Written by Mark Hamerlinck, Assistant Executive Director
Our friend and colleague Adam Czech moved beyond this mortal place late Friday night, leaving behind two young sons, a loving wife and family and a contingent of friends and colleagues large enough to fill Lambeau Field. We who remain are left to struggle with the seeming senselessness of a good man taken from us much too soon.
I was Adam’s boss, probably one of the easiest jobs I’ve ever had. His work ethic was remarkable. Adam did what was asked quickly, confidently and professionally and he took direction cheerfully. When he wasn’t busy, he asked for work. He was kind and funny and generous with his time. We who worked with Adam will remember him that way and those memories now become part of Adam’s legacy.
He was a damn good writer. He could write circles around me. If this piece was Adam’s work, I guarantee you it would be sharper, shorter, smarter. I so wish it was him writing this now.
God, I wish that.
But I can’t assign this one to Adam, so I’ll focus, simplify, get the job done and file the story. That’s what Adam would have done and that’s what I now aspire to, so this, too, becomes part of his legacy.
Looking back, I think about Adam’s work colleagues, so anxious to do something – anything – that would lift some of the burden off Adam and his family. They donated sick time, organized a fundraiser, worked longer hours to pick up the slack, got the work done because it needed to get done. And when any gratitude was given for what they were doing, they brushed if off with, “it’s nothing, how could I not do this?” And in their eyes you could clearly see, “why can’t I do more to make this better?”
That empathy is Adam’s legacy, too.
There were the faces of our farmers, stoic but wet-eyed as they silently pledged money last winter to help ease, at least a little, the financial stress their friend Adam and his family faced. Their care and compassion and decency humbled me, and I won’t ever forget that.
Yes. Adam’s legacy.
And I saw – only from a distance – that through the nightmare that Adam’s wife Julie walked through after Adam’s diagnosis, a woman emerged who was braver, more confident and more capable than I suspect even she thought possible. This ordeal was thrust on her against her will, but despite all the pain and grief, there were still two boys to raise, and what resulted from this awfulness was a strong, resilient woman who will carry on as only a mother who now holds the love of two parents within one body can.
Sadly, but profoundly, this is Adam’s legacy as well.
There are so many other stories of friends, family, acquaintances – Adam’s Pack, every one – who made the meals, kept the house, did the driving, changed the diapers, watched the dog, lit the candles, held hands, prayed, cursed, cried, wiped the tears…
…and loved. They held each other up and loved Adam and loved each other and even if that was all there was to Adam’s legacy, that would be enough.
And so as we say “so long” to Adam, knowing he’s finally safe and pain-free in the arms of eternity, we ask if this senselessness means anything. This is what I think: The meaning we can hold on to when a good man is taken from us too soon is simply to recognize everything we saw and admired in him and what he brought about in others. Then, we emulate that. Wherever we are. Whenever we can.
For me, it means this: Be happy. Put family first. Be who you are and embrace your passions, quirky as they may be. Help people when you can. Lead by example. Do the work.
Because in the end, if we honor Adam by honoring how he lived, his legacy will never die.
Adam’s Pack – Helping Adam’s Family: Click here to donate.
The visitation for Adam will be at the O’Halloran and Murphy Funeral Home (575 South Snelling Avenue, St. Paul) on Friday, November 25 from 3-7 pm.
The funeral will take place on Saturday, November 26 at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, (700 Snelling Ave South, St. Paul). There will be a one hour visitation prior to the service from 1-2 pm. The funeral service will begin at 2 pm and be followed by a time of fellowship downstairs.
A Catholic committal service will be held Sunday, November 27 at 12:30 pm in Sobieski, MN.