Leadership Thoughts | Special Edition
On Friday, September 8, 2023, I received the following text from Erin Scalese, Duff's Rearick's daughter. "We come to you this evening with broken hearts. We want you all to know that early this morning, Duff was called home to Heaven.
While our lives will never be the same, we are eternally grateful for the blessings we have received through our darkest hours. We felt each of your prayers lifting us up and allowing us to be by his side until his final breath here on Earth. Duff lived a life of faithful service. He was beloved by each of you reading this message. We grieve now with you, and for the loss we know each of you is feeling. Please take comfort in knowing that Duff passed peacefully with his family by his side. We rejoice in the amazing homecoming in Heaven. He is now free."
Duff Rearick, Jay Scott, and I formed a triad over forty years ago to grow and develop as leaders and people. We manage to meet on a regular schedule, even in the busiest of times. We challenge each other's thinking and give counsel when necessary. During our encore careers, we travel the state and country, working with schools and organizational leadership teams to provide guidance and support in area leadership, strategic design, culture, improvement, and transforming education.
Duff was a remarkable individual, an educational leader whose wisdom, grace, and compassion touched the lives of countless students, teachers, and colleagues. This eulogy is dedicated to his memory, a masterful leader who impacted the lives of so many. In my opinion, I believe the words that best describe Duff are wisdom, grace, and compassion.
Legacy of Wisdom
Duff was a revolutionary leader in the field of education; his brilliance knew no bounds. His aim was not merely to lead but also to cultivate people's curiosity and challenge their thinking. He had earned the nickname Maven among our tight-knit group. Duff's knowledge was multifaceted—he could debrief Bible stories as if he were the author himself—but learning and teaching were his forte.
Duff's wisdom was not only gained through his readings and worldly experiences, but instead, he saw the entire world as a place of learning. His ability to bridge different cultures and times was remarkable. Everyone who encountered him had their minds opened up to new ideas and concepts.
Grace and Compassion
Duff was renowned for his boundless mercy and kindness. He often reminded Jay and me that God grants us grace, so we should do the same for others. Grace isn't something we can earn; it is given unconditionally. To him, grace meant forgiving mistakes, providing respect, and acknowledging someone's worth. His extraordinarily acute ability to connect with people from all classes enabled him to make everyone feel respected and understood. Even though he sometimes appeared stern on the outside, it was only a cover-up to protect his true essence of gracefulness and empathy, which formed the foundation of his leadership and life.
Duff would pay close attention to the worries of his other, giving a helping hand, comfort, or advice wherever needed. He understood not only the role of a leader but also to take care of the emotional and mental states of those around him. Because of his generosity and kindness, Duff created a safe and supportive space for everyone to learn and develop both in their job and life.
A Lifelong Journey
Throughout his life, Duff was driven to improve the world through wisdom, grace, and compassion. His impact left an indelible impression on the lives of all those he encountered. Duff served as a beacon to guide people towards their destiny and purpose. He not only embodied greatness but also was a great friend. Even after his death, Duff's ideals of wisdom, grace, and compassion will continue to influence countless individuals. His legacy still shines bright in the hearts and minds of those inspired by him and moved by his profound impact on their lives. Duff Rearick's lessons of the values of gracefulness and sympathy will remain alive, aiding those he reached with the understanding and empathy necessary along life's path.
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