But sometimes they don't have wings
and are called friends!
by Skip Cohen
I rarely write about people outside the industry, but this week we lost an extraordinary friend. Only a handful of you knew Frank Fleisher, but hopefully, many of you are lucky enough to have someone like Frank in your life.
Ever had a friend who you didn't know that long, but you can't remember a time when they weren't in your life? Frank and I met just six years ago when we were both asked to be on the Board of the Senior Friendship Centers here in Sarasota. The friendship was instant, and as we sat together at a lunch meeting with Erin McLeod, CEO for SFC, I remember her declaring right there, we were never going to be allowed to sit next to each other at any board meeting.
Over the years, the friendship grew, and Frank and his wife Barbara became one of our favorite couples to get out to dinner with. And when they left town each summer for their cottage in Maine, we'd go through withdrawal, counting the days until they were back!
My favorite picture of Frank is a grab-shot from my phone on the right. Frank and I were both trying to lose weight. So we had a little side-bet over a month or two, and whoever lost bought the next dinner for the four of us. Well, in the middle of the challenge, there was a Board meeting, and Frank decided to try and tip the scale in his favor - he came over to me with a full plate of blonde brownies and pumpkin roll!
When the pandemic hit, we went months without seeing them. They stayed in Maine longer than just the summer, but within two weeks after they were back, we reunited for dinner at one of our favorite places.
We hadn't had our vaccines yet, but we knew we'd all been careful and safe. So, we didn't hug, did fist bumps, and maintained social distancing throughout dinner. But for dessert, we decided to do what we usually did and ordered one dessert and four forks.
As we sat there, all sharing one order of flourless chocolate cake, I started laughing. I pointed out how we'd all been so careful social distancing through dinner but underestimated the power of chocolate - we were all huddled together eating off the same plate!
That was our last dinner together last Spring. Frank was diagnosed with a type of leukemia, fought a hard battle, and passed away this past Thursday.
Look, life is simply too short, and while Sheila and I will miss Frank immensely, he's a part of us. His incredible heart, style, giving nature, and smiling face have contributed so much to the quality of our lives, and all in such a short time.
Frank always liked to pick on me because I rarely wear long pants. After all, I live in Florida, and a nice shirt and shorts work virtually everywhere. So he used to tell me to put on big boy pants.
Well, Frank, I'm putting on my big boy pants today and doing my best to cherish the memories and our time as friends and fight off the sadness. You were like a brother and almost got me to like Scotch! You will be so missed. We love ya, buddy!
As Erin McLeod shared in an email....
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
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