Farewell to a Friend

This is a tribute to my late dear friend, Geoffrey Richardson. We met 27 years ago after the company I was leading was acquired by his company, a London-based public company. He worked with me as my VP of Sales for the US operation. We made a good team and became best friends. • In 1990, we started an annual Hilton Head golf trip. This was our 25th year. Geoffrey picked me up but never made it through the weekend. Due to poor health, he returned to Atlanta on Friday and unexpectedly died in the hospital on Monday morning. A week after he picked me up for the weekend tournament, his ashes were being spread at Indian Hills Golf Club and at his cricket club in England.

Open-Bar Memorial

“I’m not going to the memorial,” Kathy said.

“You have to go,” I said.

“He made every party fun. He won’t be there, so this isn’t going to be fun,” she said.

I had to agree.

Geoffrey’s celebration of life memorial was a cocktail party at Indian Hills Country Club. It was an open bar, and they served his favorite hors d’oeuvres.

Despite Geoffrey’s plan, it wasn’t fun.

Observing a Changed Man

I was Geoffrey’s friend from the moment I met him in London in the board room of Computer People in September of 1988. We just connected. It was a man version of love at first sight. We trusted each other and loved each other. It was a 27-year love affair.

At age 40, through AA and some bold Christian friends, I came to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and personal Savior. Ten years ago, Kathy and I were invited to Geoffrey’s 60th birthday party.

The guest list included his family and a small group of friends. It was there he said something about me to the gathering which I never forget. He said, “After knowing Charlie for 17 years, he is the only man I’ve ever known who changed. He is a different person than the man I first met.”

That’s when I knew he started seeking God. He wanted to know more. I asked him one day, “If I started a Bible Study 101 with a group of men, would you attend on a weekly basis?”

A 7 a.m. Commitment

He said, “Yes. When and where would we meet?”

“Seven a.m. every Friday morning at my office,” I replied.

That’s when he told me 7 a.m. is a ridiculous time, but for me he would do it. The group met every Friday at the crack of dawn at my office to study the Bible, and Geoffrey was there with us. He came for almost six months.

Geoffrey had a love for his fellow man and a thirst to know his Creator. I don’t know if he reconciled with God, but I believe he did. Over the last 10 years, we have had many conversations about Christianity, the Bible, Jesus, and salvation.

Our last dinner conversation lasted two hours. The question: Where does morality come from, man or God? He would always end our conversations with, “I envy your faith.”

Searching for Faith

I would say, “You can have the same faith. Just ask God for it.”

I believe he believed. Why would he want to argue about God all the time? To paraphrase Shakespeare, “Methinks he doth protest too much.” That was Geoffrey.

After completing my eulogy for Geoffrey, there was an open mic. Many of his friends and golf buddies shared their love for him. They laughed and cried as they told stories and expressed how Geoffrey was so special to them.

As they were speaking, his closest friends came up to me and shared their concern for Geoffrey’s eternal life.

One man told me this story. “Geoffrey and I were on a golf trip, and when he came downstairs one morning, he caught me reading my Bible. Geoffrey asked me, ‘Why do you read the Bible every morning?’ I told him that when I read the Bible I feel close to God as he speaks to me through his Word.”

He continued, “I never knew where Geoffrey was with God. I am so relieved he attended your Bible study. Hopefully, he learned God loved him and wanted to be in a relationship with him. I hope he made that choice in the end.”

This was just one of the conversations I had. All of these men and women were Christians, and they were in their late sixties and early seventies. Interestingly, none of the younger men and women who knew him said anything to me about his relationship with God.

Goodbye For Now

As we get older, our childhood faith transitions to hope as we begin attending our friends’ funerals. Faith in God is no longer simply a culturally acceptable concept. Faith in God is a reality. As life ends, we see clearly that God begins.

I will miss my friend Geoffrey. In fact, I am just now digging out of the last ten days of mourning. I am beginning to think more of the good times we had together rather than just focusing on him being gone.

I hope in those last couple of days in the hospital he asked Jesus to take him to the Father. This is my hope. I’ll see Geoffrey again. Goodbye for now, my friend.