I didn’t think I wanted to blog about this but it’s been rattling around inside of me so I thought I would share it!
Life is short and life is precious… none of us know when our time is up and we all need to hold close what is dear to us.
Monday evening, Sept 29th, I was away from home for the evening at a Microsoft internal conference. At around 10:30PM, I checked the local newspaper and found out that a friend of mine, Keith Grinstein, had passed away the day before. Coverage was in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Puget Sound Business Journal, and later in the Seattle Times. A few days later, a nice article was in Crosscut.
Keith was my neighbor and I really, really liked him and really, really like his wife, Claire. We’d only been out to dinner once as the two couples and kept talking about wanting to set up another dinner. I would see Keith at least once a week hanging around in the lobby of the building we share. We all live on top of a hotel and there are folks working for the hotel down in the lobby all the time. It is a busy and vibrant place. Keith had been a successful entrepreneur and businessman. He was a lawyer, did a stint as an aid to various politicians, worked in telecommunications (he was formerly CEO of NexTel amongst other things), was an early investor in Amazon, and much more. He had set his life up the way he wanted it and was now doing venture capitol work out of a small company he set up with some friends. His office was one block away and he spent most mornings down in the “Studio” area off the hotel lobby where you can get breakfast. He was there for a couple of hours each day, pacing around, doing business over his cell phone, and teasing, laughing, and smiling with whoever he would encounter. Keith’s wife, Claire, is a beautiful, vibrant, fun, and hard-working ophthalmologist. Keith had the energy to be on countless boards of charitable organizations. He was on the board for our home owner’s association. One week before he passed away, Keith and Claire opened their home to 300-400 people on a condo tour to benefit the Pike Place Market.
While Keith was certainly not my closest friend nor I his, it is so very hard to see such a vibrant, good, kind, productive, and funny man go so suddenly. In our building, we have a community and it is hurting from the loss. The wonderful people working in the lobby are so sad… they interacted with Keith almost every day. Miles, one of the concierges, said “I miss Keith pacing back and forth across the lobby in his bare feet doing business over the cell phone in his loud and laughing voice”. Denny, the general manager of the hotel, said that two days before he passed away, Keith had his head stuck through the door of Denny’s office making him laugh hysterically. None of this surprises me.
We couldn’t go to Keith’s funeral as my wife, Lisa, had sinus surgery last Monday (she is doing fine). About two hours after the surgery, she was getting ready to go home and Lisa said “I couldn’t be more thrilled with the surgery… I just wish we had been able to go to the funeral!”. The surgeon said, “What, Keith’s funeral?”. We had not had any discussion of Keith with him but the doctor had served on a charity board with Keith and had known him for years. I’ve heard reports that the gathering was standing room only with over 1000 people in attendance. It would be amazing to say how many lives Keith had touched in his 48 years but I saw his spirit and that makes it all seem so plausible.
What can you say when a wonderful person’s life is cut short? My dear friend, Jim Gray, frequently said, “First you live, then you die, live now!” It is SO true! I miss Keith…