Bob Tamasy: When the Phone Rings...

Sunday, February 9, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

You’ve probably received the call. It’s usually in the dead of night, or in the morning’s wee hours, but when the phone rings you know it’s one of two things – either a drunk on the other end of the line, or someone calling to inform you of news you don’t want to hear.

I received one of those last week, except in the mid-afternoon when heart-wrenching phone calls aren’t expected. My longtime friend, Dave Stoddard, president and founder of the non-profit I work with, had passed away very unexpectedly during a business trip in Denver. One of his sons, Aaron, maintained his composure enough to share with me some sketchy details. Dave had died apparently of natural causes, even though he’d not expressed feeling ill.

What do you say at a time like that? I’m a wordsmith, but the best I could muster was, “Oh, man. I’m so sorry.” The loss for Dave’s wife, Anne, their two sons and daughter were paramount, but the void suddenly slicing into my own heart was beyond expression.

He was one of my best friends, virtually like a brother – in the best sense of the word. In fact, the Bible says, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Dave was like that. We had spent many hours together, at meetings and conferences, traveling, in his home, sometimes engaging in deep, serious discussions – other times being as crazy as two grown men can be.

We could go weeks without talking to each other, and the next time we got together or connected by phone seemed like there had been no lapse. We both were Army brats and grew up in New Jersey, but what linked us most closely was our passion for Christ and desire to help others fall in love with Him, too.

But when I received that phone call, I knew I’d never talk to my friend again on this side of eternity. Even though I knew Dave was with his Lord, the gaping hole left in this life, for family and friends, was unfathomable. It was one of those proverbial pinch-yourself moments, hoping to wake up and be relieved to discover it was only a dream. Problem is, I wasn’t sleeping.

Dave and I go back about 30 years, soon after I joined the staff of Christian Business Men’s Committee (CBMC). I had interviewed him for a couple of articles in the CBMC magazine while he was a rising star in the medical supplies industry, and later worked with him on the CBMC executive staff team. Dave could have become president of his company within a few years, but he and his wife wanted to give their lives to something more enduring than selling high-quality medical equipment.

Without question he was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, but never fit Christian stereotypes. He hung out with ease among non-believers, never forgetting his own days as a skeptic of Christianity, exploring various avenues of spirituality, including Transcendental Meditation, before realizing Jesus wasn’t kidding when He declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). And Dave understood the difference between religion (with its rules, rituals, organization and dogma) and spirituality – the desire to know the God of the universe and discover how to have a growing relationship with Him.

He founded Leaders Legacy to leverage his professional expertise and assist business owners and top executives for companies large and small through mentoring, executive coaching, leadership development and team building. In the process, he hoped and prayed for opportunities to talk with leaders about matters beyond the workplace – matters of faith and the heart.

In 2001 he offered me an opportunity to join his team after learning I was sensing it was time to leave CBMC after 20 years. I’ll always remember his words: “Bob, I’ve always felt you were underappreciated and underutilized in your role. If you ever need a place, somewhere you can flourish and become all God wants you to be, we have a place for you.” Wow! Are those affirming, encouraging words or what?

Together we co-authored a book, The Heart of Mentoring: Ten Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential. It’s about Dave’s experiences in a unique approach to one-to-one, relational mentoring, based on simple, straight-forward principles. It’s sold more than 26,000 copies – not exactly a runaway bestseller, but far more successful than most books. And from various accounts, it’s touched many lives.

Over the past 12 years, he probably taught me as much as any single person in my life. And I’d like to think he learned a few things of value from me as well.

When you spend a lot of time with someone there’s so much you could say and write. But I think I can wrap this up with a few thoughts. Dave loved his Lord, first and foremost. He truly loved his wife and children. I never heard him conclude a phone call with any of them without saying, “Love you (and then saying their name).” And he loved people, regardless of status, age, ethnicity, gender or political persuasion. Because he could love them through the eyes of Jesus.

As my thoughts and memories (and some tears) flowed in the hours after I learned of Dave’s death, one passage impressed itself on my mind.

Opening his letter to followers of Jesus in the city of Philippi, the apostle Paul had assured them, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). Verses later the apostle wrote, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” Then he concluded, “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21).

Even though the sting of loss is so real for his family – and his many friends – I’m certain to the last Dave held to the conviction, “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

The organization he founded is aptly called Leaders Legacy, because he indeed left a wonderful legacy. I suspect in the coming days, weeks, months and years, it’s a legacy that will flourish and continue bringing much glory to God.

We miss you, Dave. See you soon!


Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs,, and He can be emailed at

Eric Youngblood: Am I Good Enough To Be Happy?

I’m not sure I’m good enough to be happy. This revelation has occasionally popped up like an untimely pimple. A frightening glance in the mirror reveals that the lion-share of the thieves of my contentment are due to deficits in me. Not that God will make happiness envelop me like a warm, goose-down, winter parka if I can simply muster enough goodness, as if happiness ... (click for more)

4th Annual Keyboards At Christmas Offered At Brainerd Baptist Church

The fourth annual Keyboards At Christmas will be offered on  Dec. 12, at 3 p.m.  and  Dec. 13, at 5 p.m. at the  Brainerd Baptist Church sanctuary. Using six grand pianos, a pipe organ, and more than a  dozen pianists, Keyboards at Christmas is a celebration  of the birth of Christ featuring traditional sacred Christmas  ... (click for more)

City Council To Consider Policy That Job Applicants Would Not Have To Reveal Criminal Records

The City Council on Tuesday night will consider a policy that city job applicants would not have to reveal their criminal past. Councilman Yusuf Hakeem cited problems those with felony records have in securing employment. The policy would go into effect by the first of the year. The resolution says: WHEREAS, the City of Chattanooga (the "City") is committed ... (click for more)

City Considering Measure That Would Require City Employees To Be Tennessee Residents

The City Council is considering an ordinance that would require city employees to be residents of the state of Tennessee. Currently, the city has employees who live in North Georgia and North Alabama  and that is allowed.  If the ordinance is approved by the City Council, it still would need to be okayed by a majority of city voters in an election. The measure ... (click for more)

An Extra Helping Of Gratitude

After being thankful for the grace of God, my family and good health, this year I have an extra helping of gratitude to live in a special place called Chattanooga.   We endured the trauma of terrorism on July 16 and emerged more united and stronger than ever before.  We claim our heritage and celebrate our diversity like no other city in America.  We honor our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cometh ‘The Black Dog’

I am one of 350 million people in the world who suffers from clinical depression. The doctors trace it back to my first decade of the 21 st century when constant surgeries and infections knocked me loopy but the more I have found, I believe I am more like Sir Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and pro football star Terry Bradshaw – I think I have had it all my life. Today it ... (click for more)