Hank Bardel: 1945 - 2015
It is with sadness in our hearts to share the news that our friend and colleague, Hank Bardel, passed away on Wednesday, August 5.
Because Hank was such a big part of Marshall Institute, we felt it appropriate that Hank’s family asked our CEO, Dale Blann, to share some thoughts about Hank at his memorial service. Following is an excerpt from Dale’s tribute to Hank:
Marshall Institute has lost a part of who it is—Hank was the perfect embodiment of all those qualities and virtues we have always wanted Marshall Institute instructors and consultants to project to the world.
We all learned a lot from Hank. What we learned from Hank made it possible for many of us to know what we were supposed to be doing. It was Hank’s simple coaching, and the example he set, that showed the rest of us how it could be done.
It was an understatement to say that Hank could tell a story—for all I know, some of them may have been true. But it wasn’t really the truth of the story that mattered—it was the message. I’m pretty sure that for almost every learning point he taught in his classes—Hank had a story associated with it, by which, he could make the point more relevant, more memorable—and more often than not, funny.
For a long time, I suspected Hank must be filling out and reporting the evaluations himself; or, I thought maybe he was changing their answers before he turned the evaluations back. Then, I thought perhaps he could be coaching his students in some way to fill out the forms in just the “right” way, in his favor. I even thought, perhaps he might be paying them in some way! I even began visiting Hank’s class on the last day to see if I could detect or prevent whatever skullduggery must be going on.
But, to no avail, of course. There was no skullduggery; Hank’s students simply loved him—and everything he said—and how he said it.
Hank’s students not only liked him—they never forgot him. When any of us meet prior Marshall Institute students, anywhere in the world, who’ve been in one of Hank’s classes, they will invariably ask about Hank and relate to us just how great their experience had been, and how much they liked being in Hank’s class. It will often have been the best class they have ever attended.
It’s a fact that Marshall Institute instructors spend a lot of time in airports and on airplanes.
So let me tell you of the time that Hank dropped his drawers in an airport. Hank had been gone to Mexico to do a job somewhere down there. He had promised Glenna to bring her two bottles of Tequila. So he’s coming home, he’s in an airport, Houston I think, rushing from one gate to another, to make his connection. Now it just so happened that at this time Hank had been losing some weight. He was having to hitch up his pants every now and then, because they weren’t fitting quite right, anymore. He’s in a crowded airport, he feels his pants begin to slip— now he’s juggling a lot of things: he’s got his bag, his computer, and Glenna’s two bottles of Tequila (this was before 9-11 obviously).
He can’t just suddenly drop things and grab his pants—the bottles are glass, and he didn’t want to drop the computer—but before he could get things under control, his pants drop completely to the floor. This exposes part of Hank Bardel that even Hank Bardel had not seen for a long time. Now the way he tells the story, after a rousing round of applause from the airport crowd, he simply said, pulling up his pants, “and now for my next trick…”
There was the time that Hank was returning home on an airplane and had been assigned the front bulkhead, aisle seat, on the plane. That put him almost knee-to-knee with the flight attendant on that flight, who apparently had had a very long, stressful, tiring day. Now, Hank was a friendly guy. He and the flight attendant are engaged in friendly conversation; when she learns that Hank’s a frequent flyer, weekly almost, and is quite familiar with the safety briefing, which she is about to have to give. The flight attendant, weary and bone-tired, actually asked Hank if he’d be willing to deliver the safety message. Hank would do anything, especially if he figured he could get some humor into it. And that’s exactly what he did! I wasn’t there. I can’t quote the safety message Hank delivered. But my understanding is that when Hank was done, the passengers on that plane were in stitches and giving him a rousing hand of applause. I’m pretty sure that Hank’s safety briefing, whatever it was, was not FAA-approved.
That was Hank---you didn’t have to know him. But if you were around him very long—you’d be applauding something.
We applaud you Hank. We’re going to miss you.
If you would like to share words or a story about Hank, please share in the comments below.