[ a sad farewell ]

Leon Badger

Yesterday was the funeral of our good friend, Lee Badger. It's heartbreaking to even write the words. None of us can believe it. One short year ago we were gasping in shock when Shari told us about his ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) diagnosis.

The obituaries and tributes have been well-done and such an honor. But they don't even begin to tell about the Lee we knew and have known since 1982, when they moved to our neighborhood. Lee was always a lot of fun to talk to and be around. He cared about people - and their kids and families. He often asked us about our dog and we asked about his. Lee liked to laugh and tell great stories - and yet he never sought to be the center of attention. We knew him to be generous and tolerant - even of certain teenage boys who were in his Scout troop and probably drove him crazy, but he never mentioned that. Lee knew what was important.

Lee was passionate about his business and career.
He was honest and straightforward. He built his three grocery stores with hard work and smart moves - he invested in improvements and expansions when they needed to be done. He (and Shari) kept clean and attractive stores. Lee worked as hard as anyone there, and he never asked any employee to do something he wasn't willing to do himself. Sometimes Lee was the 'people greeter' at the store. In fact, that might have been his favorite job.

When I think of Lee, I think of Shari by his side. Those two were a team. You almost never saw one without the other. Shari was his right-hand man at the store (or maybe he was her right-hand man). They made good decisions together - I'm pretty sure they got multiple requests every day at the office to support some cause, fund-raiser or person in need. They said yes over and over. They were generous and didn't complain. They provided food for who-knows-what-all! They supported every athletic team- especially the Aggies. Most impressive: they did their kind deeds quietly.

Lee and Shari had lots of fun together. They got to go on fun trips and share cool experiences. They worked together and played together. One thing they loved to do was go to other grocery stores - all over the country - and "walk the store." They went four-wheeling and snowmobiling (remember the minus-forty-degree ride into Yellowstone?). Lee and Shari were a classy pair, and everyone wanted to be with them. We were the lucky ones, but didn't appreciate it at the time - took the togetherness for granted. Oh how I wish we could sit at the restaurant table again, laughing at Craig's stories and bragging about our grandkids.

When I attend a funeral I always think of the saying, "Going to the funeral of a good person makes you want to be a better person." I felt that yesterday as I left Lee's funeral. His example will help me, and many others, live a better life.