During the month of July NWLife Church is taking time to honor the best parts of our past in a series entitled Old School Remix.
Here is a story about an old school guy who’s taught me a lot about generosity.
His distinguishing features are his jet black beard, slicked back hair and deep bass voice.
He’s worn many different hats over the years.
He’s been a teacher and the principal.
He’s been the boss and landlord.
He’s been the bassist in the band and in the choir.
He’s currently a philanthropist and board member.
He calls 11 time NBA All-Star and basketball hall of famer, Elgin Baylor, his friend.
He’s recalls jamming with rock legend Jimmy Hendrix early in his career.
He’s Seattle through and through.
He’s a bit of a walking contradiction.
He’s self-made millionaire.
Strong willed, fiercely independent and yet unbelievably generous.
He loves real estate, music, and people (but reverse the order).
His name is Bill Eisiminger.
His most important role to me has been as family friend and pseudo-uncle.
He was present at nearly every family gathering with two dollar bills for every kid under the age of 18.
He nicknamed himself, “Two-Dollar Bill.”
On your birthday, you could always expect a phone call or message featuring his deep bass voice crooning Happy Birthday.
When I was about 10 years old I remember developing quite a report with him.
“Billy, my boy!” I would exclaim when I saw him.
He would laugh, and respond, “Andy, my boy.”
Bill has always had a way with people.
In December 2007, Bill suffered a series of seven strokes that left him clinging to life in ICU at Swedish hospital.
My wife and I drove up to visit him on a snowy Sunday night and we walked away doubting we’d ever get to visit with him again.
Over the last three and half years he’s made incredible progress.
He can now walk, talk and lives on his own in a downtown condo.
He truly is a miracle.
I’m proud that I know a guy as cool as Bill.
What makes him so cool?
His status as a millionaire? His connection to famous people? The fact that he always remembers my birthday?
What makes Bill cool is that he’s a big time giver. I mean huge. Bill lives to be generous.
I recently was in attendance at a building dedication for Seattle University.
The William F. Eisiminger Fitness Center.
After the usual thank yous and pleasantries, the school president welcomed Bill to the stage. Bill got out of his wheelchair, stood at the podium and delivered a short speech.
His opening line was, “Today is a great day for Seattle U… and a terrible day for my wallet.”
He recalled his early days building wealth and owning 50+ properties in the Puget Sound area.
The crowd was impressed as he detailed his years of unparallelled success.
He wasn’t gloating, he was painting a picture.
The picture of a man who had everything.
Then his speech took a dramatic, somewhat unexpected turn.
Bill began to weep…
He described how the series of strokes had effectively ended his previous life. His days as a real estate mogul were cut short. He loved to work hard and his failing health took that from him.
“Those strokes ended my former life and gave way for my new life to begin.” He said after he gathered himself.
Bill has always been a giver. He’s always been generous.
He was saying that since the strokes, his SOLE purpose in life has become crystal clear.
Bill now lives to bless and give to others.
I simply smiled as he spoke. Bill gets it. He knows his purpose.
Bill understands that he’s been blessed to be a blessing.
I’m sure everybody at the building dedication had their own reason for showing up.
I figure some were there because they’re fans of Seattle U.
Others were simply fitness fans.
I suspect that most were there, because like me, they’re fans of Bill Eisiminger.
I hope I continue to grow in my giving so that someday I can be as generous as Billy, my boy.