It was just another Thursday morning in August until a text message would change my life forever.
J. Barrey Williams had missed his hospital appointment – one that he made every Thursday for months prior.
He would usually end those Thursdays catching up with friends over a nice Shiraz and a cigar.
Unfortunately, those wonderful moments would no longer be.
11 August 2017, was the day I lost one of my dearest friends and mentors.
I met Baz, as I called him affectionally, in June 2005. I had just moved to Perth to restructure six companies and asked colleagues at the then vibrant WA Club to introduce me to someone who would show me around Perth.
Who better than the CEO of the Club, they recommended, as he walked-in on our lunch with his booming voice and even louder bow-tie. Sitting himself at our table he spent the following hours entertaining us with his larger than life stories of accomplishments until late into the evening.
Within days I invited him to be my chairman and the rest was history.
Name a significant West Australian to Baz, and he would tell you all about her/him – invariably with an unbelievable anecdote.
Most recently, when I inquired if he would introduce me to the great Dennis Cometti to see if he would be involved with our basketball team, he confidently assured me of my prospects in his usual flamboyant flair adding that he gave the broadcasting legend his job at Channel Seven. I took the meeting but dismissed the claim as I sometimes did – given the outrageousness of it.
Of course, Baz was right! As he always was.
There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of lives that Baz had changed for the better with little regard for his own.
Almost every WA charity has had some help from J Barrey Williams – volunteering to MC their formal events, chair their boards, help raise funds, introduce benefactors…selflessly and without any strings attached.
Ever smiling. Up-beat. Telling everyone he met how good they were, identifying their potential, re-affirming their abilities, encouraging them to reach higher.
You were always the better for every encounter with him.
I would not be who I am today if it were not for Baz.
It’s a year today that my dearest friend left our world. Not a day has passed that I have not missed him. I don’t think there ever will.
His was the only photo I had in my office these last 12 months – not even pictures of my kids or family. That’s how much he meant to me.
As we celebrate the anniversary of his passing, I can only aspire in some small way to try to share his joy, hope and love with those I encounter in my life.
Yet, somehow I don’t think I could ever light a candle to his beautiful radiance.
Perhaps a cigar and Shiraz in his memory will have to suffice.
Vale J. Barrey Williams. You left this world a better place, yet it is the lesser without you.