Legacy

For those of you who know me, I am rarely at a loss for words. This past week, however, has left me speechless.

There are countless accounts of the challenges we have all faced in 2020. They range from personal loss of loved ones to jobs being affected to swimming in a constant sea of uncertainty. Not one person’s experience is the same. We all hope for this barrage to stop, but it doesn’t. Life has been filled with far more trials than joy.

I had a text on my phone very early Tuesday morning before work asking me to call. I hadn’t responded when the second text stated, “I have some really bad news.” I wasn’t sure what this was going to mean, so I called. I heard the news on the other end and wept. I couldn’t form a word. I wept with my entire body and stood shocked and stunned.

My boss had died unexpectedly and suddenly.

This didn’t seem real, and it still doesn’t. This news was devastating because Kevin, my boss, was also a dear friend. I was asked to share the news with some others, and their response was the same as mine had been. The whole idea of him being gone was surreal and painful. No one was sure how to move forward.

You see, Kevin held a very special place in my life personally and professionally. A little over 14 years ago, we sat across from each other in a booth in one of our pizzerias. He was interviewing me to see if I could join the company as their HR Director. I enjoyed his warmth, laughter and accessibility the moment I met him. Fortunately, he put me forward and I’ve been with the company ever since. I can say that we’ve either seen each other or talked almost every day over those 14 years.

Kevin modeled a behavior I have adopted and valued more than any in my career. Each time I met with him, we talked about people. He talked about them candidly and fondly because he knew so much about everyone. He worked with our company for 45 years, and he could tell you something about each person he encountered whether they worked in our corporate office, manufacturing plant, pizzerias or franchises. He knew every person’s spouse, partner, children, grandchildren and extended families – by name !! He would make “rounds” around the office daily and have rich conversations to make sure others were okay.

He also had an incredible wit and sense of humor. He’d make a comment that would catch you off guard and laugh. He poked fun, and I always enjoyed that. I laughed with him and made sure to share barbs with him as well. He naturally made work human and I admired that. He emphasized that the workplace should always be people-first and that I should always value the work every employee did – especially those on the front lines. He had grown up in the organization as many had starting out in a pizzeria and then growing up in the company.

Kevin also developed others who worked for him. He was very intentional and kept high expectations of people to perform and be accountable. The key to his approach is that he developed others in a very human way as well. It never seemed forced or formal. After some time, you’d see how far he’d encouraged you to grow.

He built a legacy with all of those around him. He invested his time and attention with others throughout every workday. People knew they mattered to Kevin. I don’t think he was even aware he was making such a lasting impact on those around him. With him leaving, we have lost part of our soul. There’s no other good way to describe it. That’s why it hurts so deeply.

This last week has been different. The person I was most connected to wasn’t there to catch up on work items, share a quick story, or check in on how others are doing across the organization. It’s a hollow feeling.

I plan to follow his lead and make sure to invest in others, keep a people-first focus and take time to laugh. I feel there is no greater legacy.

170 thoughts on “Legacy”

  1. Thank you for sharing/expanding Kevin’s legacy with me. He really embodied and added to the culture. Can I offer an idea? Based on your pizzeria interaction, when you interview or talk to someone at LaRosa’s, say “Can I offer a slice of life here?” Talk about Kevin’s culture. “Can I offer you a Kevin slice?” It is physical, metaphorical, and a tribute. Take the time to process what happened in your own way and in your own time.

  2. Steve my sincere condolences, this is hard. I appreciate you sharing your experience. It is truly a blessing to have someone Kevin in your life. He was a light….
    Prayers for God’s comfort and peace for you all.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss, but know that his legacy does and will live on through you as I know you impact others the exact same way he has impacted you!

  4. Dear Steve, 2020 has been a brutal year for you, but living up to the example a departed loved one (either family or friend) and hence ensuring their legacy is by far the best approach. You are admirable and I, like others, am humbled by your strength and insight. Thank you for sharing. I send you love. Kate xx

  5. My prayers are with you, your employees and wrap his family with comfort and peace in there time of need. May God Bless you all!

  6. Sorry for your loss, Steve, but grateful for the investment Kevin made in you and in others. It all counts. Mike…

  7. Steve, I’m so sorry for your loss. However, like Kevin, you have made a profound impact on many people’s lives and also have a legacy. Let’s hope and pray 2021 brings peace and some normalcy. Best to you!

  8. Steve, so sorry to hear of your loss. Losing a kindred soul, one with whom you’ve had such a long and heartfelt relationship is so difficult to put into words, but you’ve succeeded in doing so. Someone like Kevin who cast such a giant shadow, yet not even realizing the impact he had on so many lives just by being himself and intentional is a rarity and one whose memory must be treasured.

  9. Steve, very sorry for your loss and am certain as he had an impact on you – you impacted his life. Stay well.

  10. Very sorry for your loss, Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP I have experienced a sudden loss of a loved one and while devastating, as you write about, it’s also an opportunity – and it sounds like you will honor your friend by creating such opportunities for yourself. Take care.

  11. Sounds like an amazing man to have worked for and with. To know those in his pyramid by name and about their families and interests is priceless. My heartfelt condolences Steve in your loss of a friend and great role model for those around him.

  12. WOW! There for a minute, I thought you were giving us your legacy from heaven because that is the type of a guy I knew as Steve Browne 20 plus years ago in the Greater Cincinnati Human Resources Association. It sounds like Kevin’s behavior and work style only reinforced your character and great personality. Steve, you are a very strong leader to have now survived the tragic loss of not one but two of your closest soulmates in a relatively short period of time under these most unusual times in our journey through life. I just wanted you to know that you share a similar legacy with me, my friend. May peace be with you, the entire LaRosa Inc. organization, and Kevin’s family and friends.

  13. Steve, I was so sorry to hear about your loss. I am confident that you, more than anyone else, will carry on Kevin’s legacy.

  14. Steve, so very sorry. With your memories and the impact that you can make with them, you will create a new legacy. Lead on.

  15. Thank you for sharing your experience and Kevin’s legacy. I personally had a very similar experience in March of 2018 when we unexpectedly lost our boss, mentor, and friend, Jeff Hohler. He was a lot like Kevin…he too made a huge impact on so many people…a genuine and authentic leader who always put people first. His sudden death left so many of us devastated and speechless. His legacy remains embedded in our hearts and minds forever. My sincere condolences to you and the rest of Kevin’s family and friends!

  16. What a beautiful tribute to your boss and friend. The associates at LaRosa’s were certainly fortunate to have worked alongside such a caring person as Kevin. My sincere condolences Steve.

  17. Steve, so sorry to hear about your loss. I know that you have mentioned your boss many times, and how important he is in your life. You, my friend, certainly embody and emote many of the fine attributes that you described in Kevin and know that you will carry on the legacy you shared. Praying for you, Kevin’s loved ones, and the entire LaRosa’s work family.

  18. Steve, what a warm and touching tribute to a very special man. It reminds me of the line from It’s A Wonderful Life – “One man’s life touches so many others, when he’s not there it leaves an awfully big hole.” May you always remember the lessons Kevin taught you and inspire others to do the same. God Bless!

  19. Thank you for sharing your story. My thoughts are with you, as you navigate such a loss. Based on the impact he had on you and others he touched, it is certain that his is a life to be celebrated. ❤️🙏

  20. Steve – Thanks for sharing. This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for so many of us. Although I am sad for you and LaRosa’s for your loss, your story inspires me to be the best I can be to all of my employees and to be their rock even though our current day struggles. Thanks, my friend.

  21. I’m sorry to hear of Kevin’s passing. He left a positive impact on you and the many people he touched on a daily basis. I’m confident that you will carry Kevin’s legacy going forward with passion.

  22. My condolences. This story was a gift to read because I admire you a lot and can only imagine how amazing Kevin was and what he meant to you. I know his 45-year legacy will be carried forward! I will keep you and the LaRosa family in my thoughts!

  23. Steve, sincere condolences. This was beautifully written and a good reminder for us all to keep business human.

  24. Steve, you already keep people first and remind us to laugh. We can all honor people that impact our life by continuing their legacy.

  25. What a beautifully written tribute. He sounded like a giant with his influence and caring. I wish you and those comfort. Mentors like him are invaluable.

  26. So sorry for your loss, Steve. Your words inspire others to be the “Kevin” in their organizations.

  27. What a heartfelt tribute for Kevin. A devastating loss. Clearly, he was a wonderful, kind, and genuine person- leaving our earth too soon. Steve, my heart is with you- and all others who are connected to Kevin. Memory Eternal.

  28. What a gift Kevin’s life, work and example were to you. By sharing it with us, his service to others lives on. I’m sure he’s proud of you, smiling and grateful that you’ve allowed his life’s purpose to continue!

  29. Steve, I am so sorry for your loss. I know you will carry on what Kevin created with your employees. It’s nice to come to work and want to do a great job when you work for someone who cares like Kevin.

  30. I am so sorry for this devastating loss and gaping hole. I wish to affirm that it appears you have long been “following his lead” with how you engage with others and bring ample humor and humanity to the world around you.

  31. Steve – Sorry for the loss of Kevin. I remember him fondly. He was my mentor for a short time. Please give my condolences to everyone in the LaRosa family.

  32. I’m so sorry for your loss. I also experienced the unexpected loss of a close colleague this year and it has been a continued loss as we moved through the weeks and months after, we see his name pop up again and again…on emails, meeting invites, process documentation. The grieving process is ongoing. I wish you and your colleagues’ peace and comfort in your healing journey.

  33. His legacy lives on with those he had touched and you. Everyone should be blessed with an opportunity to meet someone like that during their lifetime. Steve, thanks for sharing and please continue sharing your stories.

  34. So sorry for your loss. He sounds like a very special boss, friend and human! I am sure he will be missed.

  35. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt expression of gratitude and love for this man’s legacy…may the mantle lay upon your shoulders to take what he started to the next level. Blessings.

  36. Oh, my what a loss for you & the company…..so sorry, take care of yourself & reach out to those in the company that need the support. Sounds like you have already adopted many of those same values Kevin had instilled. My condolences to you, the company & Kevin’s family.

  37. Steve, I am very sorry for your loss. We all hope to have leadership at our respective organizations model the same behaviors and values that Kevin stood for and showed LaRosa’s employees every day.

  38. Steve, you are so right. Words don’t begin to explain a legacy like that. I too lost someone last week who was a mentor to many and a co-worker of mine good over 14 years. He too knew everyone by name and showed us all that he truly cared about us and our wellbeing. I remember him counseling done folks on being the bigger person and always doing what was right even if you had been wronged. There is no greater legacy that we can leave behind us than showing others that we care and they are important no matter if it is for work or an organization you belong to outside of work, part of the community, or within our own families. Never take anyone for granted. So very sorry for your loss, but know that you will carry on and continue to share his legacy because that is who you are as a person.

  39. I am deeply sorry to read this and to learn of your friend and colleague’s passing. Thank you for sharing. Several years ago, I too lost a supervisor. There is something surreal about the death of a colleague. Colleagues *don’t* die, they retire, get laid off, or find a new opportunity. In that sense, they always seem invincible to me, I suppose, and that there is a next step. The workplace changes when this happens. Our work colleagues, whether special or not, touch so much of our life.

  40. Steve, I’m so very sorry for your loss. Kevin sounds like he was a wonderful person, mentor, boss and friend. You will continue to carry on his legacy well; I’m sure of it.

  41. Steve, I’m sorry for the loss that you are experiencing, as well as for the entire LaRosa’s organization. And in posting this, you are keeping Kevin’s wonderful legacy alive by reminding us all of the importance of putting people first. Thank you for sharing.

  42. I’m so sorry that you’ve suffered another loss this year. A beautiful tribute to your friend and colleague. My condolences to you and the LaRosa’s family.

  43. I am so sorry for your and your organization’s loss. Thank you for sharing Kevin with those of us who never had a chance to meet him. Just from your words alone, I can tell how great of a person he was. The lines of: “He knew every person’s spouse, partner, children, grandchildren and extended families – by name !! He would make “rounds” around the office daily and have rich conversations to make sure others were okay” really showed how much Kevin cared about those he worked with. This is a true leader, and I hope his legacy will inspire more people. Lead like Kevin.

  44. Steve I am so sorry for the loss, but appreciate you so much for sharing the story and modeling the legacy for all of us. May 2021 be a year dedicated to his legacy.

  45. Steve, this is so sad and tragic. I’m so sorry for your loss. This was such a beautiful tribute to a man who has left a lasting imprint in your life – and the lives of countless others. It truly is a legacy. My deepest condolences and prayers for you and the entire LaRosa’s family during this time of grief and mourning. 💕

  46. Thank you for sharing his / your story. What a super way to temper the loss by celebrating his life and honoring his legacy. Kevin will live on in the words and deeds of everyone who is inspired by his humanity and leadership. He has passed on the baton. Continue onwards. With love and empathy.

  47. Gosh, that’s terrible. My heart goes out to you and everyone who loves and admires Kevin. I didn’t know him, but making a mark on a great guy like you means he had to be very special.

  48. What a beautiful way to commemorate your friendship, and such a powerful statement on how true leaders build legacies.

  49. I am so sorry to hear that your boss passed. You did an amazing job sharing his legacy. He sounded like an amazing person.

  50. So sorry for your loss, Steve. You wrote a touching tribute to your friend. The world needs more people like that and I am happy to know that you are one of them. Prayers for all who loved Kevin.

  51. What a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss Steve. I too had a similar experience, with a CEO. All employees mourned, everyone. So resources were pulled together and a park was built in his name by the employees. How fortunate we are to have worked with such a rare leader.

  52. Steve, I am so sorry for your loss. You have a true ability to connect with others and it speaks highly of someone that has been a role model to you. I know Kevin will be missed by all who knew him.

  53. I’m sorry for your loss, Steve, and for the loss to everyone who came in touch with Kevin. He sounds like a most wonderful person. It seems to me that you’re doing a great job already living the values of his legacy.

  54. Very true words, Steve. As I sat at Kevin’s Mass today, my heart ached for his precious family and the LaRosa family as well. Your work life will undoubtedly be very different, but his lessons and love will live on.

  55. Oh no, Steve. I’m so sorry to hear this news. What a blessing Kevin was to you and so many others. I met him only briefly, but his warmth and genuineness came across clearly. Sincere condolences.

  56. Certainly a tribute to a true role model. Thanks for sharing this chapter in the lives you two shared!

  57. Steve, my heart is with you as you remember your beloved boss. I can’t imagine how lost you and your colleagues must feel today. I hope Kevin’s memory is an inspiration for you all. ❤

  58. Steve – I am sorry for the huge loss that you and your colleagues have experienced. You have described so eloquently the legacy Kevin left behind. “People knew they mattered to Kevin”……What a huge inspiration to me to try to live my life in the same way. Peace to you, my friend.

  59. So sorry for your loss, Steve. It is so hard to lose a mentor and friend. You were privileged to know him and I am sure he was proud of you. You are his ripple~

  60. What a wonderful tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy and sudden death doesn’t give us time to prepare. I’m praying for you and the entire LaRosa’s family.

  61. What an amazing account. Thank you for sharing. I’m truly sorry for the loss of such a tremendous leader, but rejoice in the positive impact he had on many lives.

  62. Very sorry for your loss. An inspiring tribute to someone who touched a lot of lives. Exceptional post. Thanks for sharing your grief and your loss with us, Steve.

  63. So very sorry to hear of such a loss. What a wonderful testament to a friend, leader and humanitarian who made a difference and lasting impact; one person at a time. Prayers to you and all who are feeling the void with the loss of his presence.

  64. Kevin was clearly a tremendous human being whose warmth and energy change the direction of your life and his absence is deeply felt. Thank you for sharing and reminding all of us to be aware and intentional about those we care for because we don’t know when they could be gone. Sending you warm and compassionate thoughts.

  65. I’m sorry about Kevin. What a tragic loss. Not everyone gets that experience with their manager. What a gift to read about his mentoring. Thank you for sharing his personal and professional legacy! My condolences to you, his family, and the LaRosa’s work family!

  66. I am so sorry for your loss. Kevin definitely left a very positive legacy that I see living on within you and how you interact with others. You are a very real blessing as was Kevin.

  67. He must be a great guy to earn such praise from you. Take care, and best of luck managing this new normal for you and your company.

  68. My condolences on the loss of your friend, as well as your mentor. A beautiful tribute to his impact and legacy, not only to the company but to each person he touched in life. One life = many ripples in all directions touching others.

  69. Very sorry to hear of this, Steve ! While impossible or futile to use words, I and many others surely sense the people centricity and genuine care that imbues your interactions. My sincere condolences to the LaRosa family and to you !

  70. What a beautiful tribute to the impact he made not only in your life, but I’m sure many others as well. We can all only hope to leave behind such a touching legacy.

  71. Steve, my deepest condolences on Kevin’s passing. Thank you for sharing his legacy with us. There is no better person than you to keep it alive. God Bless everyone at LaRosa’s today.

  72. Sorry for your loss, Steve! Your boss has left us all a great legacy in you. Thank you for your Fellowship. Sending you and the entire LaRosa family my deepest condolences.

  73. Thanks for sharing. It is an amazing blessing when you have the opportunity to work with people like Kevin. I’m sorry for your loss.

  74. I’m so sorry, Steve. May Kevin’s memory be a blessing to you, his family, and all who knew him.

  75. Hi Steve, so sorry for your loss. Sending prayers and condolences to you and his family during this time.

  76. My sincerest condolences to you and your organization during this difficult time. Sending comfort and strength to all.

  77. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?” Kevin was the right mix of fun and determination to succeed. Steve, if anyone can shepherd us through this tremendous loss, you are the dude!

  78. Amazing tribute and sharing of his legacy. You already model his behaviors. I’ve seen it for over 20 years. I can envision you guys as two peas in a pod. Prayers for you and those who loved him.

  79. Sad to read this Steve. He sounds like an incredible person and it must be comforting to have so many happy and positive memories of your times together.

  80. Sorry for your loss Steve 😔. It’s so apparent that he inspired others, including you, to carry this legacy forward. You honor his memory in your words and deeds. May you find comfort in this and continue to share and build upon this legacy. Prayers for you and all fortunate enough to have known him.

  81. Hi Steve, so touched by your article. I, too, lost a boss most unexpectedly. He gave me my start. I wouldn’t be where I am without him, so I relate to your pain. Sorry you had to write this but your words are beautiful.

  82. Steve…You are living the People First Legacy. You inspire us all. Kevin’s passing is incredibly sad. In his passing, we are reminded of what matters most.

  83. Roomie,

    Touching story and love the way you are taking his Legacy forward. My condolences to you and the LaRosa’s family and organization.

  84. I know how much you appreciated your boss and I’m glad to have met him from one of your introductions. I don’t think you will have any problems carrying on his legacy. Making people laugh? Being intentional about knowing your fellow employee and promoting the LaRosa’s culture? I think you have that covered, amigo! Thoughts and prayers are already there!

  85. Very well done. He will be missed…amazing boss, caring friend and will always hold a special place in my heart!

  86. He meant more to me than I think he knew. He made everyone he talked to feel important and valued. I will never forget him. Thank you for putting what I was feeling into words.

  87. My condolences Steve. That is such a shock when it happens like that so suddenly. Keep the faith and thank you for sharing. 🤗

  88. I am so sorry for your loss, Steve. Kevin made a lasting impression on your life. What a dear friend 💔

  89. Such a touching story Steve. I believe that you do touch the lives of those you meet and know in the same way that your boss did. You are sharing his legacy by just being yourself!

  90. Beautifully written! I will miss our daily banter, updates on the grandkids, stories of weekends at the lake and so much more. Farewell, my dear friend. Always in my heart & never forgotten ❤️

  91. Thanks for sharing this, Steve. You say what we are all feeling. I hate to imagine the office without Kevin, no one will ever take his place. No one will ever make fun of me as good as he did and I will miss it like crazy. He was one of a kind, truly a heartbreaking time for so many.

  92. Such a wonderful post. Kevin will always be with you. Thinking of you, your family and the extended LaRosa’s family. Hugs to you.

  93. How blessed you and the LaRosa community are to have someone so special in your life. You, my friend, are already a testament to his legacy. Big hugs!

  94. Beautiful… He always made me want to be better and believed I could be!!! Sending prayers and hugs to my LaRosa’s family!! ❤️💕❤️

  95. Beautiful tribute Steve! So many of us are all feeling the same way… such a huge loss in our lives. Kevin was our boss, coworker, and friend… such a special gift to all of us and we are better for having known him. He will always be remembered and forever in our hearts! ♥️ May his legacy live on in all of us!!

  96. Thanks for being such an incredible man of character Steve Browne. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m so glad your employees have you!

  97. So sorry to hear about the loss of someone who obviously was so dear to you. Sending virtual hugs your way. You, my friend, are leaving a similar legacy yourself by how you treat and invest in others so freely. I am so grateful to have the privilege of being connected to you. ❤️

  98. Your words are so well said, Steve. Kevin always found a way to make a connection with each person he came across, such a special man!

  99. Steve, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I know 2020 has been a very tough year for you and your family. We haven’t connected in a while, but always here if you need anything.

  100. Such a beautiful tribute, Steve. I am saddened to hear such heartbreaking news. Praying for peace for you and the entire LaRosa family❤️

  101. So nice to have someone so good with words, to describe how we are all feeling. Such a terrible loss for everyone who knew him.

  102. So sorry to hear this. It’s so hard to lose someone who embodies everything we hope to be. You will continue to make him proud. He’s “raised you right.” 😢

  103. Prayers to the whole LaRosa’s family. May his legacy carry you all forward with great success by your great caring for each other.

  104. I’d love to connect, Steve. It seems we have a lot in common these days. The holidays were rough for us. Thinking of you, beautiful tribute.

  105. Very sorry for the loss, Your articulation amplifies your boss’s goodness and the vacuum he left. It’s rare to come across such a wonderful human being. May his memories, love, and time strengthen you, Steve.

  106. Thank you for sharing this Steve. Kevin sounds like a great man and leader who touched many lives. May his memory be a blessing.

  107. I am sorry for your loss Steve. Sharing his stories and continuing his work and attitude is a good way to honor him.

  108. I’m sorry for your loss Steve. Thinking of you as I can imagine the sorrow of losing someone so special.

  109. A lovely tribute, I’m so sorry for your loss. Two big losses in the same year is so hard. “Hollow” is just the right word that you used. I pray for peace for you and know the hollow gets more bearable with time. You will carry on his wonderful legacy.

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