Tenacious, Intelligent, Resourceful, Passionate, Insightful, Caring, Determined, and Fun are among the hundreds of words used to describe my friend and mentor, Simone Joyaux, since her passing last week.
Those words, and so many more beautiful thoughts and tributes about Simone, can be found on almost every fundraising blog, publication, and social media feed.
I could sit at my keyboard adding to those stirring tributes about her career achievements and academic accomplishments. Instead, I am going to go down a different and very special path. I would like to share what Simone meant to my family. I will add to this post several pictures so all of you can muster a true sense of what she was to members of the Love clan.
I truly hope you enjoy perusing this post, as much as I enjoyed reliving the heartwarming memories.
Part One – Business Relationship/Friendship
Simone and myself first met in Brisbane, Australia. We were both speaking at their National Fundraising event held nearly 30 years ago. After I had attended her session, which was spectacular as usual, I introduced myself, and inquired about having dinner that evening. We did just that with many of the other speakers. We had a splendid time.
To my surprise, the next morning she was literally front and center in my session. During the Q&A of the session, I was asked specific product questions, and to comment on a few of my competitors. I quickly declined to do either, for which Simone started clapping and smiling. We became instant business friends.
For the next couple of decades we would bump into each other at conferences here and there. I still tried to attend every single one of her sessions because her mission of equality struck a chord with me. This usually meant a hug or two and nice follow-up emails between us.
Then in 2012, Ross Hendrickson and myself decided to start Bloomerang based upon the premise of bringing proven best practices in professional fundraising to life. We began harvesting such best practices based upon the amazing Donor Retention work of Adrian Sargeant (you will see Adrian and his wonderful family in a few of the pictures below).
Adrian suggested a couple of other experts to join our cause, one of which was the long time partner of Simone. This led me to find her and ask for a more than proper introduction. The picture below shows our Business Relationship blossoming into a personal friendship as we dined on a train from London to Plymouth. Adrian literally had snuck us into the first class dining car!
Part Two – Personal Friendship
Simone and myself found ourselves serving on an International Board focused on the research into fundraising best practices. The board meetings alternated between the United States and the UK.
This, along with working more closely with her significant other, provided plentiful opportunities for our business friendship to blossom into a close personal friendship
Then came our family trip to France, more specifically to Simone’s region of France.
Part Three – Family Friendships & More
Traveling to a board meeting in London was a splendid opportunity to expose the portion of our family working directly with Bloomerang, namely my daughter and her family, to not only the UK, but also to the South of France.
It is downright scary going to a country where none of us speak the language. Well, that is not a problem if you know Simone, who speaks fluent French!
On top of that, Simone met us at the airport with a huge banner and even bigger smiles, as we walked out of customs. Right then and there the friendship grew by leaps and bounds.
After they helped us settle into the house, we began five days of adventure and fun. Each day my grandchildren were captivated more by Simone’s spirit, care and challenges to their thought process. She soon adored them and vice versa. Those of you who have watched Simone mesmerize a large audience should see her work with a small crowd of energetic and knowledge seeking children. They were so eager to learn that Simone was soon calling them “The Ducklings.”
Our travels took us to cobblestone narrow streets in tiny villages, magnificent castles, crowded festivals, the Mediterranean Sea and the best cafes ever. Every step of the way, Simone was coaxing curiosity out of all of us, and creating an incredible bond. The pictures below reveal even more of this wonderful story.
As our trip wound up we decided that the first week of August would be our annual Extended Family Reunion for all of us at our home in Indianapolis. We had two unbelievable versions of this before COVID hit halting last year’s plans.
Here are a few photos of a few of the myriad of fun activities we had from the Welcome Banner to Indy to visiting the Art Museum to Symphony on the Prairie at Conner Prairie to celebrating a birthday!
We were planning the 2021 Extended Family Reunion for this August when word of Simone’s passing reached us.
I am not sure I have the words to express how we all feel. Such a loss is truly indescribable.
However, I will attempt to describe the impact her friendship and love had upon us. Simone lit up the room, or even the wide open spaces of outdoors. She captivated all of us, as she challenged us to learn and do. She implanted a love of France, history and what true friendships are all about.
Best of all, she made youngsters feel so special with her unfiltered exuberance and adoration for them. Simone was absolutely one in a million!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I now believe if that picture is one drawn by a young child it might be worth several thousand words. Even it simply says a person and their significant other embraced and changed the child’s life enough to label them “NICE.”