to build a monument to honor the Indiana natives that died in Korea and Vietnam. He was the president of HVAF, an organization supporting homeless Hoosier veterans during a critical time in the organization’s existence.
The master of ceremonies was Joe Kernan, a former Indiana governor. One of Don’s men from Vietnam, Governor Bob Orr’s widow, Don’s cardiologist, the current director of the Indiana State Fair, one of Don’s granddaughters, a state senator, a representative of the current Indiana governor, a representative of the mayor of Indianapolis and finally Don’s son Bill all gave short speeches about Don and what he meant to them.
The common theme was Don stood for integrity, love of family and friends and hard work. Don saw good in everything (every room full of manure had a pony somewhere). Everyone mentioned that Don’s energy and “can do” attitude was contagious. People around him performed better because of him and they were there to thank him.
Finally all the tributes were done. Bill (his son) announced that food was being served and thanked everyone for coming.
They were not going to let Don say anything …………… (I guess they were worried that the crowd would die of hunger – Don was not short on words)
Don stood up; he had been sitting on a chair on the stage, and began to address the crowd. “I don’t need a microphone,” he said, “Can you all hear me.” Of course everyone laughed. Don is at least 6 foot 6 inches and has a booming voice. I want to thank God for getting me here he said. Then this gentleman of numerous talents paused, looked over all of us and said I just want to thank you. I could never have accomplished anything if it hadn’t been for you. (I don’t know if those were his exact words but that was the intent). I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place.
Special mentors of mine throughout my life have told me to study people you admire, find out what makes them tick and copy them.
In this age when the news is filled with politicians trying to destroy each other, businessmen treating colleagues like Donald Trump treats interns and many people feeling teamwork is more about being a survivor than finding a win/win solution I find it nice to know that Don Moreau and people like him still exist.
Happy Birthday Don. I hope I am invited to your 25th birthday.
Until next time – All the best!