Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Passing of a Legend

"Legend" is not a word to be used lightly, and rightly so. When someone is referred to as a legend, more often it is reserved for those in the public eye, and usually in sports.

Cal Ripken, Vince Lombardi, Arnold Palmer.    

Those of  us in the insurance field have legends too but rarely are their names known outside of our "inner circle". Ben Feldman, Mehdi Fakharzadeh, Al Grannum.

Not exactly household names.

We lost a legend last week.

Frank Stastny, pronounced Staz-nee.

Frank was an unassuming man with a gentle spirit and incredible sense of humor. A humble man who had done well in life, mostly by just being himself.

I should note that I never met Frank personally. Never heard him speak in public, but we did chat on the phone on several occasions.

When I "met" Frank he lived on a goat farm in Missouri. He raised goats, I suppose, for profit. I can't imagine anyone raising goats for fun.

Frank's claim to fame was his incredible wealth of knowledge about Medicare and especially his real love (other than his wife Jacqueline), Medicare supplement plans.

Medigap plans (the other name for Medicare supplements) were his specialty. Roughly 17 years ago he started selling Medigap plans and never looked back.

Over that time period he met thousands of seniors, made friends with all of them and even turned several hundred in to clients.

Never pushy. Always willing to educate those who would listen. And that is how I met Frank.

He was part of an online community of insurance agents. In a world of anonymity, Frank stood out, not only for his willingness to share information and train anyone who was willing to learn, but he did not hide behind a moniker (although we did affectionately refer to him as the goat man).

If anyone posted a question about Medicare, usually the first response was "Frank will be along shortly to answer your question".

There may be people that knew more about Medicare supplement plans than Frank, but he was our acknowledged guru.

A friend and fellow agent started a thread on May 7 that was simply titled "Frank Stastny - RIP". At first, several thought it was a sick joke. The one who posted the comment is known for his warped sense of humor but this seemed to be credible, and totally out of character even for him.

A few questioned it, but slowly the reality sank in.

Frank Stastny really was gone.

Five days later and almost 200 comments and condolences, the thread is still alive. Frank's widow threw us a loop a few days ago when she logged in under Frank's persona and posted a word of gratitude for all the kind words.

There are literally countless other threads on the forum filled with thanks to Frank for his support, training and encouragement.

As Yogi would say, "They must have been posted before his death".

Yes, they were.

Almost invariably the thread would be hijacked by someone poking gentle fun at Frank, but done in a way as to convey the love and respect we held for this man.

"God believes Frank created the universe".

"When Frank bowls, he bowls overhanded".

"The worlds most interesting man brings Frank a latte and cookie every morning".

"Frank's personality is so magnetic he is unable to carry credit cards"

"Frank counts to infinity every morning before breakfast".

Dare I say, Frank was loved?

Loved, and sadly missed by all, even though most never met the man . . . but they did know the legend.

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