Tears filled my eyes when I learned Saturday morning that our beloved coworker Charlie Cain had passed away overnight.
The last time I saw Charlie was to give him a lesson on the new digital recorder. I had put together instructions, circling diagrams and including detailed notes. He was pissed that the thing didn’t have a cassette he could turn over, like he’d been doing since the ‘80s. The photo at right features the second-to-last tape he ever used. I pulled it out of the garbage when I heard him swearing at his desk. On his final tape, he accidentally recorded over part of a work-related interview he had done, with NBC coverage of the PGA tournament. Really. He called to tell me about it, “Not sure how the hell I pulled that one off.”
Technology was a mountain for Charlie to climb at Truscott Rossman. And that wasn’t the only one. After decades working as an award-winning journalist, Charlie initially found public relations mystifying. Last winter we started recording his exasperation on Charlie’s Quote Board: “I can’t open this Goddamn file you sent me!” “I’m going draggin’ and kickin’ into the 21st century!” “Fuuuuuuuck…” “This is more fun than sixth-grade picnic.”
We laughed with him and tried to ease the pain. We knew deep down he just wanted his typewriter back!
Charlie had the best one-liners:
· “This guy thinks I’m a horse’s ass...” – In reference to a client he was working with in his inaugural efforts to provide full-service public relations.
· Charlie: “So is Truscott our new boss??” Megan: “Yeah, he and Kelly…why?” Charlie: “I just wanted to know whose ass I had to kiss.” – In reaction to news that The Rossman Group was merging with The John Truscott Group in January.
He also knew how to tell a great story. His last assignment was a legacy story for a client. He was gathering quotes from Detroit’s top leaders and did several in-person interviews. Charlie was determined to get it right. As many people have said this week, he was a consummate professional. Little did we know we would be talking about Charlie’s own legacy just a few weeks later. His brilliant writing skills, institutional knowledge, great smile and loving spirit will be missed at Truscott Rossman, and in Lansing. We will miss our buddy. We may just have to memorialize that quote board.
Rest in peace, Chuck…until we meet again.