I am told that Jock Menzies died unexpectedly on Friday, August 16.
“He was a burning and a shining light: and we were for a season to rejoice in his light.” (John 5:35)
While the issues Jock advanced were serious, troublesome and treacherous, it was easy to rejoice in his presence. He was a persistent source of intelligence, deep experience, good hope, and practical love.
I depended on him, his network, and his judgment for much of what I have accomplished over the last three years. We were to have dinner together this Wednesday night. The meeting will focus on a wonderful opportunity for private-public collaboration that is endangered by bureaucratic myopia. I explained to others I was inviting Jock because he is “especially well-wired and a wise man.”
As important, Jock listened carefully and sympathetically especially when he profoundly disagreed. We had worked together for nearly two years before I heard him express real frustration with another, and even then it was with a sort of absurdist humor that emphasized our shared human tendency for folly.
His work spanned preparedness, response and recovery. Jock was a strategist who could also work the phones to get a critical shipment of pharmaceuticals into a disaster zone just in the nick of time. He was a broker, communicator, facilitator who — especially in his role with the American Logistics Aid Network — helped translate the very different languages and worldviews of the private and public sectors.
Jock’s death is a serious blow to private-public collaboration in homeland security. Despite every effort to institutionalize his role, Jock was often the indispensable personal link that allowed huge institutions (and the sometimes huge ego of others) to dispense with self-absorbed distractions and focus on concrete challenges and opportunities.
He became indispensable because in a room full of people wanting to be in charge and demonstrate their power or insight Jock wanted to save lives and lessen the pain of the afflicted. He was my hero.
Hundreds even thousands will be sad to hear of Jock’s death. May we honor his memory — and celebrate his life — by listening more carefully, responding more positively, and living more gently with one another. Perhaps together we can retrieve some small portion of the grace we have lost with his premature passing.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine