Jack Scott (1942 – 2021) – A Tribute
My long-time mentor and dear friend, Jack Scott passed away in April. I was honored to offer a eulogy at his memorial service recently, and I want to share what I said with you, my clients, friends, and colleagues. Some of you knew Jack; some of you have at least heard about Jack; and for others this will be an introduction. I want to share it for a couple of reasons. First, he was a remarkable man with a life worth emulating and certainly worthy of a tribute. Second, if you have interacted with me and/or Jackson & Associates, Inc. over the last 10 years, then your life has also been impacted by Jack.
Jack Scott was a giant of a man. I knew Jack my whole life. He used to like to tell me that he remembers the day when he was sitting at his desk and got the phone call from my dad announcing my birth. He and my dad were best friends.
I must tell part of my story to share what I want to share about Jack. A little over 10 years ago I had moved back to Albuquerque with the intention of joining my dad in his business, but he passed away before I had officially stepped in. This left a lot of things up in the air, and my stepmom encouraged me to contact Jack to seek his advice. Jack had a long, accomplished career as an executive with Lincoln Financial and in building and running his own firm with offices in Albuquerque and Arizona. We met at a Starbucks. I remember exactly where we sat – that meeting was a big part of a turning point in my life, and it was the beginning of a mentoring relationship and friendship that lasted more than 10 years. Jack was a true and loyal friend. I’m not aware of any conversation between him and my dad requesting that Jack help me, but he didn’t need to be asked.
There are too many things to mention in terms of what I learned from Jack about business, working with people, and life in general, but I’ll mention a few.
Jack’s optimism was contagious. I’d come to him with a problem or challenge and always leave with a sense of “I can do this”. It wasn’t a “ra ra” or “don’t worry, be happy” kind of optimism. It was more of a “let’s roll up our sleeves, work the problem, and come up with the best solution” kind of optimism. Once we had done that, he would give me a clear “you got this”. Not those exact words, but that sense of things. I always thought that if Jack Scott thinks I’ve got this, then it must be true.
He had a unique ability to get you moving in the right direction without telling you what to do. He was a master at asking the right questions. I would come to him looking for advice and was typically met with “well, let’s think about this…”. Then he would lead me down this path of “self-discovering” the solution or direction to go in. I’d think back on the conversation and realize that he knew the answer, and it would have been so much easier to just tell me. But he didn’t care about making it easy. He cared about me, and about helping me become a better thinker and problem solver.
Of course, Jack could also be direct and plain spoken. A few years ago, we got together for lunch after I hadn’t seen him for several weeks. Over that time, I had decided to shave my beard. I expected a comment from Jack, but we ate lunch, visited, and headed for our cars with nothing said. When we got outside, he said, “don’t think I didn’t notice that something happened to your beard… your dad did that once and I’ll tell you the same thing I told him… you should never do that again!” I’m sure somewhere in that conversation he said, “here’s the deal”. That was one of my favorites of Jack’s expressions. It was always followed by some nugget of wisdom that was sure to save you some combination of time and difficulty involved in trying to figure something out.
Family was so important to Jack. When I started out, I was working for a large financial conglomerate, and he knew what the workload could look like, so he always encouraged me to be mindful of keeping a good work-life balance. I had to make sure I had time for my young family. He talked about his family all the time. Over the years our lunch meetings had some occasional discussion of business, smoking meats, whiskey, and politics, but mostly we talked about family. He wanted to know what mine was up to and he loved to talk about his… especially grandkids… he lit up when he talked about his grandkids.
Jack knew people. He had an incredible knack for reading a person or situation, and he was a good steward of this skill. What I mean by that is that he loved people. Upon his first retirement 20 something years ago he outfitted a wood working shop that soon sat mostly unused. His heart pulled him back into the business of helping people. It was a business, but it was so much more than that to Jack. He had a client who was facing a difficult medical diagnosis. They wanted to seek medical care by out of state experts but were told by their health plan that it would not be covered. They turned to Jack for help. This fell outside of the business he handled for his clients, but he didn’t care about that. I still have the file that is several inches thick with research about the disease, treatment options, the importance of a specialist, and correspondence back and forth with the health plan.
I’ve shared a lot about Jack as a mentor partly because I think it’s important for all of us to carry Jack’s torch and look for mentoring opportunities. Beyond being a mentor, Jack became one of my closest friends. It was a friendship with history and roots. I learned things about my dad that I never would have known. I called him a couple of years ago to ask him about a camping site my dad used to take us to when we were kids. It was a small canyon in the Jemez and we had somehow lost the only map we had to the location. I thought Jack might have been there with him at some point, so I called and asked if he knew the area I was talking about. I said, “I don’t know the name, but my dad called it Jackson Canyon.” He laughed and said, “oh, you mean Scott Canyon!” Once he set the record straight, he of course gave me turn by turn directions to the old camping site.
Beyond the history, our business, and our shared interests, I believe our shared values of faith and family are the main things that knit our close friendship together. I stumbled upon a CS Lewis quote that seemed appropriate for this occasion, “Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good.” What I saw in Jack was a deep love for the people God had placed around him. It drove him. He stayed busy and engaged with all of it right up until the very end. This is the way that Jack’s faith spoke most loudly to me. He didn’t talk about it all the time, but he walked it – he loved his neighbor.
I know I’m a better man, a better father, husband, and businessman thanks to my friendship with Jack. His light will continue to shine in all the people he touched. He fought the good fight, he finished the race, and he kept the faith. Jack, because of the mark you made on our lives, we’ll find a way to get along without you here. Rest easy my friend.