Editor's Note: Starting this series in tribute to my late mentor,"rabbi", and self-appointed godfather, William H. "Skip" Johnson, Jr., who passed away a year ago from prostate cancer. Skip was my first manager ever in my career in sales. This segment is to share some of his life lessons and honor his memory. "Book It, Dan-o" was what he'd say when he was giving you the green light on a deal.

It was the call I didn't want to answer. One year ago this week.
Clennon rarely calls me at home, so I knew it was serious.
But somehow I knew; deep in my spirit I knew. I knew. Skip was dead.

I listened to the voicemail and just sat down on the couch. Blank. Couldn't react,speak, nothing.

Just like him to not tell us he'd worsened. Skip's glass was always at least half full, if not spilling over. If it wasn't, he'd still act like it was. His last email to me went something like "Was sick a little while, but I'm fine now. Can't keep a good man down for long!" This his characterization of advanced stages of prostate cancer, after the at-home chemo failed to hold hold back the cancer that ravaged his body. Just like him.

Skip was my Morrie Schwartz. Quotable. Colorful. One of a kind. Street wise. 5'7", pot belly, balding in the crown, unforgettable laugh, great smile, loved music and concerts, and one of the most intelligent businessmen I ever met. I can remember in the very early 90s him telling a group of us that the new technology would not be pointing or clicking a mouse on the screen, but "you'll touch it!" he said with the glee of a kid on Christmas day. Back then we chuckled to ourselves as if this was one of his "embellishments." And now, I'll be doggone if the guy didn't call it right. Skip enjoyed life to the fullest. Was on his 4th wife when he passed. Saw potential in me before I did.

I just couldn't go to the funeral.To me Skip was one thing: alive, more alive than most of us will ever be, with that sarcastic high-pitched laugh and sky's-the-limit enthusiasm. I can't fathom seeing him with that life stolen from him by cancer.

If you can't understand that, you didn't know Skip.

I could see him in my mind's eye, as the tears finally washed over me that day, throwing that over-sized hanky of his across his desk and admonishing me "Here girl, get a hold of yourself first." when I'd go in his office upset over work problems, guy problems, my crises of confidence as a twenty-something professional, whatever. "Get ahold of yourself."

He seemed perfectly content to see his many protege's shine and succeed. Totally non-plussed by awards or recognition. Once when I was selected to go to the Golden Circle, (a high honor for salespeople and managers which included a trip to an exotic locale) I truly felt bad because he'd never been at that point. His response? "Don't worry about me. Hell I don't need a free trip. I got a ton of frequent flier tickets at home I haven't used yet. You are one of my superstars; you go on and shine girl." Just like him.

I love you and miss you every day. I just hope my actions and successes honor you.

Just like him.