I was planning on taking a break from posting for a few weeks, but I heard some terrible and shocking news this week that a dear friend of mine and Annette’s died in a motorcycle accident last Monday night. His name is Joe Compana and he was a Good Man. I wanted you all to know that, even though you will never know Joe himself.

And what is a Good Man you may wonder? Well, I’ll tell you…

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I’ve been looking back on the time we spent with Joe…the day we first met him in the gravel parking lot above our houses on Cabrita Point in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the years we lived as neighbors, sharing not only a driveway and a down-island view, but in fact sharing the dreams and struggles that island life brings, the frustrations of buying near-rotten food at CostUsLess market, the weekly power outages, the stink of road-side garbage dumps, the out-of-control utility bills, the ever-present mosquitos, the rutted, nearly impassible muddy road to our house.

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We even shared house robberies, Joe’s and Kim’s house first, and then our own, toasting together with gin and tonics after the police left and luxuriating in the gorgeous tropical sunset that confirmed again just how lucky we were to be living in “paradise.”

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But what I remember most, and what revealed the heart of this Good Man, were three dreaded words…Home Owner’s Association. If you’ve never been in such an association (and obviously Joe and we were), imagine a roomful of feral cats and dogs barking and hissing at each other as they claw and bite and spit and scratch to get what they want and to keep you from getting what you want.

Joe’s behavior as the president of the homeowners association underscored time and again the central goodness of this Good Man. And what is that goodness?

Selflessness.

Through countless battles with other neighbors, through countless deceits and stratagems by one owner trying to manipulate another, through endless arguments and endless bitterness, Joe remained calm and focused on the needs of all members without ever putting himself first. That’s a pretty remarkable thing to do. He was the president of the association not because he wanted the job, but because nobody else wanted it, and more importantly because everyone else knew that Joe could be trusted to be fair because Joe was a Good Man.

A Good Man cares about others before himself. Simple, huh? It bears repeating: Caring about others before yourself.

Now don’t think I’m suggesting that Joe was the Antilles Gandhi or some kind of saint, far from it, and he’d be the first to laugh out loud with his inimitable laugh at any such silly comparison. But also no mistake, Joe was at his core a Good Man, a Very Good Man, and he will be missed deeply by me and Nettie and his many, many friends, who already know that a good man is hard to find.

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Of course, he will be missed most deeply and irreplaceably by his wife, Kim and their children shown in this picture the way I remember them when we first met. Joe is on the right, his brother on the left. My heart goes out to all of them during this impossibly difficult time, and my heart will closely hold the memory of Joe Compana, a Good Man, for the rest of my life.

 

7 Responses to In Praise Of A Good Man

  1. Beverly Pine says:

    Just got around to reading your post. Sorry for the loss of “a good man” and your friend.

  2. Mary E. says:

    So sorry to read about the loss of your friend, Joe. My heart breaks for his wife, children and family. Sending
    you and Annette my love. xoxox Mary

  3. Gary Maxwell says:

    Sorry that you have lost a friend so suddenly. When it happens like this, the shock is stunning and then the realization that they are gone for all eternity is
    mind numbing. Hugs & Kisses to you and Nettie. See you soon.

  4. Hey Frank
    I saw your email about the Good Man, and being a Goodman myself, it naturally caught my attention. And I was saddened to hear about Joe, and offer you my condolences.
    My best regards to Nettie, and I wish you all an otherwise Happy Holiday.
    Cheers
    Dave Goodman

  5. “A good man is hard to find,” and harder to lose.

    I’m sure your words would mean a lot to Joe and must be deeply appreciated by his wife and family.

  6. Stephanie Logan says:

    Frank, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend Joe. It sounds like the world could use more Good Men like him! I am glad you have so many fond memories of him to hold dear.

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