Chip was a man of quick wit right up to the end, and his skills as a writer were second-to-none. He worked with us almost every day at Swanson Russell until just a few months ago, and even then, our IT department set him up with a computer at home so he could check his email on a daily basis. Chip's dedication was incredible. He spent 45 years at Swanson Russell, making him the longest running employee in the company -- longer than Steve Russell himself.
Chip was a cyclist as well. His exploits in his final Tour de Nebraska were highlighted in this 2005 Lincoln Journal Star article, and I'll never forget how hard it was for Chip when he had to make the decision to stop riding after the Tour de Nebraska that year due to his worsening lung illness. Throughout our relationship, cycling was something that always connected Chip and I however. In fact, in his final email to me, dated April 4, 2008, he wrote the following:
First thing I need to do, Matt, is to say "thanks" for putting up with me these past years and for, occasionally, giving me some work to keep me out of mischief. Second thing is another hearty round of gratitude for being so generous with your encouragement, advice and cycle-engineering skills which got me heavy into biking and helped me have some great experiences. Of course, "heavy" is a relative word, but you encouraged me to get out and put some miles on my Raleigh (expertly refitted by you) and then on my Fisher. But, most of all, I had great fun, thanks to you.
So that's a career you can brag about on your resume: "Teaches old farts to ride, ride, ride."
It was almost as if he knew he wasn't going to see me again... Perhaps he had that awareness. Regardless, I'm glad that he passed as he lived, peacefully, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the brief few years of time that I had with him, and was able to witness his brilliance and peacefulness, and experience the warmth of his love and friendship. To have been counted among his friends is a blessing I thank God for. Today the world mourns the loss of a great man, but celebrates the life of a vibrant spirit. Godspeed Chip Hackley.