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The Bob Closson Effect

Robertjamesclosson2First, let me preface this post. It deals with two tightly intertwined concepts: Cause and effect, or in this case, effect, then cause.

On this Thanksgiving night, we are reading headlines about the second consecutive evening of terrorist attacks in Mumbai; over 125 are already dead, with hundreds of others wounded. Over ten million people in our own country are jobless, and at least 3.5 million more are homeless. We’ve undoubtedly entered a recession; banks and large corporations are plunging like dominoes, and global economies are in peril. Things are largely expected to become worse before they get better. This Thanksgiving, it may seem there is little to be thankful for.

This is where the “effect” part comes in. Even in our darkest, most dismal hours, we are able to see light and find hope—if we’re willing to look hard enough. No, I’m not talking about that bright spot you may have in your day tomorrow if you’re so fortunate (and daring) to score a 50-inch-television for $700 at the Super Jumbo Mart (that’s determination and a bit of naivety—that same TV will probably crop up for $650 the weekend before Christmas, so hold your horses for now). I’m talking about that peculiar little seed inside each of us that gives us the ability to find something positive in every person, in every day, no matter how dark the clouds hovering above. Even during our darkest moments, there is some light to be found, it’s just ours for the finding. Maybe it’s as simple as a glimmer of sunshine peeking through the clouds on a winter morning—maybe it’s even less obvious than that, but it’s there…keep looking.

Bringing ourselves to overcome the negative (and there seems to be a lot of it these days) is not a solo mission. The strongest, most influential people have values instilled in them by strong and influential parents, teachers and mentors—good leaders make other people into good leaders. This is where that “cause” part of this post comes in. Just short of two weeks ago, my good friend Clayton (THE DIFF M.C.) lost his father, Bob, to cancer. Prior to his passing, I had only met and spoke with Bob once. I was always pretty sure Clayton was the most passionate human being I would ever meet in my life—that was until I met Clayton’s dad. Our first and only encounter was following a performance of “Smokey Joe’s Café” by The Park Players in Detroit (Bob was a 30+ year veteran of community theatre).

Bob was ecstatic about the play, and Clayton’s performance (Clayton is a theatre veteran himself). It was refreshing to see someone have so much passion for life and the theatre, and to have so much pride in his son. It immediately became apparent that his father instilled the passion that Clayton has for life, and his undying dedication to the things he believes in, in him.

Bob worked as a schoolteacher for many years, but it’s clear that he was a great teacher and mentor inside, and outside the classroom. Two days ago I attended Bob’s memorial service, held at the community center where he had performed and produced theatre for so many years. Behind that same building was where Clayton played baseball and soccer as a young boy. The stage in that building was Bob’s stage. That building was everything that he was: Gracefully aged, full of wisdom and endless stories, and love. Bob saw the best in people, and in life. Bob was the “cause” that affected so many peoples’ lives; made apparent by a building filled beyond capacity by hundreds of people he had touched in some way.

If you’re having a difficult time thinking of something to be thankful for tonight, be thankful for people like Bob—the dreamers, the passionate ones, the people who realize if you want to see the rainbow, you’re going to have to weather the rain. They’re out there, and we can all learn from them—if we try hard enough, and look deeply enough, we can be just like them.

My condolences go out to Bob’s wife Marcia, Jude, Mary and Clayton, who lost their father, and his four grandchildren who lost their “Pappy”. Bob may have moved on from this earth, but the lessons and passion he instilled in the hundreds, if not thousands of lives he touched will never be lost. In this hour of darkness, we will mourn and be sad, but we will also see that glimmer of light as we realize Bob will live on in our memories and hearts forever.

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  1. A very touching and heartfelt post to say the least. It was very clear at the memorial, that Bob Closson had touched and affected many lives. It was truly a celebration of his life.

    Posted by: cb | November 27, 2008
  2. Chris
    Thanks so much for this post. It’s a great tribute to my dad and I know he would have enjoyed reading this. I’m glad you were able to make it to the memorial. It meant a lot to my family that you and the others were there. thanks again for the well written and touching post. I really appreciate it.

    Posted by: Clayton | November 28, 2008
  3. Clayton,
    You’re very welcome. It was obvious your dad was a great guy and had an unmeasurable impact on your family and his community. He will be missed, but the impact he made upon the world around him will continue to live on.

    Posted by: Chris Kaufman | November 28, 2008
  4. Chris,
    Thank you so much for using Bob’s life and attitudes to serve as a meaningful contrast to the negativism in modern life. Henry Adams,US author, autobiographer, & historian, once said: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” I believe that Bob was a gifted teacher whose life and death have been an example to many. I am thankful for the 47 year adventure that I had as his friend and wife. Your blog about him is a wonderful tribute.

    Posted by: Marcia Closson | November 28, 2008
  5. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Posted by: Sharon | November 29, 2008
  6. Clayton, I’m soooooo sorry to hear the bad news. My most sincere condolences for your loss. *hugs*

    Posted by: Diff Ninja | December 1, 2008
  7. Great post and inspiration. Out of all the times we use Clayton for fun I have to admit that he can bring a smile to anyone’s face any day. I am confident those close to Bob would say that exact same thing.

    Posted by: Kriste | December 1, 2008
  8. What a lovely tribute to your father. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family Clayton.

    Posted by: Stephanie Jean Powel | December 3, 2008
  9. I was at Bob’s service, and can only say one thing: All of us should be so lucky as to have a playhouse full of people there after we move on. There is no greater compliment to the impact that a person has had on others, than the love they show and words they speak after you are gone.
    Marcia’s quote is so apropos. There are many ways to be alive — and through the impact you made on other’s lives is one of the most profound and eternal.
    Thank you Clayton for letting me experience one of the most moving experiences of my life. I never met your father, unfortunately, but I left two hours later feeling like I had.
    What an amazing legacy.

    Posted by: Matt C | December 4, 2008

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Sunday, March 18, 2018