The letter below was written to Ken by Nigel’s best friend of many years, Lawson Thompson. Lawson’s letter was one of the last Ken was able to hear, received just about a week before he passed. It is touching and kind, and I know Granddad appreciated it.
Lawson is the second person to recently mention Granddad’s humility (the chaplain at his service did as well). Initially it did not strike me as a word to describe him (Lawson also mentions “candor”), but on second thought, Lawson and the chaplain were right. Though often outspoken and larger than life, he was not boastful of his own accomplishments, and we all know he had much to be boastful about. So thank you Lawson for taking the time to write this thoughtful letter.
My introduction to Ken came through a video I saw in about 1985 of the gentleman (sic) emerging from a bathroom clad solely in a kitchen pot, a small one. He was laughing but no one else; (they were gasping or sobbing). So I expected him to be an unusual bloke and when we finally met he didn’t disappoint.
First of all, he cleaned Nigel’s and my clocks every time we played golf to the point where we, thirty years younger, were asking for strokes. His drives were so accurate he nearly hit the 150 marker every time and wondered would he get a stroke credit if he did. He never did give us strokes and to my recollection never lost to either one of us. He is probably into each of us for over a hundred bucks. But he would buy us a beer in the clubhouse, while he was counting his winnings.
Secondly, he generously provided a great venue from which to play golf, the condo at Seascape, and in return we never got into his or Doris’ stash. Although, one year I furnished toilet paper, Scott’s (I was in a hurry), a large supply, and was later told if I ever brought any of that into the condo again I was off the guest list. According to Nigel, that came right from the top. (Or the bottom.)
We were at Nigel and Donna’s wedding at Destin and playing golf; I was wearing shorts. We were on the tenth tee or so and I Ken was looking at me a little strangely. He finally allowed, “Lawson you’ve got the hairiest knees I’ve ever seen; like an ape or something.” Ken always has been candid if nothing else. (The knees are bald now.)
I assisted him slightly when the hurricane hit Houston a couple of years back and he graciously sent Sylvia and I a very generous gift. That is a classy example for us, especially you, Nigel.
But the most striking aspect of Ken is his humility. In all the years I have known him, he never mentioned the fact that he developed a new formula for refining petroleum and had earned a Phd. in Science in London. Or was recruited like a star quarterback by the Americans. I had to read it in his recent autobiography. Of course, Nigel can recite the factor Pi to about the sixteenth digit, but you know Nigel. I didn’t know it was inherited.
Ken and Doris have been great friends and wonderful mentors more by their actions and
lifestyle than by instruction. As wealthy and successful as they are, you would never know it to talk to them and they are as down to earth and genuine as anyone I have ever met. They raised kind and gentle children, although a bit odd, (one of them) but as nice as you would ever want to know. That is one of the greatest compliments I can ever pay to anyone.
Ken and Doris have truly been a blessing to Sylvia and I.
And we like riding in the red Cadillac!
Best Wishes in this Peaceful Season,
Thank you again for your kind words and thoughts. And thank you to you and Sylvia for traveling all the way to Houston for Ken’s service. It was very nice of you to be there.
I plan to share more about the service in a future post. Until then…