Hello and Goodbye: A Brief Tribute to Lieutenant General (Ret.) Henry Doctor, Jr.,USA
Friday, December 14, 2007
Maggie and I received the news about the death of our friend and trusted advisor Lieutenant General (Ret.) Henry Doctor, Jr., USA, on
Friday, December 7, 2007, and it was a sad day. This morning, we
participated in a celebration of the life of the man known as "Hank" to
his many, many friends and colleagues. As you read this, I
hope you come away with some impression of the level of impact my
friend Hank Doctor had on so many lives, much as I learned today as we
said goodbye. To set the stage of the indelible mark he had already
made on the world as a career military leader by the time I met him
four or five years ago his last three assignments prior to his
retirement from the Army were:
- Chief of Staff, US Army Materiel Development and Readiness Command, Alexandria, VA
- Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division, Eighth US Army, Republic of Korea and
- The Inspector General of the US Army, The Pentagon, Washington, DC
this wonderful celebration, I was moved to tears. I cried because I'll
miss the man whom, unless someone told you (because he wouldn't), you
would never know of the amazing gifts he had brought to so many or of
the distinguished career he compiled in service to our country. I shed
tears for the friendship that has been cut short, which to my detriment
will no longer grow and provide me with the unique and insightful look
at life and the art of giving back.
I was moved to tears this
morning, when his fraternity brothers from Omega Psi Phi assembled in
and around the pulpit at the First Baptist Church of Alexandria to pay
him honor. I was further moved as they described how General Doctor
personified their principles of Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and
Uplift and then struck his name from his chapter's roster in order to
have it placed on the roster of the Omega Chapter.
Then I smiled.
I sat there listening to friends and family talk of the other parts of
his life, I realized that we existed in a very small corner of Hank’s
universe. Knowing of his vast selflessness and commitment to
contributing to the uplift of others, his commitment to family and our
nation, makes us feel even more fortunate and humbled that we knew him.
the tributes and acknowledgments began, he was described in ways which
we also knew him. Everyone spoke of the always present slight smile he
maintained and his intense eye contact when he spoke but mostly
Retired Army General and former Secretary of State
Colin Powell led things off describing how General Doctor was a role
model to he and other black junior officers coming into the Army at the
time and Lieutenant General Stanley Green, the current Inspector
General of the Army, offered how General Doctor loved his country,
loved his soldiers, loved his family and placed the bar for performance
as a soldier and officer so high, that it demanded others to always
perform at their best. Everyone in the building was moved as Major
General Abraham Turner, USA, spoke of him as "Dad" and attributed his
being there to General Doctor's commitment to and continued support of
the ROTC program at their alma mater, South Carolina State University.
are tears in my eyes as I write this now and remember the man, my
friend and realize that I was in the presence of a great human being
who was incredibly complete. God, Country, Family, Life, Love...What
else is needed?
Another friend, Chaplain Major General (Ret.)
Mathew Zimmerman made us feel at ease as he related his first and
second encounters with "Aloha!" on a trip to Hawaii. When he arrived
there, he was welcomed with "Aloha!" and heard it again as he left the
island causing him some confusion. After receiving an explanation that
"Aloha!" was hello and goodbye, he related it to today’s service. As we
say goodbye to Hank in this life, we are assured that he is being
greeted by his son Kenneth, his sister Mable, his brothers Joseph and
Melvin, the founders of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity Edgar A. Love,
Oscar J. Cooper and Frank Coleman and the angels as they open Heaven's
Gate to welcome him home.
We will miss you Hank.