Instead of running me off, he took me in. He taught me. He shared his wisdom, and not just about our work. I remember the time he told me that I was confusing my job with my life. I didn’t want to hear it, but he was right. He taught me to listen, to reflect and to capture other peoples’ thoughts without worrying about my own. We traveled a lot together in those days. We went to dozens of states to share what we knew. We were even hired by some big shots in DC to go to a small, teardrop shaped country off the southern tip of India to help them do some planning for their national parks. It was a hoot.
But he never lost track of who he was, and he wasn’t about to let me do that either. He always had both feet planted solidly on the ground. So when he retired, we started a consulting company. We didn’t know very much about running a consulting company, but we figured it out. We worked with state and federal agencies, even some other outfits. We worked on salmon in Alaska, wolves in Utah, prairie dogs in Nebraska and a host of other gigs. We had a blast. We might have even done some good in a place or two. I hope so.
But eventually, I moved on. The partners went their separate ways. And Spencer went to Casper. He and his wife wanted to be close to their family there. And he wanted to fish the North Platte. We fished it together with some friends not long after he moved there. He made the mistake of letting me row the drift boat. I doubt he’ll make that error again. But as always, he was kind and patient and he took my ineptitude with a laugh. That’s the way he is.
That’s why I’ve long maintained that if God had given me an older brother, I’d want him to be like Spencer. And why I won’t wait so long for us to fish together again.