Saturday, February 7, 2009
The Center had no monopoly on unique and noble individuals who had a deep impact upon my personal development. Bryon Granmo is a prime example.
I met Bryon in the summer of 1998, just after I graduated from the Monterey Institute. I had just landed a job with a college text book publisher and when I started there, Bryon was a co-worker. As I recall, he was an assistant acquisition editor at the time and had an office just across from my desk, which sat out in the hallway.
I wasn't initially attracted to him. He always had a spring in his step, was cheerful and naturally gregarious. I was a little withdrawn. One day early on, however, I heard him say something like "...when I was in the Navy..." as he walked down the hallway talking to someone on his wireless headset. When he came back, I called him over.
"What'd you do in the Navy?"
"I was stationed on a ship in Japan," he responded.
"Officer or enlisted," I asked.
"What was your rate," I asked. With that question he focused -- only another former sailor such as myself would ask that question that way. (In the Navy, one's "rate" is an enlisted person's job specialty.)
"I was an IS," Bryon answered. "Were you in the Navy, too?"
"Yeah, I was an IS, too!" I answered -- "IS" standing for Intelligence Specialist.
As it turned out, Bryon and I had led curiously similar lives and quickly struck up a friendship. While I'd struck out on my own at a young age and entered the Center, Bryon went to Europe, where he aspired to bicycle race professionally (and I think did so at an entry level). We were both strong swimmers, too, and when his cycling career ended, Bryon joined the Navy to become a SEAL, just as I had.
Neither of us achieved our goal of becoming Navy SEALs and we were both then sent to the fleet. Whereas I got out of the Navy after my first enlistment, though, Bryon stayed in and was sent for shore duty at the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey. When his time there was up, he too got out and landed himself a job at the publishing house where we then met.
About a year into my job at the publishing house, there were a number of changes made in the editorial department of our office. One was that Bryon became my boss, taking over for a very nice woman who went on maternity leave and never returned full-time. The other was that the company decided to double my responsibilities. A person in the marketing department had left the company, and the higher-ups decided that perhaps I could do both my job and the marketing database job as well.
So, right after becoming my boss, Bryon began to mediate the negotiations between me, on the one hand, and the Vice-President of Editorial and the HR folks, on the other hand. The details are pedestrian, but at a critical point I unknowingly demanded an amount in salary increase that would have surpassed even Bryon's pay. The Vice-President told Bryon that he would not pay me more than he paid Bryon. Then Bryon did the extraordinary -- he lobbied for me to get the higher pay anyway.
In the end, we both got raises. I got the amount I had demanded, and Bryon got just a little more! Then, I started applying to law schools. When my plans to move to San Diego became firm, I told Bryon. Coincidentally, he said, he and his lovely wife Adele were moving to San Diego, too!
Once in San Diego, we made a trip over to Bryon and Adele's place, and I kept in pretty good email contact with Bryon, but as I got immersed in my law school studies, our communications dropped off. Realizing this one day near graduation, I sent Bry an email apologizing for not keeping in touch and asking him what the latest was on his end.
He responded that he'd been diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer.
After a courageous battle, Bryon passed away on January 9, 2004, leaving behind Adele and their beautiful baby daughter Marit.
A naturally religious man and unpretentious Christian, Bryon led by example. I'm very grateful for the short time I had to know him and the deep impact that he had on me. I'll never forget him.