Farewell, Ted

I never used to look at the obituaries in the newspaper. I was too young to worry about seeing notices of friends, and acquaintances passing. That changed as I grew older. Today it remains the first page that I turn to. I have learned a great deal in reading those tributes to people. They have shed light on children and relatives that I never knew they had. I have learned of their struggles to live and grow their families not only in the district, but across this land.

Back in 1972 when I was fresh out of university, I began selling advertising in Fort Frances and more importantly to the businesses in Devlin, Emo, Barwick, and Nestor Falls. I learned important lessons from those many businesspeople who taught me more about selling and building relationships with the customers I worked with. In Emo Gordon Meyers, Charlie Tompkins, Bill Mosbeck, Jimmy Stewart, Raoul Cayer, Bill and Dave Loney, Fred, and Judy Klug, the Visser brothers all taught me the importance of taking time to know their business and their families.

Back then it was called relationship selling. Perhaps, my most valued mentor was Ted Corrigan. I was really green as I began calling on business owners. I’d been challenged by my father to create a customer base that he could afford to pay me a salary. And he gave me the rural area.

When I walked into the old Fairway Store, Ted Corrigan was behind the meat counter and could see clear to the front of the store down all the aisles. It was a small corner store in 1972, but it would grow through multiple additions over time. Ted intimidated me. But as customers came through the door, he greeted them with a smile and addressed them either by their first name of more formally as Misses or Ms. And they would reply “Hi Ted.”

I didn’t make a sale that day, or one over the next five weeks. But weekly on Mondays I kept calling him as the last call of the day in Emo. Eventually he finally agreed to buy a small ad as a trial for a meat item and a 20-pound bag of flour. It must have been successful.

The ad grew and our friendship grew. I came to know his two daughters Catherine and Marlene and the pride he had in them. Over time he trusted me more and he learned more about my family. I learned that he was very much part of the heart of Emo as were those other business owners.

I remember the very first “Holly Daze” when my wife and two young sons were asked to judge the outdoor lights in the community. I had become part of the community. The weekend became a successful annual event.

All the wonderful times that grew from that first meeting with Ted flooded back to me when I saw his death notice in last Wednesday’s Times. Fairway was a success because Ted treated every customer as part of his family. He took the time to know his customers and their families and was generous to the community.

Former Publisher
Fort Frances Times

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