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A Tribute


.....and another form of training that has value from our partner Toni Ahl at EEO Advantage

Recently, a wonderful man known widely around Louisville passed away. John Asher was the Vice President of Communications at Churchill Downs. He was recognized as the face of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs.

I decided to dedicate my blog post this month to John. John was the quintessential Southern gentleman. He was always polite and gallant. I never saw John without a smile on his face. He had kind words for everyone he met, and I did not hear him complain about anything in all the years I knew him.

John loved his wife, three daughters and two grandsons. He frequently posted about them on his Facebook page. He was so excited when his first grandson was born. He then had a male partner. Little “Shug” was the apple of his Grandpa’s eye. John was equally excited when his second grandson was born. Family was so important to John.

Horseracing was John’s passion. The day after the Kentucky Derby ran, John was posting that it was only 364 days until the next Derby. John had been an award-winning journalist before being hired at Churchill Downs. As much as he loved racing, John was not great at picking winners at the track. If I heard him pick a horse as the Derby winner, I would usually not bet on it since he rarely picked a winner. He laughed about his inability to pick horses although he was like a walking encyclopedia about racing.

He gave generously of his time to the causes he championed. Those organizations around the city of Louisville were many. I first met John at Guardiacare. He was on the Board and I was working as a volunteer for their big fundraiser, Chocolate Dreams. John arranged for us to use space at Churchill Downs for the event and provided many great gifts for our silent auction. He would come to the committee meetings even though he was on the Board and did not have to be at the committee meetings. He emceed the event and stayed for the clean-up. There are not many board members I know who do things like that.

For John’s viewing, Churchill Downs provided the space. Before the public could pay its respect, the hearse drove the mile and a quarter around the track accompanied by three outriders from the track. Employees of Churchill Downs lined the track while the bugler played My Old Kentucky Home. The twin spires at Churchill Downs were lit up red for the color of his alma mater, Western Kentucky University, where he was a big supporter. People waited in line for over an hour to pay their respects and his casket was covered in a blanket of roses similar to the one given to the winner of the Derby.

Why did I decide to pay tribute to John? First and foremost, because he was a wonderful, warm, caring and fun person. And, secondly, to remind us all that we should make the most of the time we have. John was 62 years old and died of a heart attack while on vacation with his family. We never know when our time may come. All of us need to consider how we live our lives daily and what we are doing to make the world a better place. I think John would be flabbergasted to see the outpouring of love and respect Louisville has shown for him. Perhaps we should tell the people we love and respect how we feel about them while we can. We need to live the best life we can while we are here. We also need to treat all those we meet and with whom we interact with dignity and compassion.

Many companies are conducting training now for employees that include respect and civility components. Perhaps if the world had more people who were like John, that would not be necessary. Maybe we should all consider how we interact with others and try to emulate John. I’m sure John had his faults, but his other qualities outweighed them.

Please feel free to contact me if there are areas you would like me to address. I can be reached at eeoadvantage@gmail.com or (502) 553-7648. I’m happy to assist with training needs and do have a program about harassment and respect.

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