I’m still struggling to come to grips with the idea of a world without Roger Stone. Roger was a friend and a colleague. I met him early in my career at UTMB, and our paths kept crossing professionally and socially. He was always calm, always positive, always smiling. I never heard him say anything bad about anyone, and whenever there was work to be done, he was always the first to step forward. I never heard “that’s not my job” from him—even when we knew something wasn’t. One of those unofficial jobs was serving as our campus vanpool and commuter transportation guy. The van he drove was famously popular, usually with a months-long waiting list for an open spot. He made 30 minutes on I-45 fun, like he made life fun.
I ran across an email from him today, a message so fresh and relevant I wanted to reply, until the reality and finality of this weekend’s accident slapped me with the cold and harsh truth. Our most recent project together started just a couple of weeks ago; we were working to develop and share additional commuting options and information for UTMB employees. It was a big project, and not something that would benefit him personally. He was at the table with us late that afternoon because he knew $4-a-gallon gas was hurting employees, and he could help. That’s the kind of guy he was, always thinking of others first. That’s what he did late one dark, stormy, terrible night in the Gulf of Mexico. His brave and selfless act bought two young men a future. But it cost him his life.
Roger died a hero. It’s not the first time he’s earned that title. He died doing one of the things he loved. He leaves a huge, painful, sad void for all of us who knew him, and especially for his family. All I can do is honor his memory, and it seems so horribly, utterly inadequate.
The memorial service for Roger is this Thursday, June 12, at 5 p.m. at Clear Lake United Methodist Church (16335 El Camino Real, near Bay Area Blvd in Clear Lake). Rather than flowers, an education fund for his two kids is being established at the Bank of America in Clear Lake. I heard there may be a second memorial service of some sort on campus, later.