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A Legion of Inspired, Hopeful, and Smarter-Thanks-to-Him Cooperators

Hi all,

Some of you remember well, I am sure, the little store we inhabited on Burdick Street. In 2008, we invited a man named Bill Gessner to come to Kalamazoo from Minneapolis, and instruct myself, our board, and our budding management team about how to expand and relocate our quirky little store. During his visit and the calls we had for years after, he asked hard questions, taught me to breathe, inspired the board to live into their best leadership selves, beat the pants off me at ping pong, and generally left me feeling like we could, indeed, make this big idea of expansion a reality.

In 2011, as you know, we moved to our new, beautiful home on Harrison. Bill was so excited for us! And proud with us. The next year, in 2012, Bill was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame. Here's how he was described at the induction ceremony: "Loyal, loving, generous, unassuming, humorous, playful, even quirky. Thoughtful, visionary, patient, determined, incredibly strategic.” 

Over the years since, I have had the good fortune of seeing Bill many times, at national cooperative meetings and conferences, and continuing to benefit from his wisdom, his humor, and his inspiration. A highlight was sitting at minor league baseball game with him, in San Diego, I think, having him gush about how excited he was for PFC.

Well, last week, I'm sad to say, we lost Bill Gessner to health issues. This loss has given me pause, taking time to reflect on all the amazing people - staff members, managers, consultants, owners, owner-lenders, customers, vendors, farmers, and friends - the legion of inspired, hopeful, and smarter-thanks-to-him cooperators he's left behind, and all we've done together to move the PFC in the direction it goes, aiming to better and better serve the community every day. 

I am immensely grateful to be in your midst. 

Bye Bill. Thank you so very much for inspiring us. We're better for all you were.

Have a good week everyone.