My dear friend Hal passed away yesterday. I was so incredibly lucky to work with Hal for a decade. What a man, what a character, what an inspiration. He walked his talk with joy in his heart and a good dose of mischief around the edges.
Like all colleagues with desks only a few feet apart, Hal and I talked too much some days. Imagine having Hal to yourself and talking about everything with him from ending poverty to feminism to B Corporations, Hal’s last favorite issue.
Hal loved disagreeing with me, not that we were ever that far apart in our views. He was disappointed when he couldn’t get an animated discussion out of me; I am a Killough after all and he counted on my stubbornness to keep up my end of a good debate. I gave Hal a lot of credit for being more open minded than I. He was willing to change his mind on anything.
We discovered one day that we were each deeply moved decades ago by Martin Buber’s book, I and Thou. We figured out that we each read the book within months of each other – maybe even the same month. This was one of many threads that wove our friendship.
I witnessed many powerful scenes in the foundation office with Hal: entrepreneurs facing deep hardships; fascinating deals with fellow investors; and sweet encounters.
Perhaps the sweetest was when Untours staffer Kim Paschen came in to say goodbye to Hal. Kim had adopted my commitment to animal rights and was leaving Hal’s employment to pursue that work. She appeared in our office with tears flowing as she told Hal that he was the most amazing boss ever and anywhere, that Untours had been wonderful to and for her, how excruciating it was for her to fledge from Untours, and how much she loved Hal and Norma. Hal returned Kim’s love and shared his pride in her courage to move on. A far cry from your typical place of employment.
From day one at the foundation, Hal gave me veto power over all of the loan decisions. At that point in time, it was only Hal and Norma’s money in the foundation, and Hal was the one with lending experience. Nonetheless, he made me his equal. Hal is known for being generous, but this is but one example of the breadth of that generosity.
Hal kept me constantly entertained between his desk chair that leaned too far back – as he always caught himself at just the last nanosecond – to his eating yet another 3-or-more day-old sandwich that he might find in his desk cabinet. He never fell off the chair and never got sick from anything he ate. He also never had a second of jet lag or minded taking naps on the hard foundation floor. On two different occasions he was hit by a car while riding his bike, and both times only the bikes were injured. He was hardy stock.
And he was heart-y stock always deeply and most concerned for those with the least. He did not believe in philanthropy since he equated that with charity. He believed in change and therefore in building new economic structures, which included Fair Trade, local economies, worker owned businesses, and B Corporations.
As for the mischief around the edges, Hal was right there for any party or silliness that came his way including demonstrating for the Untours staff the one-legged milking stool he was gifted. Please honor this deep and playful man through your social justice deeds and your personal mischief making.