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Last Saturday afternoon, we lost a great man, a great colleague, a terrific coach and a dear friend, Mr. Brian Nelson, CCIM. Only weeks ago Brian was his usual eloquent, brilliant and humorous self as he shared a story with me about his coaching clients and how he was “transforming their lives”. He knew every deal of every client we were reviewing that day. He understood their motivations and their challenges. I loved the man’s passion to teach and this passion saturated everything he touched.
His ability to share his passion was never more exhibited than at his service this past Wednesday in Atlanta, GA. On a rain-soaked, cold afternoon, the church was packed with friends, admirers, and former students. The enormous Cathedral of Phillip was dwarfed by number in attendance. The pews were filled with grievers, yes, but more so with fans.
Of course, there was his loving family as well. His wife Rena Sartain, and his two sons, Brian and Glen, and their respective families all played a part in the service. It was Rena’s eulogy however that allowed us all to better understand the man we knew as our teacher and friend. Rena shared with us all that Brian was a football player and swimming star at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. He was a student, first and foremost, with an insatiable thirst to learn. He could remember someone’s name that he met years before, while also quote poetry without hesitation. From this learning came knowledge and from this knowledge came his passion for teaching.
Brian earned his CCIM and became a CCIM instructor over 25 years ago. He loved each class he taught, and he taught classes every year, including this year. He came into our lives only a little over 2 years ago, and joined the Massimo Group as one of our coaches. It was obvious from the start that he would be a great coach. In the short days since his passing, each and every one of his coaching clients have expressed how honored they were to have Brian as their business mentor. They expressed that he had indeed transformed their lives, just as Brian reminded me only a few short weeks before.
Brian’s favorite CCIM class was in 1991. While facilitating a course, he first laid his eyes on Rena. He was fascinated. Lucky for Brian, Rena quickly had a crush on her teacher. They soon became best of friends and eventually married. They are, even to this day, inseparable. There is so much Brian in Rena and I can now see there was much of Rena in Brian.
Rena noted the charity in which Brian would like everyone to participate. The charity is one of engagement. Brian engaged fully in life, both personally and professionally. He didn’t waste time complaining, but took great joy in experiencing. He observed; he reflected; and he acted.
Brian Nelson’s final lesson to his thousands of students is simple: engage. Don’t wait for things to change, you must be the change agent. Focus on learning; develop yourself first and increase the value you then can provide to others.
For the Massimo Group, we will honor Brian by creating the Brian Emory Nelson award, which will be given annually to the coach who best exemplifies Brian’s passion for teaching and engagement in his clients. Brian will leave a legacy well beyond the Massimo Group and CCIM. His legacy is reflected in all his students, clients, friends and family members. We shall all engage more today than we did yesterday. We shall all become more valuable and share that value for everyone’s enrichment.
Thank you Brian for being a great teacher to me over the past two years. I will miss you Brian. May you rest in peace.