There’s nothing like the sudden death of a dear friend who was far too young to die to serve as a reminder about what's important in life – namely giving thanks for an enduring friendship that I found so enriching.
God bless my fallen comrade, Dave Albertson, who died of heart disease and head injuries sustained in a fall at his home just days before Thanksgiving. He was just 55 years old. Life won't ever be the same without this gentle giant of a man with the most tender heart, biting sense of humor and quick wit.
I met Dave in 1988 upon joining the staff of Employee Benefit News. He was quiet, bespectacled and very tall. As someone of short stature, I looked up to him – in more ways than one.
Dave was a tremendous writer and one of the best scribes EBN or its sister publications ever employed. I admired his work a great deal and told him so every time I had the pleasure of reading one of his many analytical and well-reported stories.
I learned a lot from Dave. He was my mentor, but he also was my friend – a thoughtful, caring, kind and compassionate man who even helped counsel my wife through some challenging times. We shared a strong faith in God and joked of our infamous histories involving religious guilt (his Catholic and mine Jewish). Our beliefs were largely kept private.
Dave was also a prodigious diplomat, and because of that skill, he became one of the best supervisors of people I’ve ever known, which was fitting for a magazine devoted to a deeper examination of the human resources industry.
I remember one time he asked my view of a potentially explosive situation involving sexual-harassment allegations in our tiny office that proved to be unfounded. It was one of his earliest management challenges. He handled it with grace and kid gloves, and at one point quipped: “How do you tell someone who’s thin skinned that they’re thin skinned?” His sense of humor was edgy and occasionally used to defuse tension or simply add comic relief.
Dave inspired and motivated me to always strive for excellence and bring my A game to everything I did. I was glad to have him in my foxhole at work. He was pretty meek when I met him, but emerged a true leader over time who commanded respect from the troops. He also was full of compliments and admiration, and it was a great honor to be on the receiving end of his positivity and encouragement.
When I learned of his death, I couldn't believe he was gone. I was hoping for many more years of friendship and work collaborations with him. I can’t imagine life without him. Dave Albertson was one of my all-time favorite people. I had such incredible affection and admiration for him. Losing him leaves an unbelievable void that will never be filled. But his memory fuels my soul, and I take great comfort in knowing that he we shared so many laughs and secrets, hopes, dreams and desires across 25 years.