Iâ€™ve known Sean McShefferty less than a year. I feel like Iâ€™ve known him my whole life.
Upon our first meeting, Sean spent a solid 60 minutes â€“ unprompted and uninterrupted â€“ delineating the entire story of his battle with cancer, intertwined with stories of his kids, people he had met, surfing, and various other escapades. That the rest of us were nearly falling off our chairs from red wine and fatigue didnâ€™t matter. He had something to share and he was going to share it.
That was Sean: Always sharing.
The next day, and the next several times I saw him, he apologized for his monologue. That was Sean, too: Considerate, sensitive and sincere.
As my friend (and Seanâ€™s colleague) Tom Forsythe said to me, â€œSean lived the saying, â€˜A stranger is a friend youâ€™ve never met.â€™ â€ And did he have friends. Sean told me how, while undergoing treatment for stomach cancer, he met another patient. The two struck up a conversation â€“ Sean was a pro at this â€“ about cars, and it turns out the fellow was a collector. He invites Sean to see some of his â€œtoys,â€ and naturally Sean went along.
The collection of vintage autos and rare sports cars was amazing. As Sean admired them, the man made Sean a deal: take anyone he liked and drive it for a couple weeks. Then bring it back. No questions asked. Just have fun. (He did.)
Sean had a knack for inspiring that kind of blind trust from those he met. His sincerity carried him a long, long way. As a cancer survivor myself, I admire those who have faced down what can be a wholly debilitating disease with dignity and strength. Sean never publicly complained about his bad luck. In fact, I suspect he never looked at the hand he was dealt as bad luck at all. It was just one of Godâ€™s challenges, and he was going to face it. I didnâ€™t even know he was sick again.
Iâ€™m sorry Sean is gone. Iâ€™m sorry for his family, for his colleagues at Kyzen and in the industry, and for his friends. But Iâ€™m also sorry for all those strangers who never had the chance to become his friends.
(Kyzen is requesting those who have â€œclassicâ€ pictures of Sean to forward them to the company for inclusion in the retrospective. Digital copies may be sent to [email protected]; prints photos can be sent to the companyâ€™s Nashville address (attention SeanPhoto) for scanning and will be returned. Questions regarding the education fund may be submitted to [email protected])