Integrity Matters Broadcasts, 2006
June 7, 2006
A Mentor: Dr. Donald C.
On Friday, June 2, 2006, the three
adult-children of Dr. Donald C. Kleckner asked me to
participate in the memorial service, honoring their father
with my words of appreciation for how he had impacted
my life. Their father had been my mentor for 43 years. Their
request was an honor with sobering demands. How
does one encapsulate four decades of a vibrant relationship
into three minutes? The three minute time - limit
was Don's final request for those invited to speak in
his honor. So, three minutes it was!
Don, Jane and I shared a lunch last fall, 2005, shortly
after his wife, Mary's death. We stayed in contact via
phone, but not often enough. Don was 86. Words of advice! If
you are thinking about contacting a friend, a family member,
a former associate, even a foe, do so or risk the pain
of regret. Integrity is always about doing the right thing,
and one of them is making relationships whole, whenever
possible. Dr. Kleckner, my college dean and president, spoke
often and eloquently about attitude, planning and enthusiasm. His
gifts to me were confidence and preparation.
Dr. Donald C. Kleckner, in Pebble Beach,
California, on April 27, 2004, celebrating with
Jane and Jim Bracher, the launch of Integrity
Below is a copy of my June 7, 2006, Integrity Matters newspaper
column, printed weekly in the Salinas Californian, with
some of my reflections shared during Don's funeral service
at his home church in Redlands, California.
The following is a part of my remarks at a memorial
service for one of my early mentors, Dr. Donald C. Kleckner,
former President of Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois,
whom I first met in 1963 as a freshman. Later he would
become President of Chapman College, Orange, California;
and, then moved on to Redlands University in Redlands,
"Once, and only once, I stood before a homecoming crowd and spoke off
the cuff on behalf of the student government. The following Monday morning,
at 8 a.m., he gave me a stern lecture about preparedness. It was not a two-way
discussion. Accepting any assignment is a moral commitment to be prepared -
no matter when and no matter where. Proper prior planning prevents poor performance." Famous
retailer, J.C. Penney may have originated the phrase, but Don Kleckner knew
how to instill it.
On November 17, 1973, at 3 a.m. California time, then-Chapman
College President Don Kleckner took another call from
me. After listening to my concerns, he suggested that
fear and anxiety are often effectively conquered with
planning and preparation. After thanking him, I stayed
awake until I found a memorial statement that described
how I would like to be remembered: 'When
I die, I hope that those who knew me best will say, "Jim
Bracher did not fear the weather and did not trim his
sails, but instead, challenged the wind itself to improve
its direction and to cause it to blow more softly and
more kindly over the world and its people."'
A photograph of my teacher and mentor of 43 years graces
our board room, a constant reminder to my wife, Jane,
and me, of Dr. Kleckner's wisdom, wit and generosity.
According to Don, "attitude determines altitude
for those who are prepared."
Integrity and relationship lessons his death taught me,
- Contact friends, especially mentors, when you think
of them. Be proactive or risk regret.
- Make each encounter memorable by being supportive
- Listen more than talk; paying attention to the feelings
and needs of others.
- Share important lessons learned with others.
- Write down how you want to be remembered - an epitaph
or memorial statement.
- Measure your integrity by how often your actions
fall within the shadow of your memorial statement.
He made a difference and will be missed. In the meantime,
keep in touch.