Back on December 6, 2015, I bid a ceremonial farewell to my late husband Greg, through a celebration of his life at the Salamander Resort, near what had been our last home together in Middleburg, Virginia.
Now, exactly one year and a half later, over the two weeks approaching Greg’s 54th birthday on June 6, 2017, I am taking the opportunity to post transcripts of the tributes that were delivered on the day of his memorial.
Below is a transcript of the tribute delivered by Mark Hanson, Greg’s longtime boss and colleague at Freddie Mac. Original video here.
I’m Mark Hanson, and I had the pleasure of knowing Greg and Alysoun for about the last twenty years. But I think two things are starting to emerge in these great remarks and reminiscences.
Whether you knew Greg as a teenager or as a 50-year-old, he was the same guy – right? Everything you’re describing, I can imagine from Greg later in his life.
The other thing that’s striking me now is that even though it sounds like we’re sharing the same speechwriter, we don’t. We’re all just meeting each other for the first time.
It strikes me that, you know, Greg did a lot of job hopping, if you will. I used to think it was his issue – it’s our issue. This was like a high stakes game of Go Fish. As soon as you lose a card of value, you can’t wait to get it back in your hand. And each one of us tried to hire Greg how many times? Two-three-four times over the course of his career? It was never-ending, and we all had near misses, and next time we’ll make this happen … we all shared the same experience. So I have a few prepared remarks, but I think that what’s so endearing about this moment is it all so deeply resonates with us. We all knew Greg for the person he was, and how he treated people. So I’ll begin with this.
I’ve never known somebody like Greg Reiter. In fact, I’m not sure any combination of my friends could even approximate what Greg was. When I think of him there’s this rush of qualities – many have been mentioned. He was compassionate – above all, compassionate. He was intelligent. His energy was off the charts. His allergies were off the charts. (laughter) He was curious. He was enthusiastic. Selfless. Funny. Driven. All these things that you would hope for in people that you surround your life with.
When I first met Greg, we worked at Freddie Mac together but I didn’t really know him. We had some kind of Wall Street dinner. Somebody had made a lot of money doing something – I forget what it was. And there were about a dozen of us who went out to eat in Virginia. And I’m not sure why, but I knew that night I wanted to get to know who Greg was. And I don’t recall the circumstances, but after that dinner, I knew I had to offer Greg a job – or he had to offer me one. One way or another, we had to work together. And it served as the telling dynamic for the next twenty years. And it sounds like it’s a very shared experience. I just wanted to be with Greg, to learn from him, to share with him, to laugh, to be inspired by him.
Now, I’m not telling anybody anything they don’t know. Greg made his presence felt in a way that is so unique. There’s no hiding who he was.
I think corporate life – and it was alluded to earlier – is flawed in so many ways. But one thing that it does for me is it helps me see how people treat people – and do they show a different side of themselves to one part of the org chart than the other. That wasn’t Greg at all. In that regard, his character and values were never more clear. His generosity of time and talents, his compassion – he lavished in every direction.
Just trying to get through an airport with Greg was hard, because there was always somebody who he had just met who he could help. You know, whether she was struggling with the tickets, or there was somebody who had just spilled something in the hallway, his compassion was overflowing.
He also taught us, I think, about living life your way – his way. While he never dwelled too long at any one job, each transition was purposeful – and often the result of something that was motivating him beyond work.
His latest endeavor with Alysoun, I think, is one of the best examples of this. Their commitment to the farm, the sanctuary, was a calling …. is a calling. It’s a testament to their shared beliefs, their values. Greg wouldn’t let a job disrupt that.
His commitment to his mom and his sister were also front and center in his life. His concern and caring were frequent topics for us. No matter what was going on in Greg’s life, he never lost perspective of that goal and those responsibilities.
Over the years, Greg and I shared a lot of road trips. We visited investors throughout the country and into Asia. It’s a bit sad that or all the traveling we did, we were probably two of the worst travelers I have ever known. Between air sickness, nausea, plugged ears – Greg and I saw ourselves with all of our defenses down. And it was the same Greg. The same Greg that was filling up the air bag was the guy you saw when he got promoted or recognized.
He was just Greg. He had no pretenses – ever.
I started asking people around the office the other day – I said, “so what’s your favorite memory of Greg?” And a little bit surprising to me was something that they remember most was his salty humor. For some of those in the room. I think it wasn’t for all of them, because Greg knew his audience really well, and for those that appreciated it, he could play with the best of them. Whether it was turning off your office lights, flipping you off, telling you you were terrible things, you couldn’t help but burst out in laughter, and just love his uncontrolled joy in those moments, and you shared with them.
He never ceased to amaze me. He was beyond entertaining – I think he was enthralling. He captured our attention and our hearts all at the same time. So my heart goes out to Alysoun and to all of us here today. I really struggle with the events. Particularly with the accident and it all. He gave us so much, and he had so much more to give.
But what gives me some solace is this kooky vacation I took my family on a couple years ago. We were in Mexico and we were trying to understand more of the Mayan culture and the rest, and there were all these gift shops throughout with skulls decorated in all sorts of different ways. Beautiful. So I asked one of the artists – I said, you know, so what’s the fascination with death…and skulls… and art? And he described moments later kind of his own belief his own belief about life, which I find very useful in times like this.
And for him he said something that beings as we know them have two passings from this world. First they separate from their physical selves. We celebrate and we come together in those moments. He said, but, the more important passing in life is how long are you remembered? How long does that person stay with you?
Greg is off the charts going to have longevity in that regard.
For me, I won’t forget Greg, or the time we shared. I doubt you will, either. With each memory I’ll feel the same warmth, the same smile that he produced in each one of us.
Long live Greg’s memory with each and every one of you. Thank you.