Last Friday, the college held a memorial service for Lance Woodard, the registrar, who died in February. It was an opportunity for his colleagues to share with his family and with each other what he meant to us at Nashville State.
As I listened to his friends tell stories about him, I noticed several themes that might serve as useful life lessons:
- Use your time. Lance was only 37 when he died, but he had done so much in those few years. He made a mark in every office he worked, as the guy who was punctual, smart, and willing to learn. At every level, he made it his business to be the smartest person in the room. He was not only the go-to person at the college but also for the whole TBR system when it came to the intricacies of Banner. While working full-time, he continued his education, never letting his classes or his work slide.
- Have fun. Almost every member of the Records department had a story about how much fun it was to work with Lance. Everyone at Nashville State knew not to even try to compete with the Records office when it came to Halloween. They had a theme, they decorated the office, they dressed up. It was a production. (Once I sent him an email stating the library was ready to compete with Records for Halloween. His response: “No, you’re not. But it’s cute you think so.”
- Enjoy your life now. People recounted Lance’s love for fancy cars and fancy clothes. They mentioned brands of shoes I’ve never even heard of. I would not call him a materialistic person by any means, but he knew what added value to his life and did not wait until some future some day to enjoy them.
- Be loyal to your friends. Story after story told of Lance’s devotion to his friends. He showed up at lunches, weddings, funerals, and hospitals. He saved a place for a colleague who wasn’t as punctual as he for meetings. When he read about a defect on a car, he texted a friend to roll down her window so she wouldn’t be asphyxiated on her drive in to work. As one of his colleagues in Records said, “He saw something in me when I interviewed. And he continued to see something in me.”
As I listened to all the stories about Lance, I wondered if perhaps he had some subconscious inkling that his time on this planet might be short and that’s why he packed so much in. And I’m sure I was not the only one who made a promise to make better use of my own time now. So that’s why when there was an invitation for everyone to come down and dance the “Cupid Shuffle” (a dance that Lance had apparently perfected), I dragged my uncoordinated body down to the stage and danced my heart out.