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November 5, 2018 - Comments Off on Eulogy for Mel Lawrence

Eulogy for Mel Lawrence

This past weekend, I was asked by my aunts and uncles to prepare the Eulogy for my grandpa, as the representative for the family at his Memorial Mass. I was honored and humbled. I started collecting stories, memories, and nuances from my family members... it led to fits of laughter and a few tears. He was a good man, thanks for reading and go hug your family.

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11/4/18, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, 3pm Memorial Mass for Melvin Lawrence

Hello. Thank you all for being here. I’m Sam DuRegger, Cathy’s son — It’s my honor to read the Eulogy for Melvin Lawrence, my grandpa.

First things first... While some of you knew him as “Captain Lawrence” or “Dad” or just Mel, I think it’s safe to say that formality is out the door with this Eulogy. The grandpa I knew, was retired lakeside, with boat shorts, flip flops and a tank top that may or may not have been washed in the last week and a half. My hope is that these words today will honor his memory and spur you to share your stories with each other, stories centered around his laughter, his passion for life, and his service.

The earliest memory I have of my grandpa, is one stolen from pictures of my first birthday, and while I don’t remember smearing cake all over my face—the picture of me shoving cake into Grandpa’s mouth, is one seared into my memory. His love of us grandkids was palpable, he loved big and taught us well.

He taught me how to take a bluegill off the hook, to knee board on the lake, and wasn’t afraid to critique my shooting when we went to the basketball courts with TJ, Uncle Ron, and Sean.

These memories seem to be a lot like your memories.

Marian remembers being taken to the firehouse, given ice cream cones, accompanying her dad in the small day-to-day tasks like picking up a paycheck.

Liz shared fond memories of Grandpa’s presence and sporting events, performances, and weekly functions for her and her kids. Always rooting, coaching, and being heard by all in attendance.

His kids memories of the three hour drive to the family cabin in Clear Lake, fishing and swimming on the lake, a life outdoors!

Sean’s memory of Grandpa telling Ronnie to do a barrel roll on the knee board to show us kids up. Grandpa pulling TJ on the slolem ski, proud of the way he carved the glassy surface behind the boat.

Michelle’s recounting of many a phone call ending with Grandpa’s favorite catchphrase... “VERY GOOOOOOD”

On a walk this morning with my mom, we were reminiscing a bit about her childhood and what she remembers most about her dad. She remembers a dad who loved to laugh, a dad who wrestled with his kids on the living room floor after a long days work (this lasted until he was quite outnumbered, and risked serious injury wrestling the gaggle of kiddos). She called him her anchor. And I think we all can understand that.

These memories we share and the memories just between you and him are ones to cherish.

We witnessed his love of sports, from baseball with his fire department, to coaching his kids and grandkids. He was also fond of coaching the Oakland A’s and Raiders players during regular season and postseason play... though they may not of heard him yelling through the television, all of us in the room with him sure did.

In 2007, I came to stay with Grandpa for a few days. I’m sure I threw him off his very meticulous routine. During those few days — I observed a generous man dedicated to service in the small things. On Saturday night, we set the chairs up for Mass and made sure everything we ready for church the next day. He did this every week, as well as handing out books pre-service and opening and closing the doors before and after mass. He greeted many, and anchored the communion line only two weeks ago in his scooter.

There are many stories that can be shared. And I could be up here for hours longer recounting many of my own... though the last story I want to share, I heard for the first time last night.

Now, Grandpa worked for the Oakland fire department for 25 years. He made Captain, and had a goal of retiring on the Departments Tugboat Unit which serviced the Bay. This last assignment for him was a dream, and one that took 20+ years of experience to achieve. His routine, his service, his experience, allowed him to respond to a massive fire on a tanker, one so big that the San Francisco Fire Department turned down to come help. He directed his team, led them through a dangerous task and put out the fire.

The city of Oakland honored him for his and his team’s response.

He would never tell you this story. Though I’m sure proud, bragging on himself was not something he did well (unless it had to do with bowling or poker... sorry Father). I think this story is one that we can all rally around... It shows something that we’ve all experienced, his consistency in the small things through all those years, daily routines and tasks done right—allowed him to lead those men to put out that fire.

And as we look back on his life, I can say for certain it is those small things, the things that are the hardest to be consistent at, these are the memories that carry us.

In this life, Mel, was to many an anchor, keeping us in safe harbor.

In death, he sails away on a new adventure and as he weighs anchor, we mourn the loss of this security, this anchoring. But rest assured, he has given us an example, a legacy to follow.

So, as we too put our sails to the wind, may we honor him by making these stories our own—weaving service, laughter, generosity, and a passion for life throughout.

Thank you grandpa.

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October 31, 2018 - Comments Off on Mel Lawrence, my grandpa

Mel Lawrence, my grandpa

It’s been a hard week. My grandpa was put into Hospice at home this week at his lake house in Copperopolis, California. As his health began to deteriorate and his moments of clarity waned. I asked my aunt to read this to him and show him the most recent pictures of my family. I am dismayed I waited to say these things... that we leave so many things unsaid to our friends and to our family.

My Grandpa and I would talk every Christmas, he was a man a few words. Being so far away for all these years makes it hard to voice my pain of his loss without feeling some twinge of guilt that we didn’t see each other more often.

After grad school, I spent a week with him, this is about 10 years ago. It was during September, baseball was in full swing and the A’s were on the cusp of a playoff position. We spent each night watching baseball with very few words between us, besides, “good play” and “what a hit” and “dummy!” My mother said, I have a lot of his attributes, my height being the most glaring. Below is what I wrote to my Grandpa, things I wanted him to hear, things that I have gleaned from him, his life and now pass on to my girls.

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Grandpa,

A few of the things you’ve past down to me and my family:

1. Lake fun is the best fun. My memories of boating, fishing, swimming and kneeboarding have always been the memories quick to draw a smile. Thank you for showing us how to have fun in the water.

2. Grit - I always look to my mother’s work ethic and her attribution of that ethic back to you as one of my greatest strengths. It’s what drove me in sports, to always be the best I could be and work harder then the rest. Thank you for passing that onto my mom.

3. Your love of baseball and the Oakland A’s. I will cherish my memories of watching or listening to the games with you as I was growing up. It’s the little things that influence us, and this was a big one for me.

4. Your service. Both in the fire department and at mass, I have always tried to emulate your service... even in the small things like setting up chairs and greeting people as they are. Thank you for this gift.

Love you Grandpa. And thank you. Thank you for being you, for being my mom’s dad, and my grandpa.

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August 29, 2016 - Comments Off on rapid adaptation

rapid adaptation

The economic problem of (an organization) is rapid adaptation to changes in its particular circumstances. Then, the ultimate decisions must be left to the people who are familiar with these circumstances, who know directly of the relevant changes and of the resources available to meet them. This problem cannot be solved by first communicating all this knowledge to a central board which then issues its orders. But the “man on the spot” cannot decide solely on the basis of his limited but intimate knowledge of his immediate surroundings . There still remains the problem of communicating to him such further information as he needs to fit his decisions into the whole pattern of changes of the larger (organizational) system.

-- Friedrich Hayek, Nobel Laureate in Economics

My thoughts...
These phrases jump out at me, “rapid adaptation” and “people who are familiar with these circumstances.” The main problem in large scale projects and integrated solutions, is that the people familiar with the circumstances and the right solution are rarely consulted when decisions are made, causing “rapid adaptation.” It is a vicious cycle of infinite regression, where the people with the least context, continually set the forward looking vision. Future looking roadmaps created by Vice Presidents of said company are an example of this style of decision making--rarely right they prophesize their own demise with the creation of boundary oriented documents.

The horizon strategy seems much more pragmatic, look toward a point on the horizon, and judge the success of the project by the accomplishments of goals leading to that point on the horizon. Instead of swimming lanes with product features that are endlessly edited and erased.

December 4, 2015 - Comments Off on for the love of coffee and tea

for the love of coffee and tea

Quick trip to Salt Lake City this week to attend La Barba's annual shareholders meeting... was a great time to catch up with the team and see where the brand is going. Josh, the CEO, also asked the question, "Why did you want to get involved in Charming Beard (now La Barba) in the first place, and what do you want out of this as shareholders?"

A great question.

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November 20, 2015 - Comments Off on 2016… the year of side project(s).

2016… the year of side project(s).

2015 has been a great year... I feel like work/life balance finally has a fulcrum as Sonic, which has been and is an incredible place to flex my skillset in digital innovation and experience development. The team is fantastic, clicking along toward some great great stuff over the next 12 months. This week, we finally launched a project we've been working on for close to a year, it's not the full vision, but a huge step in the right direction. You'll see more in the coming weeks on the work we did for the new Interactive POPS experience... I can't wait for everyone to experience the full version of this experience!

In the balance, I was finally able to get Lake Surf Co. and Woodshed Tea off the concept floor and into Oklahoma state certified businesses!

Lake Surf Co. has been around for a few years, but will pivot away from SUP board sales and rentals and focus on the SUP boarding lifestyle. We'll be venturing into apparel and other accessories for the lake and river SUP boarding lifestyle in the Midwest. I'm looking forward to leaning into this space, as the brand is super fun to work on and anything to get us out on the water is a good thing! We are launching next week with two hat styles, and should be able to move into some t-shirts before the new year. #getboard


Woodshed Tea is a passion project from my time at Alpha Dominche. We worked so hard to position the Steampunk brewer to be ambidextrous, that is, to revolutionize coffee and tea brewing, both in extraction time and flavor profile. In that experience I got the opportunity to visit some of the top coffee roasters in the nation, as well as some of the top tea importers and blenders. A working man's master's degree in coffee and tea has been stuffed in my head, and with Woodshed Tea I get to explore the tea side of things in much more detail. We will be launching with nine tea varieties, a curated list of loose leaf teas including some organic single origin green, black, white tea and a couple expertly blended herbal teas. You'll find our offerings incredibly diverse, and yet pure to their original intent. So much to be excited for with this project. #looseleaf

woodshed-tea

So, here is to 2016! Lot's to look forward to and lots of building to be done. Because builders gotta build.

October 27, 2015 - Comments Off on Camping.

Camping.