This is not the first time I've posted about the incredible gift of friendship. It likely won't be the last. Last Tuesday evening, my friend Charles (Charlie) F. Chappell died. Unfortunately, it's an example of an opportunity I missed - to thank Charlie for the inspiration he provided me during the occasions we spent time together. Fortunately, my friend Mike Fritsch expressed his gratitude to Charlie for all that he gave to Mike in a very eloquent way in a letter before Charlie died. Mike has been an inspiration to me, in no small measure because he has done so much with the opportunities he was given. Mike is a brilliant meteorologist and was no doubt a source of great pride for Charlie. Charlie managed to inspire (directly or indirectly) five people who have received the Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award from the American Meteorological Society: Mike Fritsch, Bob Maddox, Da Lin Zhang, Dave Stensrud, and George Bryan. This is an amazing achievement for an amazing man. If you know these people, you must realize how important Charlie's legacy is! These people represent what Charlie was about - dedication to advancing our understanding of the science - and who have used what they were given to advance everyone's understanding. I'm proud to say I'm friends with all of them!
Mike Fritsch is an amazing man in his own rights, as is another "hero" of mine, Bob Maddox. Charlie inspired many of us, indirectly or directly, to achievements of substance. And it's been my privilege to know and admire many such people in my profession. I've known some amazing colleagues (living and dead) who have influenced me to achieve well beyond my own meager capabilities: Bob Maddox, Mike Fritsh, Fernando Caracena, Charlie Chappell, Fernando Caracena, Stan Barnes, Harold Brooks, Chad Shafer, Alan Moller, Ronnie Alberty, Yoshi Sasaki, Walt Saucier, Dave Barber, Barry Schwartz, Werner Schwerdtfeger ... the list is long and I have left out some here who certainly deserve recognition.
I often have said that the biggest regrets in my life are sins of omission: not having expressed my thanks to those who have helped me become what I wanted to be. Charlie Chappell's recent passing is one that bothers me because I never took the time to tell him how much he meant to me. For your own sake, please take that time to say "Thank You!" to those who played a positive role in your life. It probably means more to you than it does to them - they have been rewarded with seeing your success, whether you said anything or not. But to have expressed your gratitude helps a great deal when they've passed beyond your gratitude. Take the time now, while the opportunity still exists! Friendship with inspirational friends is important. Be grateful for it, as friendships inevitably end even as we live on.