“An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break. May you be open to each thread that comes into your life – the golden ones and the course ones – and may you weave them into a beautiful life.”
~ Ancient Chinese proverb
Today’s outhouse VIP is J. Wendel Cox. You haven’t met him before because he lives in Tucson, Arizona. He’s one of the smartest, most charming men on the planet. There’s something much greater about Wendel, however, and that is his enormous heart. His compassion runs deep, and his friendship is as true as true can be.
Wendel was my predecessor in the National Digital Newspaper Program. That’s how we met ten years ago. He left in 2007, and even though we’ve kept in touch all this time, we haven’t seen each other until today when, as a candidate for the Director of Research in Special Collections, he was back in Lexington. I think we both would have preferred a less stressful reunion, but when friends live thousands of miles apart, you just have to go with it.
Apart from his nerves, Wendel hasn’t changed a bit. Many of the people in Special Collections are new to Wendel, so they can’t appreciate how he looks exactly the same as he did a decade ago. It’s a sign of his good living I suspect. More importantly, his spirit feels the same. His smile still radiates the room. His wit remains top shelf (who else could work a salmon canon into a presentation about mainstreaming Special Collections?). One of the reasons Wendel and I hit it off is because he understands the importance of making a contribution to something bigger than himself. His work is not all about him. He loves Kentucky, and some of the things we’ve managed to do to help our commonwealth. That was essentially his answer when someone asked why he was interested in this job. Whether or not he comes back to Kentucky, I will always be grateful to know Wendel, and I consider him one of the finest people I have ever known.