I was driving to work this morning when I received a phone call from Ira Black, my former boss at The Mariner and Nor’easter. He was passing on the unpleasant news that our former salesman and friend Bob Liddell had died early this morning. I hadn’t spoken to Bob for a while, caught up in my own life and problems as I frequently get, and the news hit me pretty hard.
I first worked with Bob at The Mariner back in 1997. We were among the group of six Mariner staff members who left in 2001 to found Nor’easter, along with Ira, Jennifer Null, Shannon Webb and Donna Kaehn. Bob was a salesman and, as such, could be difficult on occasion, but he was a genuinely good guy with a big heart. And he loved to talk. Sometimes, our eyes would gloss over as he showed off pictures of his most recent cruise to some exotic locale or another, or the newest parrot-shaped trinket he’d added to his Jimmy Buffett concert-going hat, but his enthusiasm was apparent and genuine in everything he did.
Looking back now, I don’t think we could have hand-picked a more strong-willed, bull-headed group of people than we had at Nor’easter. We would argue and fight almost constantly, sometimes throwing things (I still have a dent in my forehead with a White-Out logo on it). But ultimately, we were all in it together. We had taken some pretty sizable risks to get Nor’easter off the ground, but despite our differences, we all were focused on the same goal. The more time passes, and regardless of how things turned out, the more respect I have for that time and those people. Despite our differences, it was a unique experience unlike any I’ve found since.
I spent a good amount of time with Bob over the course of those years; traveling with him on the road for sales calls, hauling magazines to boat shows, just hanging around the office and any number of other occasions. I’m proud to have called Bob my friend.
Donna passed away near Christmas of the end of our first season. Then, a few years ago, when the Nor’easter that we founded started to fade, the original crew that came from The Mariner began to sail off in our separate directions; first Jen, then Shannon, then myself and finally Bob. We saw each other on occasion since then, phone calls and a few lunch meetings, but not often enough. After the unhappy news of this morning, not nearly often enough. Life seldom allows you to have the things you chase after very often or for very long, so it was perhaps inevitable that circumstances would pull the team we had apart. It’s only now, a few years removed, that I really appreciate what we had, for as brief a time as it was.
I know that there’s been some bitterness and angry words between past and present Nor’easter, but today is not a day for that. Bob Liddell, who was instrumental in Nor’easter’s very existence, passed away this morning. Today is a day for honoring him. I would like to make a suggestion, if I may. Bob’s name should be included in the Nor’easter masthead, right there beside Donna’s. Given his contributions, I think it would be a fitting tribute to the man to be recognized in every issue for as long as it exists.
I can see Bob now, propped up in a deck chair aboard some great heavenly cruise liner, drink in hand, plying the warm, blue-green waters of some celestial paradise somewhere, with strains of Jimmy Buffett playing nearby. It’s all Cheeseburgers in Paradise for him now. Thank you, Bob. We couldn’t have done any of it without you. We’ll miss you, my friend.