The world lost a great man today. George Corrigan, aka Big George, aka Greenie. My father-in-law, and honestly the apple of Kelly’s eye (don’t worry Kel, it has never offended me that I’m a solid #2 to the Green Man). No girl ever loved her dad more than Kelly loved Greenie.
I’ve worked in Silicon Valley for close to 18 years. Genius gets tossed around a lot. Software genius, product genius, marketing genius, investing genius. Our geniuses are usually super smart, usually workaholics, often socially awkward, sometimes proudly so. Our geniuses accomplish a lot; on occasion they change the world.
Big George, he was a different kind of genius. If you knew him (and maybe you did, he knew a LOT of people), you wouldn’t call him smart, or necessarily accomplished. He lacrossed his way into college, kicked around for a while, married a little late in life for someone of his generation (swept off his feet by Mary Dwyer at a wedding, proposed to her that night, the fact that he was, at that time, engaged to someone else was barely a speed bump), sold advertising pages in Good Housekeeping. Loved his family, loved his church, loved lacrosse. He was a regular guy.
But you sure liked him. Because he liked you. He was thrilled to know you. He was interested in you and your life and what you did. Not an act. Kelly nailed it, in The Middle Place, when she wrote that Big George’s “default state was open delight”. Big George was a genius at being happy. And he was a genius at making you happy.
For one thing, Big George was utterly present. Whatever he was doing had his full attention, whether it was coaching Radnor Lacrosse (something he did into his 80s), telling jokes with his brothers, or eating a bowl of ice cream. At that moment, that bowl of ice cream was the greatest thing in the world.
For a second thing, he was current. By that, I mean he had relationships, deep important relationships, across all generations. He coached probably a hundred kids at Radnor over the last 10 years. He really knew those kids, and loved them, and they loved him.
In a certain way, despite the fact that his body failed him, he always had a very boyish quality to him, that was just awesome. Even last Friday, playing Rummikube with his granddaughters on the last day when he was some semblance of himself, hoisting himself up for a victory dance.
I could go on and on, but I’ve got to get on the red-eye tonight and go be a Corrigan.
If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area in the next few days and hear some strange clinking, it is assuredly people raising their glasses to Big George. You should too.