Remembering Calvin Blossom – The Influence One Life Can Have

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. ~ Robert F. Kennedy

by Pete Ferguson

It was odd to see Calvin lying relatively motionless on a bed in the ICU Sunday. Calvin has always been a man of action.

We stole his employ over ten years ago when a supervisor, Tupule Poloa, working for me was picking his wife up late from work and struck up a conversation with Calvin who was working as a security officer for her employer.

Tupule came back to the office and told me Calvin was someone I needed to meet and hire. We arranged an interview on his day off and I wanted to hire him immediately, but we did not have an open position for a few weeks.

Calvin is a rare find. I’ve sat through hundreds of interviews and often had to make a compromise on hiring because of a limited pool of candidates. With Calvin, I couldn’t wait until he could join our team. Calvin will not be remembered as a computer expert or speaking in front of large crowds. But Calvin continued to stay best at what he did best – understanding and knowing people.

IMG_4390_SMWhile other officers might hide out in the office or on patrol during peak times, Calvin would stand right at the inner door, holding it open with his foot and greeting people with a smile and likely addressing them by name as he checked credentials for those not already known to him.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

I’ve known Calvin for over ten years now, and I’ve rarely had a conversation with him that lasted more than five minutes – because Calvin was always on a mission and took his job very seriously. Yet he could probably have told you the name of my wife, my children, and that I don’t follow sports much. That in of itself may not seem remarkable, but that he could do that for the majority of every other employee (1,500+) that worked on his shift is an insight to the kind of person Calvin is.

Always on the go when not standing an assigned post, Calvin was a patrol genius. From my perspective, he did everything with purposeful intent.

It was revealed to me this past weekend that he called his son living in another state every day to talk to him, and pray with him. Same for his wife, a nurse, who works long hours and has an erratic schedule.

Calvin was a rare breed of person who made you feel comfortable. He also demonstrated well the scripture admonishing us to “mourn with those that mourn.” I had known of the death of a parent of another staff member and had watched as Calvin took extra effort to ask her about her day and be a dear friend. I only found out much later that Calvin had just lost his father as well.

Now it is our duty to mourn the loss of this great man and to help others through the process. Calvin will be remembered for his kind and caring heart. For understanding humanity is all about people and getting to know them for who they are.

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”
Kenneth H. Blanchard

That is the kind of person Calvin was – someone who did not want to be in the spotlight – but someone who lived the kind of life worth recognizing.

IMG_4453_SMHe won the “Officer of the Year” award for a Salt Lake security managers association I believe in 2005. We recognized him not for pulling someone out of a burning building or subverting a theft – we recognized him for his human ability to be consistent day in and day out and to have an extensive situational awareness which likely did discourage many to try and do anything mischievous under Calvin’s watchful care.

Several years later I nominated him again. That year there were two other officers who had amazingly stopped a robbery in progress through great heroics. After the ceremony, Calvin was all smiles and laughing that he couldn’t compete with that. He was just as graceful in being recognized as he was in allowing others their turn.

Calvin’s physical body has ceased, but Calvin’s spirit and example lives on. He was a man of action, of caring, of understanding the human condition.

You will be missed Cal. God bless you and your family.

[There have been many questions about donating to Cal’s family to help pay for medical and funeral costs. There is an account setup with Mountain America Credit Union. Please use PayPal and type in “calvindonations@gmail.com” as the address and the funds will be transferred into the account. Thanks!]

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Facebook Tribute from Sonny Wagner:

So many tributes to Calvin Blossom have been posted in the last couple days, and I’ve loved reading every one of them. But what has really stuck in my mind and my heart is the common thread that runs through all the posts. It wasn’t that Calvin was particularly smart or educated or handsome or had any of the qualities we usually celebrate and admire in celebrities, politicians, business leaders, or superheroes – the common thread is that he was nice. And warm. And friendly. And caring. He boosted our spirits when he would open doors for each of us and ask after our families. He made us feel special when he walked around the parking lot – not busily talking on his cell phone, but waving at everyone as we arrived or left or hurried between buildings in our oh-so-important work.

One of my co-workers mentioned this morning that she hoped Calvin up in heaven would somehow see all the conversations and tears and tributes and realize how much he had touched all of our lives, and that really made me think. Do I want to be remembered for being smart? For being successful? For having an iPad and an iPhone and being so critically needed at work that I have to walk around with my phone plastered to my ear instead of taking the time to offer my co-workers (and strangers) a friendly smile and a warm hello?

Is it more important to be important? Or more important to be nice? Is it more important to climb the career ladder? Or more important to open a door for someone? Is it more important to be able to effectively use the latest business jargon? Or more important to ask about how my co-worker’s daughter is doing in her new class?

The answers to these questions can often determine how we are remembered.

Calvin was humble, polite, gracious, warm, generous of spirit, caring, and full of joy. He didn’t make a lot of money, nor was he a manager, nor was he even (technically) an eBay employee. Yet he elicited so much admiration, respect, and appreciation from the rest of us that he has received more public tributes today than many celebrities do.

Yes, I think that is the stuff a good life is made of.

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24 thoughts on “Remembering Calvin Blossom – The Influence One Life Can Have

  1. I have worked for eBay for over 10 years and was moved to an international location 6 years ago. Each time I come back to Salt lake city, Calvin was there to meet me with a smile, remembered my name, and always asked after me and how I was enjoying Europe. He was one of the kindest, most gentile people I have ever known. His friendly banter and honest to goodness caring about the employees and our lives (yes, if you asked him about this he would tell you – or in my case as a young 20 something when I joined eBay -use examples to help guide me in mine) was one of the reasons I enjoyed coming to work each day.
    God didn’t make people like Calvin very often. I was blessed to know him and am so sorry to hear of his passing at such a young age.

  2. I looked forward to my daily run-ins with Calvin. He always had such a beautiful big smile and you knew he truly cared how you were doing, it wasn’t just an empty question. What a wonderful wonderful man.

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  4. Calvin was every bit that has been stated so eloquently. I was an eBay employee for a few years and had the pleasure of crossing Calvins path. I looked forward to the brief moments I was able to chat with him and whenever he walked the floor he never once failed to make the effort of passing by with a smile and tap on the shoulder. It is through small acts of continued kindness that impact the life and days of so many I am thankful for the gift of his presence on my path. He will be missed and remembered with that warm sensation in ones heart

  5. This is a great tribute to our dear friend. Calvin was more than just a security guard he became my friends over the 10 years that I had the pleasure of knowing and working with him. Hearing about this grandkids, kids and wife and how proud he was of his family. I would give Calvin an amen now and then as he had great faith and beleifs. Always a smile on his face, always a kind word when I spoke to him, and a true great man. He will be greatly missed! Calvin and his family are in my prayers during this difficult time. This is a man to mirror after and we will remember him fondly!

  6. One of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to know in my life. Although he’ll be missed, Cal’s legacy is timeless!

  7. When I pulled into the parking lot this morning it hit me that Calvin will never be there to greet me again as I start the work day. There isn’t one person at eBay that does not feel a profound sense of sadness at losing this great man Calvin was one of the most genuine people I have ever known. I will miss hearing about his family and I will miss how special he made me feel with his gentle and easy kindness.

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  9. I remember Calvin from my time at eBay as well. He is a fine gentleman, and he always was an example of how to be kind. I was very sorry to hear of his passing.

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  11. I’m sorry for your loss. I didn’t know him personally, but through your touching account of his life and character, I can see how deeply he will be missed. Calvin’s “way” will certainly be missed by those who knew him, and from having known him, I’m sure he’d be best remembered if you all adopt some of his mannerisms to pass on to others as he did for you. Even in death, his life and kindness can and should live on through you. My deepest sympathies to those who lost him, and my greatest respect to a man who was able to make such a strong impact with his kindness. Thank you for sharing.

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  13. I have read all of the beautiful comments about Calvin Blossom. I would like to talk with someone and let you know exactly what I have had on my mind. I want to start by introducing myself, I am Calvin’s biological daughter, his first and eldest of three children by his first wife, Magdaline Blossom! If someone could contact me by email or by phone I have some things I would like to say.
    Sincerely,
    Tiffaney L. Blossom
    My # is 616-828-2379. I would appreciate it!!

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