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A Tribute to Bernie Kelly

Posted by Tom Rogers, CEO on Jan 21, 2020 12:32:37 PM

After 35+ years, we congratulate Bernie Kelly on his retirement from the LEWIS family of companies. Although there were many wonderful speeches from the senior executives during the farewell luncheon, following is the tribute from Tom Rogers, CEO. 

Humble, kind, caring, cheerful, intelligent, pure in heart, salt of the earth, encouraging, positive attitude, always smiling colleague and friend. 

ESOP Retirement SpeechIn my vast network of people who have come into and out of my life, and those currently in my life, not one of them in my opinion, can check the box next to every attribute I mentioned except Bernie Kelly! 

Bernie joined Lewis on April 16, 1984, nearly 36 years ago, as an accounting clerk and rose to a senior executive. 

Bernie has been married to his lovely wife Susan for 39 years and they honeymooned at the Buccaneer Resort in St. Croix, VI. Bernie and Susan were gifted with their daughter Tessa. Tessa is a pharmacist working in a VA hospital serving our veterans. And I know their love for her is greater than the air they breathe. 

When Bernie started that April day in 1984, he showed up in a 1983 Ford Escort. I soon learned the reason he was driving a brand new car: Susan worked at Kodak.

When Bernie started in 1984, the world was very different. Bill Cosby was America's dad when the Cosby show premiered. Other hallmarks were the: 

  • Introduction of stonewashed jeans 
  • News headlines when Michael Jackson's hair caught on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial
  • First informercials 
  • First megabit chip (made at Bell Labs) 
  • Release of Macintosh computers from Apple 
  • Discovery of the AIDS virus
  • PMRC (Parents' Music Resource Coalition) campaign to educate parents about certain alarming new trends in rock music 

Speaking of the music of 1984, when Bernie was driving to and from work, he was most likely listening to all of the top songs such as:

  • Madonna, Like a Virgin
  • Van Halen, Jump
  • Prince, When Doves Cry
  • Bruce Springsteen, Dancing in the Dark
  • Tina Turner, What's Love Got to Do with It


All classic rock and roll. So, at one time, us boomers were cool, too. 

We can't replace 36 years of company and industry knowledge. Let alone, Bernie's work ethic is second to none. He has always been passionate and diligent about how he approached his work and responsibilities. 

Bernie, I will miss you! And I will remember you, Susan and Tessa in my prayers. Prayers of a long, happy and healthy retirement. 

From all of us, Godspeed Bernie! 

ESOP executiveESOP Retirement Vegetation Management

Bernie & Susan and Bernie on his last day


CEO Vegetation Management CFO ESOP Retirement

Tom Rogers and Bob Petrone's tributes to Bernie


VP of Finance ESOP

Bernie's standing ovation 


ESOP Retirement Pays Off

Bernie's ESOP retirement confetti 


ESOPs are sweet ESOPs are hearty

Cupcakes and Dinosaur Bar-b-que: Bernie's favorites


Tree Trimming CEO and VP Finance Employee Owners

Hugs from our CEO and congratulations from the Dinosaur caterers! 

Topics: esop, retirement

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