As we near the holiday season, I find myself in moments of gratitude thinking about my life and my work; I was fortunate enough to know someone who not only made a difference in my personal life, he changed my professional life as well.
When I met Rex Athan with Lincoln National in 1989, money was tight and debt was weighing me down. Up until that point, I hadn’t experienced many positive male role models and I truly believe that God sent Rex and his family to guide me.
As I started on my path to financial planning, Rex would call me prior to payday and let me know when I was receiving a small paycheck or no check at all. He would offer me a loan, and this was such a sincere gift that was completely foreign in my 28 years of life thus far. I had never had anyone to lean on before this chapter of my life.
In 1992, Rex encouraged me to consider a move from the CFB Orange, CA office to Bakersfield and take over an office when another advisor transferred to Torrance. This was a daunting change to consider, yet Rex, once again, encouraged me and assured me I would thrive in my new role, running the office on my own.
This was a life-changer for me. No more two-hour commutes to the hospitals, where I focused on helping employees with their financial planning, and being able to develop my business in a small community was such a gift. He knew what I needed and believed I could challenge myself.
I met my husband, Jim, here in 1994 and we have a wonderful life in Bakersfield. My husband often speaks of Rex and his beautiful family and how warmly everyone welcomed him.
Rex Athan passed away on October 28, 2022. As stated in his obituary, “This Hoosier boy was a model of integrity, kindness, generosity, humor and unselfishness. His humility would never allow him to admit it to himself, but he was an inspiration in so many ways.”
Truer words were never spoken.
Father’s Day was always a time when I let Rex know how special he was to me, and I contacted him every year. This year he sent me a note that I will always treasure.
“I think you are giving me too much credit, Debbie. You are the person who wanted to be the person you are today. If I helped you a little, it was a pleasure for me. What a great mother you are, a great spouse. You have helped many people better prepare for retirement. Those three things alone say what a great person you are. Add to those qualities what you do in your church and what you do for others all say what a great person you are.
If I had anything to do with that, then I am a lucky guy.
But it was you, Debbie, who made those qualities develop, not I. But I am the lucky person who got to see you grow. Thanks for giving me that opportunity. “
This year as I celebrate moments of gratitude, I will be thinking of Rex and his family and the difference they made in my life and the lives of many others. Words cannot express how blessed I feel that our paths crossed and I’m sure countless others feel the same.
Thank you, Rex.