The world lost a great man this past weekend. No, you didn’t hear about it on any of the national news shows or probably any local news casts, but you should have. Conall Addison spent a lifetime mentoring, teaching and encouraging 4-Hers to live up to the motto of making the best better. More importantly he spent his whole life living that very moto. I can’t imagine how many thousands of youth and adults he impacted over his lifetime spent as a public servant.
I was blessed to get to know Conall as a co-worker and mentor. In my early years as an Extension Agent, Conall was one of the more veteran agents that I looked up too and hoped that I could be some day. He was one of those great educators who knew exactly what to do in every situation. He handled everything with an ease and a presence that a rookie like me could only marvel at.
Conall had a bigger than life personality that filled every space he entered. If his infectious smile and hearty laugh didn’t make your day better, well, I am not sure what could have. He had a big, booming voice that matched his personality perfectly and drew you into him. However, the thing I will remember the most is his laugh, you had to experience it to understand. He was someone you wanted to be around and to learn from. Conall Addison was a true leader.
I think what I will remember the most about Conall and what I was the most in awe of was the way he encouraged everyone around him. Many times I saw him greet one of his 4-Hers (and it could have been one from 20 years ago, but once you were one of Conall’s 4-Hers, you were always Conall’s 4-Her) and instantly give them a pep talk that was just right for the situation. You left Conall, inspired, encouraged and ready for life.
Even those of us who were not his 4-Hers could count on a warm handshake and a greeting that would make you feel good. I would hate to think about all of the fairs Conall judged, especially the rabbit shows. Just as in everything else, he would make the 4-Hers he was judging feel as if they were the most important people at that time and in that place. He could do that because they were the most important people too him at that very moment. That is a special talent that not very many people have.
After I saw the news, I wondered just how many lives he had impacted. Thousands I am absolutely sure benefitted from his life’s work. I am equally as sure that he would be overly humble and not want any credit. However, his legacy in the realm of 4-H and youth development speaks much more. We need more Conall Addisons in this world. People who work their entire lives making a positive difference in the world around them.
Conall’s life was the definition of a life well spent, a person who made a difference in everything he did. I am not sure how we will have a sheep show at the Kansas Junior Livestock Show without Conall announcing it. He had such a knack for getting the names of every exhibitor and their hometowns right. And there was that matter of including updates on the K-State football score as the afternoon rolled along.
It had been too long since I had seen Conall. Probably at last year’s KJLS, maybe longer than that. In any case it was much too long especially now as I hear the news of his passing. He was a great man who touched my life and made it better in the relatively short amount of time I spent with him. I must say I have a twinge of jealousy for those who had him as an Extension Agent.
This world is a pretty crazy, mixed up place these days with a lot of bad news around every corner. Too often we do not celebrate all that is right and people that are good. Conall Addison was one of the good guys in this world, one who made a difference and that should be celebrated. Conall Addison was the type of person we should all inspire to be.
I am sure Conall would not want us to be sad at his passing and would encourage us to carry on the things that he started. In his honor we should make those around us feel special, focus on the positive things and pass along a joy for life. Above all else we should honor Conall with a deep, hearty, life affirming laugh and appreciate all that is good around you. Conall Addison might not be with us physically but his legacy will live on forever through the many lives he touched.