There’s a famous quote, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.”
That quote immediately came to mind when I learned of the tragic death of a dear friend of mine last week. The plain and simple truth is, you could ask 500 people in our town who’d tell you he was their dear friend, as well. Roger Grizzard just made you feel that way. He lifted your spirits, made you feel special, he treated you like there was no one else on earth as great as you. Wow, what a world this would be if we all practiced that.
Roger opened “The Pizza Place” on Weatherford’s South Main Street in 1976, and since that time, has probably given away as many pizzas as he sold. If anyone needed his help, he was always there.
Generous to a fault, and not just with pizza, but also with his time and dedication to serve the community. Roger was as involved in the community as anyone I’ve ever known. He served on every board in town, from the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce to Little League, most recently the local Weatherford College board of directors.
He taught economics at the high school, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who graduated Weatherford High School since 1977 who hasn’t worked for him making pizzas. One of those employees was a young, ambitious kid named Kaleb Brewer, who went on to found Phoenix Construction many years later.
“There are few people who leave a lasting impression on you, and Roger Grizzard was one of those people,” said Kaleb. “From the time I was a small boy, when he would give me extra quarters to play the arcades, to later in life with words of encouragement when I worked for him.”
Kaleb continued, “He taught me life lessons through his actions and was the most outstanding advocate for youth in our community. Some people transcend the norms where the rest of us operate. It’s something they do day in and day out. It’s a choice. Roger Grizzard chose to live his life on another level. He was a tremendous leader, motivator, and supporter of our great community. I am honored to have known and worked for him and I will miss his enthusiastic manner and infectious smile. Roger was truly one of a kind and will be greatly missed.”
There are hundreds of tributes and stories like Kaleb’s about their experience with Roger. I can tell you firsthand that at Phoenix Construction, Kaleb has made it a point to practice what Roger preached to all who’d listen: To put others first, to build others up, and to see the good in everyone.
As Roger’s family prepares not for a funeral, but for a celebration of life, they’ll be faced with a major dilemma: There’s no church in town, no auditorium big enough, to hold the people who’ll want to pay respects to this man whose heart was as big as the state he loved.
So, I have one question for you. Whose heart is YOUR name carved on?
Dave Cowley is the Senior VP of Investor/Public Relations at Phoenix Construction.