I’m Richard Schoell, known as Rick, I worked for the University of Illinois in the state of Illinois for over twenty eight years in the field of government relations. Cool. And how are you?

OK. Well, congratulations Bob, on this very well-deserved award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It’s a pleasure and privilege for me to be part of this tribute and your honor this evening, and I can’t help as we celebrate your great career. I am reminded of what a great friend you’ve been to me and I think back with great fondness when our friendship began nearly 60 years ago in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The joy we had on the baseball diamonds, the football fields and the hockey rinks, as well as that experience, you and I shared with that terrific Arlington High School Championship football team and season, I’ll remember forever. And then, of course, after you graduated from West Point, we took that fantastic trip west where we visited many of your friends and family, including Brother John, out in San Francisco and returned all the better for that. And then, of course, it was a real privilege to be part of your very special wedding to join you and Diane in Pittsburgh. Becky and I go back and remember the great memories we have of of your wedding. So, Bob, those were the foundations of our friendship and we had a great time.

There are many great qualities Bob possesses as an individual, and when I think and reflect on that, I always remind his serious commitment to strong values and principles, as well as hard work ethic, his ability to lead and guide and take on challenges. And I always respected Bob for that. Additionally, he had a real true sense of fairness, which has carried him throughout his career, and all of these qualities have served him well in becoming the great leader that he has. And it is not to go on mentioned that he has served as an example to many of us and given us and inspired us those qualities so that we can lead more productive and purposeful lives.

Bob was always very busy with a very impressive career, starting with his military service to his leadership positions with Procter and Gamble all the way through serving our nation as secretary of Veterans Affairs. And what I’m most grateful for and appreciative of is that Bob always found time for friends and family, and Becky and I still remember with great affection the times we visited you and Diane in Cincinnati, your warm hospitality and those funds Cincinnati Red Baseball Games. There was the time that Bob hosted us in Washington, D.C., when he was secretary of Veterans Affairs. He had several of the members of our high school football team in. And he gave us the experience of a lifetime. And we are grateful for those wonderful memories.

Bob and I met in middle school on a Little League Baseball team, and we were a good companion, we developed our friendship there on a bet on the baseball diamond and it was right before we went to high school. So the middle school years we played in a Little League Baseball team together. And our friendship blossomed from there.

You know, Bob Bob had, you know, two qualities. One, you knew Bob was serious about things. I mean, he he studied very hard, is very disciplined. He he he. But he also embraced life and he had a ball on the baseball diamond. And he could he could have serious fun, and he could also devote himself to the task at hand. And it was very early on that I realized this guy wants to go to West Point, and I think he he had that goal in mind back when, you know, I met him when we were just about ready to attend high school.

It was always fun to go to the the McDonald household, I mean, his mom from and his dad Ray were great friends and his brother, John and Suzy was his sister and they had a dog adoption drinker. And I remember just going over there and, you know, that’s sort of embracing family, feeling comfortable right away. And then we would play games on the dining room table. And I remember his mom coming and going, Bob Dinner’s in 15 minutes, you got to finish up that game. But it was always a real embracing environment. And then Bob came over and got to know my folks real well. You got to know my mom and dad, and it’s a credit to Bob. He still stops by and sees my mom, who’s 93 years old. It wasn’t, but a couple of weeks ago, he brought her beautiful flower bouquet. He and Diane came over just to visit with my mom, and that says something about Bob’s character.

I my parents actually visited Bob and West Point, Bob helped him get a painting out there, which is really cool. Bob and I communicated and every holiday got together, so when he would get, you know, be on leave from West Point or came back for the holidays, we would always get together and have a great time. And I didn’t get to visit him there. I kind of regret that. But Bob kept me up to date on all of his experiences there, including, you know, his military service after that. So I didn’t have a lot of direct experience with him at West Point, but I could tell, you know, the drive that he had and the goal he had one of the, you know, he was Army Air Force, he was a paratrooper. I mean, I remember him telling me those great stories my dad served in in the Army Air Force as well as a paratrooper during World War Two in the Pacific Theater. So it was really fun to kind of share some of those common stories with Bob.

I know he spent a few years of military service as second lieutenant, I believe, and then of course, decided, and it was probably a defining moment. I don’t know all the reasons why, because I know his strong commitment to to the military and his affection for the academy. But at that time, he made a career choice to move to Proctor and Gamble. So it was sort of after his military service that he joined Procter and Gamble. And then, you know, his career there took off and took him around the world. And again, always. I remember the holiday cards from Bob coming from the Philippines, Japan, Belgium. It was it was always really exciting to get that annual note from Bob. And again, when he was back in the states, he always made an effort to get together, which was I was very grateful and appreciative of.

Well, I think I think he was well-liked by his peers. Yes, and I think the leadership quality was was coupled with what I mentioned earlier about his Bob’s sense of fairness. I think people respected Bob because he was fair. If you knew you weren’t producing, Bob had a very appropriate way of addressing that. Like, maybe you’re not going to start on this team on this day. But, you know, we can work toward that. And Bob never gave up on people. He was always there to try to help people. So I think that quality served him very well.

I think Bob was always part of something bigger than himself in this dates back to I mentioned I met him on a Little League Baseball team. Most of our early formative years were in sports. But I think Bob always separated himself from this is about a collective effort, not about me. And while Bob had very strong personal goals and desires, he worked hard for for something bigger than himself. And I think as as he even grew on in his career, you could see that Bob was always committed to a principle of doing something right, even if it personally wasn’t something he maybe didn’t. His internal compass maybe didn’t agree with, he said, No, I’ve got to step forward and do this for the better of all. And I think that quality only increased over the years, and it’s that ability to have drive and ethic and and work and at the same time, care for those around you. Make sure that he was able to exploit their best qualities. And I think that defines his leadership.

I think I think Bob’s service to the military in particular and I never served, but what it did to me is it educated me about the importance of those that that do, as we often say, make the ultimate sacrifice for the for for our nation. And I think what it’s what I’ve developed a better appreciation for over the years of knowing Bob is how important it is that we pay tribute, recognize and show genuine appreciation to our veterans. Because not only do they make a sacrifice, they enable us to have the quality of life that we have in this nation and that’s never gone. That should never go unmentioned. And I think Bob has reminded me through his work and through his service to veterans of that very important notion. Never forget that.

I remember when Bob was at West Point, and while we were, we were chatting once, it might even have been on that trip to the West Coast, but I knew that there was something going on and bob and met somebody who was really, really special. And of course, I didn’t know who that was at the time, and it turned out to be the man who I actually got to meet right before their wonderful wedding in Pittsburgh. And the way he described her was was, Boy, I’ve got to meet this woman too. And you know what? I knew Bob was in love the minute he told me that story, and I’d never seen that part of him before. But Bob was deeply in love at the time, and again it was great for me to be part of their wedding.

What’s what’s great after the wedding, Bob, you know, Bob was overseas for many years, so we didn’t really get to see Bob and Diane a lot, and yet we communicated mostly by holiday cards, and Becky used to say I can tell Diane had her hand in this one because you could see the just from the pros. And then of course, there was Bob’s message too, and we value those a lot. But we had a chance to spend time with them recently in Cincinnati, as I, as I mentioned, and it was just really wonderful. The great time we had at their home and the hospitality they provided, Bob introduced me to some fantastic Bordeaux wine there that he had brought back from Europe. But but being with Bob and Diane and for Becky, it was real special too. And I think it was it was as busy as both of those two were. It was time away that they could give, and you realize the two of them really enjoyed the time together for themselves not having to be called on duty. And we were just together again a couple of weeks ago at our 50th high school reunion, and it was like the two have been together with us forever and it was really neat to see them there again just a few weeks back.

I would add that Bob’s been one of my best friends throughout my entire life, and as I said, we’ve been friends for nearly 60 years and he’s always been there for me and times of of need. But Bob’s just a genuine friend, and that’s a true gift to have that. And whether it’s talking baseball or the defining policy issues affecting our nation. Bob’s been a genuine and great companion to me, and I value that greatly.

On the lighter side, I remember when we went to the movie, Patton, how you know that that sort of was he loved that film. I mean, we liked it together. He had a sense of military history, even in early middle school and high school. We used to play games like, you know, risk in military strategy games. So there was something there that that he was just fascinated with. I think the the whole sense of of leadership and being a national leader on the on the on the stage to to affect positive lives of people that that was in Bob’s blood going back to his early years in middle school. And like I said, we I could see that then.

I think as you go through a whole life, you realize there are ups and downs and there are people that when you’re up there, the your best friend and when you’re down, you don’t hear from anymore. Bob’s been there for me throughout the six years we’ve known each other and in tough times, he’s been enormously effective counsel and helped me and gave me advice that was not only heartfelt but smart. And I’ve always valued that a lot.

I think, yeah, but Bob’s commitment to a goal and not letting defeats or diversions distract him from attaining that goal is a really admirable quality that I’ve tried to embrace. Maybe not as well as Bob’s been able to. But it’s it’s certainly a way to conduct your life and aspire to that goal and never give it up. And that’s that’s that’s where Bob, I think is has become such a successful leader is his ability to not be distracted and to not take his eye off the ultimate goal that he wants to accomplish.

Bob, congratulations on this terrific award you received this evening from one good friend to another. Way to go.

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