I’m Blind–I Quit

By Theresa Sweeney-Smith

I am a person of very low vision, however, I have 20/20 vision when it comes to the characteristics that make up a really good person.

I have worked for Mary Linsmeier Schools for 27 years. Shortly after I started, David Linsmeier moved back from Colorado with his family to take over so his parents could retire.

Most of the personnel in the office were somewhat skeptical about this young man, who is exactly 6 months my junior, taking over. I, on the other hand, am someone that can embrace change, and I was very interested to see what changes would be made.

Dave was enthusiastic, had a good sense of humor and was genuinely a very nice guy. On his first day of work dressed in a white shirt, black suit and tie, he took off his jacket and assisted someone who was frantic about locking the computer room door and leaving their keys inside. Dave smiled and said, “Oh don’t worry. I can get them for you.”  He pulled himself up through the drop down ceiling and dropped down into the office and opened the door.

This first impression stayed with me as he was dressed in a power suit and did not hesitate getting dirty. He was also very humble about what I considered to be a pretty physical accomplishment.

In 1993, the glaucoma that had plagued me since 1972, took enough of my vision that I was forced to make my decision not to drive any longer.

I married my husband, Gary and we moved about 25 miles from my office. His job did not always allow him to bring me to work and I was forced to make the decision to quit my job.

I reluctantly wrote the letter with my reasons for resignation. I put it on Dave’s shelf at 8:30 am and waited all day for him to say something about it to me. At 4:55 pm, he came into my office and told that he didn’t want me to leave. He said “This is a new millennium. We have computers and I am sure we can work something out.”

I was saved. I was able to keep a job that I really loved and continue to work with people with whom I had built relationships. I continued to work full time, but worked from home two days per week which allowed my husband to be able to schedule early weekly appointments.

Dave wanted a solid work team. He asked our opinions and was a good listener. He gave all of us the ability to make decisions and encouraged us to take classes to be good decision makers.

I took courses and credentials in both Human Resources and Early Childhood Administration, and Dave assisted me with the technology that I needed to complete the classes and to be effective in my position.

Although my eye sight has deteriorated, Dave still expects me to accomplish tasks and think out of the box. He challenges me, continues to rely on me, and knows that I will work hard for him. He assists me when I have a technology problem and in some cases, has taught me how to solve my own problems.

Dave has not changed since the first impression I have of him. He remains physically strong and has just hiked rim to rim of the Grand Canyon. He is funny, kind, and smart, and has been a good teacher and brought out the best in me.

Not everyone recognizes who is mentoring them during the time they are being mentored. Sometimes people reflect years later and determine that it was a parent, teacher, neighbor or family member that supported them, motivated them and made a life-changing positive difference.

I am lucky to call mine a friend.

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5 thoughts on “I’m Blind–I Quit

  1. Theresa! Thank you for the great tribute to Dave. Nancy found your article before me and called me to tell me about it. We basked in the ripples of Dave-ness in big gratitude for him and you. Kindness and being grateful for kindness matters ~ I am doing the latter here, for you and yours. 🙂

  2. Theresa – I feel the same way about Dave. I learned so much from him. I was always a little surprised how as the CEO he was willing to roll up his sleeves. Just ask him about the day he, his son Collin, me, and my sons Colin and Kyle, tried to dig out all the woodchips from the Mequon play yard with 4 shovels and a wheelbarrow! Oy!
    I didn’t realize at the time how he modeled how to be a leader with heart and how much I gleaned.
    You might not realize too the impact you had on me as well. I appreciate you mentoring me and all the advice over the years. You helped me be able to face conflicts and sticky situations with confidence, poise, and eloquence.
    I miss that! I miss you!
    Fondly, Mary Madigan

  3. Theresa, what a wonderful post. I miss all of you and have such fond memories of Dave as well as you. I was so blessed to be able to work for the Linsmeiers and I learned so much from Mary herself.

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