Yesterday, I sent out a message to forty something friends on facebook letting them know that our friend and colleague, Chadd Milke, had been taken home to be with the Lord. In the last twelve hours, my mind has flooded my thoughts with memories of my dear departed friend…
Chadd and I go back a long time–even before facebook. We first met working for Blessings (BCM) back in the late 90s when, newly hired, he came to visit me at the Saskatoon store. At the time, Chadd was going to assist in managing the newly opened Winnipeg store. Right from our first meeting, I could tell that Chadd wasn’t cut from the same cloth as me, but I liked him immediately. Most people found Chadd to be a very like-able fellow.
A couple years later both Chadd and I would move to Edmonton, him from Winnipeg, me from Saskatoon, so we could both work at BCM’s new Support Centre offices. There Chadd’s friendship blossomed with his co-workers (Chris, Joy, Trisha, Janet, Christine, the Bobst girl whose name I can’t recall, Felix, Jim, Ruth, Sharon, Erin, Annie, Paul, Sheri, Sarah, Larry, Janice, Mark, and others I’ve forgotten–my apologies to you).
In those days, work felt like family. We had our good days, we had our fights, and we had challenges, but Chadd was one of those people who made going to work fun! He had a great sense of humor, and for those of us who invested our friendship in Chadd, we got to know one of God’s especially created personalities.
To say Chadd was a “music guy” would be an erroneous understatement. That fellow always amazed me with his passion for music. Many people have commented to me about my diverse and eclectic tastes in recorded music–Chadd’s interest, knowledge, collection, and appreciation makes me look like an amateur. And he knew artists and artists knew him too! I consider it a privilege to have introduced Chadd to at least one musician, Jesse Cook, considering that he introduced me to hundreds (if not thousands).
But Chadd wasn’t just into music; he loved reading books, and meeting and interacting with their authors. I recall he even was friends with Brock and Bodde Thoene, and Gilbert Morris (I think that was the fellow). Chadd was the most well read “music guy” in our business. Chadd also loved going to popular media and cinema–I recall going to Midnight Movie Premiers, like Lord of the Rings, with him and other friends from work.
In my work life, to amuse myself and try and lighten the mood, I dream up “camp’ names for my coworkers… If you’re lucky (or some might say, unlucky) I’ll share them with you. My camp names for Chadd included… Chadd the Milkman, “who always delivers”, Cha-Cha, Chadd-man-of-mystery, Mr. Rhondo, Chaddzilla, and Chad Solo ( I’m pretty sure he hated the last one the most since it was in reference to Han Solo from StarWars… Chadd would have nothing to do with StarWars; He was a Trekkie through and through).
There is no doubt that I got on Chadd’s nerves from time to time, but he was always very gracious and kind–truly a brother who modelled the fruit of the spirit. Chadd was also one of the most dedicated employees I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. His work ethic rivaled that of my mother, and she’s one of the hardest working people I know. A significant part of BCM’s success in those heyday years were built with Chadd’s sweat and tears. One warm summer afternoon, Chadd received one of the only Support Site award I ever recall being given–he won (and indeed deserved) to be The Support Site Employee of the Year.
Eventually BCM sold, and the Support Site family was fractured with those who would move to Chilliwack, and those that move on to other things. For those of us who moved to Chilliwack, Chadd included, what we arrived to seemed like a TV Big Brother experiment gone wrong. The entire support staff was packed into two offices and a lobby, while the new headquarters underwent a complete renovation. Working in such tight quarters was challenging for all of us, but my Mom would later share with me that it was especially difficult for Chadd. The fact that all of us made it through with our sanity in-tact was only by God’s grace.
In Chilliwack, I gained a new appreciation for Chadd. My kids were growing up, and Chadd was growing up in his own way. One of my favorite memories with Chadd was him going trick-or-treating with my kids, Mr. Woodward, and me. Jana and Justin, loved hanging out with him–he might as well have been their Uncle Chadd. When things wound down for me at Blessings, and my family moved back to Calgary, there was Chadd to say good bye.
Over the past few years, Chadd and I have connected by email and facebook, and I always appreciated how he’d bring new music to my attention. Even though we wouldn’t see each other face to face again, with Chadd, it always felt like he wasn’t that far away.
I think that Chadd was like that for many of us in that he had a unique friendship with each person. I’m sure my experience was different that yours, but it makes me appreciate how God uniquely created each and every one of us.
Chadd, rest assured my friend that you will be greatly missed, and that you made a bigger mark on lives than you might have imagined! It was a pleasure spending time with you here on Earth, but I look forward to meeting you again in Heaven, and hearing about what great music awaits me there. While you’ve gone on ahead, I’ll be praying for your family and friends who will be missing you greatly.