Sam H. Lane, Ph.D.
Sam Houston Lane, Ph.D.
1944 - 2011
We dedicate this page to our dear friend, respected colleague and long-standing partner, Sam Lane.
For more than 20 years, we have crafted new knowledge, collaborated in service to clients, written articles, monographs and books, and enjoyed travel and good times with Sam. His wife, Carol Ann has been a joyous part of our association as well. They were a team.
We celebrated weddings and births of grandchildren and supported each other during the difficult moments of life as well. It’s hard to imagine our group without Sam. I still expect him to call me any minute.
We have collected a few thoughts about Sam. If you would like to join in our celebration of Sam, please feel free to e-mail us and we will share your thoughts as well.
From Darrell Beck:
I knew Sam for forty-seven years, all of my adult life. The death of such a long-lived, dear friendship leaves a hole in my heart. There was much that was unique about the man; Sam did not remind me of anyone else I have known in sixty-eight years.
For most people the possession of a pronounced trait comes at the expense of its opposite. Not for Sam. He was, in the words of Emerson, “the sum of his inconsistencies.” He could be relentlessly tough minded, or tender and compassionate. He could be strategic and conceptual, or tactical and granular in his thinking. He could engage equally in a challenging, tough debate, or a supportive, caring conversation. He could be full of laughter and joie de vivre, or deadly serious. For me, what made all of this work for full effect and be coherent was that I never doubted even once that he had my best interests at heart in what he was doing. I think his clients felt this too.
An individual lives on in how his life has touched others. I know with absolute certainty that I am a better man, a better human being because I had the great gift of his friendship for so many decades. And so I say, with much grief and sadness, goodbye old friend.
From Joe Paul
Good bye Sam.
If I had known you were going to die I would have hugged you tighter when we last said good bye. Now it is with a very heavy heart that I begin to let you go. You have been such a part of my life for the last 20 years—more brother than colleague. My heart sinks every time I remember I can’t talk with you anymore.
One measure of a life can be taken by its effect on the lives of others. By that reckoning the world is a better place because of the way you lived your life creating opportunities for so many. The clarity of your presence, your knowledge and your wisdom helped remarkable people do remarkable things.
But the stern and unrelenting finality slaps me in the face when I think of you. Tears still come when I tell a mutual friend that you are gone. It is such sadness to share the news that our physical time with you is over. But right beside that humbling sadness are memories of your candor and the clarity of your thinking rolling out in Texan.
I am going to miss the partners’ meetings when your benevolent skepticism kept me on my toes and the six course meals that you collaborated with the chef to create; I will miss trips to wineries where we discovered axioms such as “The size of the gift shop is inversely proportional to the quality of the wine.” I will miss cringing at the “Dr. Lane routine” that has tormented so many hotel employees all over the world; and I will miss the anticipation of cooking a sumptuous meal for you and our family of partners. I will miss the stimulation of working with a large family together, and I will miss the puzzle of trying to walk with you and Carol Ann at the same time; I will miss your inquisitive mind. And, I will miss the pleasure of saving the best bottle of wine in the cellar for your visits--and knowing that you could tell.
You may be gone but our relationship is still alive and well. Your voice will go with me---
With wet eyed love,
From Jean Cheever:
My late mother, native born and proud Texan, Sally Cheever, fell in love with Sam Lane the first time she heard his middle name: “Houston”, as in “Sam Houston, first President of the Republic of Texas!” He not only charmed her, he accomplished what she treasured dearly in life – facilitating gatherings of her six children all talking and working together in unison.
He was smart, direct, thought provoking, and always entertaining. He was also very generous with his time and guidance, both in his family business practice and also when one of us called him for advice unrelated to our family’s business. He had a great laugh and a beautiful smile and our family will miss him dearly.
From Ruth Bredleau
I provided administrative services to Sam for the last three years and came to know him to be a complete juxtaposition, the yin and the yang. Sam was tough and demanding in his pursuit of perfection and could be so exasperating that I often joked with colleagues about ordering a wood chipper. But all joking aside, he never demanded more from others than he did of himself, and I respected his high expectations of quality performance. He made people better.
On the other side, he was gentle, soft-hearted and generous. He often gave me his theatre tickets when he couldn’t attend, and one time he gave me tickets to see Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Coat. I passed them on to my grandson and daughter. When Sam learned how much my grandson enjoyed the show and theatre in general, he offered to buy him tickets to a series of performances for kids.
Sam taught me a great deal about family business ownership, business in general, and how to get the most from yourself and those around you. I still expect him to call any minute. I miss him.
My heart goes out to his family, especially his grandchildren who will not get the chance to grow up having him to learn from. I know Sam looked forward to watching them grow.Ruth BredleauRidglea Office Partners
From Sid Dinsdale
I literally found Sam over the internet and then met with him in Ft. Worth to interview him for an engagement with our family. Sam was a very engaging and professional individual. He immediately gained credibility with me because of his experience and insightful questions as he sought to learn about our family and company. As a family we are very skeptical of consultants preferring to handle things ourselves. Sam eased me into the idea that he could bring a different perspective to our challenges of perpetuating our company for the next generation and planning for management succession.
We only knew Sam for about a year but I really appreciated his ability to guide our discussions and his focus on accomplishing our goals. He was patient but determined leader who knew from experience where we should go but was savvy enough to let us get there in our own way. This meant Sam would always express his opinion but respected ours. Sam helped us a lot. He was a good man who we will really miss. And I personally will miss his friendship and wise counsel.Sid DinsdalePresidentPinnacle Bancorp, Inc.
From Bill Roberts:
I am a relatively recent addition to the Aspen Family Business Group. I must admit that Sam's intellect and quick mind was at times intimidating. As I became better acquainted with Sam, I quickly learned that he was willing to share his knowledge, experience and considerable wisdom. I learned much from him just by listening as he described the intricacies of his work with family businesses and the families that comprised them. He was insightful, courageous and unwilling to put up with responses that were half-hearted or lacking in truthfulness. His legacy will be a host of families that are far better off for having known him and listened to his wisdom.
Our family had personal interaction with Sam. During one of the Aspen Family Business Groups' Gatherings in Aspen, Sam approached me to tell me that my son, who we were working into our future business succession, was having concerns that he had not shared. This led to a series of meetings and assessments that opened up lines of communication, increased our awareness of sensitive issues and ultimately to my son's decision to join our firm as a potential successor. Without Sam's intervention on that fateful day in Aspen, we might have missed the opportunity to work together and to extend the legacy of our firm into the next generation.
I suspect that my story could be repeated many times over by clients that Sam's life has touched over the years. His wisdom and insight will live on in his writings to touch many others and affect the direction they will take. This is a legacy that will keep his spirit alive in all of us who knew him.
From Bonnie Hartley
Please accept my condolences for your loss. One of my best memories of Sam was when I brought him into an engagement to facilitate a discussion about the family business values and vision. He did that exercise having family members draw their depiction of the company as an animal. The discussion was animated, funny, poignant and insightful. It broke a log jam in the family’s ability to find common ground for clarifying family values and creating a vision statement for the business.
Bonnie Hartley, President
From Terri L. Bennink
There is an expression in Texas about those who talk but do not produce; “All hat and no cattle”. Sam Lane, a true Texan, was the antithesis of this statement. In an age of political correctness and overcooked diplomacy, Sam Lane stood out as the genuine article.
I will remember Sam best as the person in our group that would drive the hard questions about what the underlying issues were, seeking to solve problems and always looking to generate new ideas. Sam was a true entrepreneur. Although at times Sam’s intense gaze and the fierceness of his direct questioning, could cause you to gulp, you knew that his underlying intent was the pursuit of excellence, and that if you stepped up, you would be better for it.
While Sam could be direct, and get straight to the point with his bluntness, he was also generous with his knowledge and offers to help, support, and mentor others. Every time the group met, he would ask me and other members how he could support and promote both our practice and our career. I will really miss that force of caring that would both challenge and simultaneously support; driving both individuals and the task at hand to be better.
Sam’s passion for excellence and his work can also be seen in his writing. I appreciate the straightforward approach and sharing of his experience that you can see in his work. Sam’s caring for businesses and the families that run them and his willingness to share his knowledge and experience have set the standard high for family business work- especially with boards. We have all benefited that Sam has left a good deal of himself in his writing.
As an extension of his generosity, Sam left a tremendous legacy of loyal friends, family, and great memories of good food, good wine, good conversation, and great adventures. It was a near epic event when Sam would order wine and food to match, and then explain with the precision of a forensic scientist why they worked so well together.
I appreciate and value the memories I have of Sam and the wonderful people and family that he loved and that loved him that he introduced me to. I admired the way that Sam would talk proudly of his children and their families and what they were doing and had accomplished. If a person’s legacy can be measured by the people who loved them, Sam’s legacy is one of wealth and generosity. Sam left us too soon. He had much more to offer, to give and to experience. There is no argument, however, that Sam packed a lot into his life and lived fully and contributed richly.
From Judy Green:
I first met Sam on the phone. He called me in Boston, and with that big Southern drawl said, “Hi, I’m Sam Lane from Texas.” Of course, I’d heard about Sam — he was a well-known member of FFI, a leader in the emerging profession of family business consulting. I figured he was calling to give me some advice — which I undoubtedly needed, being new to FFI — but instead he was just calling to introduce himself, wish me well, and offer to be of assistance in any way he could, so typical of Sam. Over the years, he provided much more than assistance. He was a popular presenter at FFI conferences, a thoughtful author, candid commentator, an FFI Fellow, and a mentor to the next generation of family business advisors and consultants. He will be sadly missed and long remembered by the field, by FFI, by his many friends and colleagues, and by me.
Family Firm Institute
Folks have asked us about contributions in Sam’s name. After consultation with the family we believe that contributions to the Legacy Fund of the Family Firm Institute would be a fitting Memorial. Many of us met Sam initially at FFI and we share a strong connection to our professional linkage there. He would be proud to support FFI in this way, too.
THE LEGACY FUND: The Legacy Fund is a non-restricted fund to be used at the discretion of the FFI board of directors to further the educational goals of the organization. The Fund will enable FFI to continue its 25-year journey as a leader in family enterprise knowledge and expertise. FFI is a non-profit public charity with a 501c-3 status in the US . The tax ID is 25-1499499. To make contributions, go to www.ffi.org or call 617-482-3045.
From Sam’s Family:
My father devoted thirty-two years of his life to helping businesses, and he especially enjoyed the work he did with businesses that were owned and managed by families. He had a unique gift for understanding the interaction between emotional realities and business realities, and loved helping others learn to balance these two forces. My brother, mother, and I knew all along that the passion he had for his work was a result of the fulfillment he gained from it. Helping his clients sort out issues, communicate more clearly, and enjoy one another more was the energizing factor in his life.
In the wake of our loss, my family is so appreciative of the support and kind wishes we have received from Dad’s many colleagues and clients, past and present. To him, many of you were like an extended family, and we know that you will miss him just as we do. He was one-of-a-kind to all of us, and therefore impossible to replace.
At the same time, we also realize that despite his absence, his clients’ needs continue. In all of my Dad’s work and experience, the group of people he developed the greatest respect for and resonance with was the Aspen Family Business Group. Because of this, we are grateful to the Group for their offer to carry on my Dad’s work for those clients who have an interest in speaking to them. We hope that members of the Group will be able to provide the same kind of help to Dad’s clients that he gave them.