There is nothing quite like hearing about the passing of a friend moments before you board a completely full airplane. So, for the sake of my middle seat responsibilities to hold it together, let me tell you about my friend Linda Kay Jones.
In her capacity as Vice President of Advancement for Western New Mexico University, Linda Kay was mission focused on helping her employer, community and family (immediate and extended). I know that sounds like stuff people would say at a time like this, but I saw her live it for the past seven years. In the words from the great Train song “Drops of Jupiter” she was the best friend always sticking up for you even when they know you are wrong.
To call her a survivor would not do justice to the word. Linda Kay was a “thriver” She’d been through many different surgeries, chemotherapy treatments and still just had this deep thirst for life and legacy. After all how many people have been in hospice twice? She still had stuff to do. And she got it done!
Running the 2012 Valles Caldera Marathon for her was actually quite appropriate. It remains one of the two most challenging trail marathons I’ve ever run. In the midst of a steep terrain, uneven trail, and great views, empowerment by providing encouragement to others on the same trail fit Linda Kay’s personality.
The day I presented her the marathon medal was one that Linda Kay was speechless. I didn’t know what to do with the silence, so I just let it all set in as she cleared a place on her desk where is sat like a photo of a child or dear friend. We talked about the race, related it to life and laughed.
As the years went by, she kept the medal in her office as a discussion piece to talk about the One Medal program and how she was encouraged as a result of it. Mission accomplished.
Even though my state contract with Western New Mexico University ended several years ago, I would always make time for Linda Kay. She would always show her appreciation by making and delivering the best pecan pies (being raised in Texas I know a thing or two about the gooey goodness)! The staff and other visitors to The Garrity Group all gained weight as a result. No complaints.
I am not sure why I haven’t shared Linda Kay’s story until now. Maybe it is part of that legacy thing. Regardless, this brief missive, on a short flight to Denver, does not even scratch the surface about her life and contributions.