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Remembering those who helped carve a path to success


Most of you are reading this just before Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Freedom to live in a great country with infinite opportunities to worship, work and live without the threat of an oppressive government.

For those – we give thanks.

For others who’ve lost loved ones in this struggle, our heartfelt condolences. Today, I’d like to share with you some folks who’ve been instrumental in my commercial real estate career who sadly are no longer with us. To my knowledge, none served our country but are fondly remembered nevertheless.

Bill Lee

Bill left this world on April 5, 2021, surrounded by friends and loved ones. I wrote a column in this space about Bill’s life and impact on commercial real estate.

Bill’s enthusiasm was contagious. I adored him from the moment we met. His wheels were always turning, and you’d sense it when you spoke to him. He was always open to new ideas and keenly aware of opportunities. Times with Bill were memorable, even his tendency to be chronically late.

I finally learned to tell Bill a meeting was 30 minutes before its actual commencement so that he’d show up on time. Fashionably late indeed!

Because I could never count on Bill’s punctuality, I was acutely aware of my meeting preparation. Thus, I was less reliant on his presence. Maybe that was his intention all along — to train me to be prepared.

Also gleaned was the importance of cooperation with your competitors. Please don’t misunderstand. Bill wanted to beat them to assignments but once the client decided, cooperation was tantamount.

Sam Buchanan Sr.

I had the privilege of knowing my paternal grandfather, Samuel Abraham Buchanan Sr., until his death on March 30, 1975. He was 71. I thought he was an old man. Now that I’m 65, I’ve revised my definition of old.

Grandad founded the Buchanan Bottling Co. in 1930, in Texarkana, Texas. Relocated were his wife and two small boys.

I still marvel at his grit. To take a risk at that time, while the Great Depression was in full swing and a World War was a decade away, to form a business and move his family on hope and prayer all was truly remarkable. Observing the joys and struggles our family business experienced prepared me well for a career advising family-owned and operated manufacturing companies on their real estate decisions.

Sam Buchanan Jr.

As many father-son relationships can be, ours was strained at times. I spent far too much time concerned about his opinion of me.

Shortly after he died on July 4, 2020, I penned this final momento:

“Dad, as an adult, I’ve been the best I could be. I celebrated 40 years of marriage with the love of my life, raised three amazing college grads, have been blessed with five beautiful grandchildren, live debt-free, don’t drink, smoke or do drugs, have achieved success within one of the toughest industries in one of the most competitive markets, have a great relationship with all of our family and enjoy a strong faith in God.”

I have Dad to thank for pressing me to achieve.

Sheldon McKnight

“Shelly” was one of my dearest friends and clients until his death in 2017. My first encounter in 1996 was a sign call.

You see, folks in need of a building used to drive around and call agents whose names appeared on signs.

He described his requirement like this: 4,000 square feet of dock-high space he’d prefer to lease month to month. You brokers understand.

Best case, this was a $200 paycheck. And I should mention that such a deal was rarer than a Big Foot sighting.

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