I will really miss my friend, Cindy Cassell

To me, Facebook is an emotional cesspool that I don’t need to fish in right now. December hasn’t traditionally been a great month for me (because of a lot of personal historical events) so I don’t have great memories.

I’ve also found Facebook to be a depressant for many, many reasons, so I’m not on there from November to February. In fact, I might not ever go back on there again.

I wanted, however, to publicly state my thoughts and admirations about my friend and former co-worker, Cindy Cassell (since I’m not on Facebook, where I’d normally write this type of thing).

The short version is that my life had fallen apart in early 2004 via a divorce, so I decided to make a change, and I moved from my hometown to Knoxville.

My new job was as the General Sales Manager at WIVK. Cindy was one of 11 salespeople on the sales staff.

On March 30th of that year, I met with the sales staff at 8:30 am to be introduced and to introduce myself to the sales staff and do the obligatory spiel of “what to expect going foward, etc.”…. (the typical paternoster of a new manager that most of you have experienced at one time or another.)

At the end of my speech, I asked: “What questions do you have?”

Cindy raised her hand an and asked “Do you have pets?”

That was the first question I had!

Throughout my tenure at WIVK, the first few years were rough. REAL ROUGH. But I was determined to do the right things and make a difference. If the “right things” didn’t matter to the company or station I worked with, my attitude was “whatever… if they fire me, I’ll move on. No sweat.” I could find another job.

There was a lot of dysfunction and idiosyncrasies at WIVK that I had never experienced in my many years as a radio sales manager- and I had been in management since I was 25 years old. I knew I’d have to make some unpopular decisions that would cause a lot of cognitive dissonance.

My biggest decision was to answer these questions: “is this something I want to even deal with? Do I have the endurance to see this through?” Fortunately for me, I could walk away and do something else if I wanted. Turning the WIVK sales situation around to the standards I wanted would take a herculean effort.

I was in a new to Knoxville and very alone, and I was fighting an ugly divorce situation down south. I was trying to follow my conscious and do what was “right”… my thought process has always been (thanks to my mom) was to do what was “right” – and let the chips fall wherever.

“Right” to me, meant that my conscious wouldn’t keep me from sleeping because of a decision I made. “Sometimes a conscious can be a pest.”

Cindy Cassell’s ethics, honesty and integrity helped me endure at times when I thought I couldn’t endure anymore. Several times I thought I was at the end of my rope and was about to throw up my hands and say “fornicate it!”

Almost always, an unexpected vote of support, either verbal, or through a handwritten note from someone (mostly Cindy) helped me to continue.

I called Cindy “the ethics police” and I meant it as a compliment.

I soon learned that she had a clear sense of “right” and “wrong” and I respected her opinions and contributions to what we were trying to accomplish.

I was shocked and shaken at the time I heard of her death. It has upset me beyond how I can tell you.

I have about five notes and cards I have saved that Cindy wrote to me. Because of her honesty and ethics, those notes have always meant a lot to me. I know she was putting her thoughts down from her heart and deep convictions.

She had given me these notes of appreciation and support during my toughest times after moving to Knoxville. Those simple handwritten notes mean the world to me. They helped me to keep going, and to do the “right” things in the face of resistance and adversity.

Never underestimate the value of a sincere note of appreciation to someone. It means a lot to the recipient.

Many of these notes were during my VERY early years at WIVK, when I was wondering “is this worth the work I’m doing? Will anyone appreciate what we’re trying to do here? Is anyone on my side? Does anyone care?”

Cindy’s notes kept me going.

Whenever I’d take a rare trip to the beach, I’d ask Cindy if she’d look in on my feline roommates and feed them and deal with their litter boxes, etc. I think she would have paid ME to do it. She would literally squeal when she’s see my roommates. My roommates are the only family I have, and her excitement and enthusiasm in helping them always meant a lot to me.

I’m still very upset as I write this. I actually broke down as I saw her son, Jason, today, telling him how much I respected his mom and how much I will miss her.

Everyone, settle your debts and make peace wherever you can. Cindy is a perfect example that life is very short.

This one hits me harder than most anyone knows.

Appreciate what you have and God Bless.

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