Over the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about my pal Darrell Elliott who passed away last Saturday, April 4th. At first it was a friend who let me know last Thursday that Darrell was in a bad way in hospital put into a medically induced coma due to a fever that got out of control triggering other serious issues. The shocking part was to hear that he seemed quite healthy a couple nights earlier and, in fact, was happily dancing with his lovely wife Carol. Two days later I received the even more shocking news that Darrell was gone. I still don’t know the details of what happened, but, I know that this is a big loss for many people who looked up to Darrell and whose lives were affected along the way by knowing and spending time with this man. I was one of them.
I met Darrell at an ACI Convention back when I first got involved with ACI International in 1998.
Darrell and I got to know each other through our mutual work on committees like E-701 Materials for Concrete Construction. Darrell was with Lonestar Cement at the time which was eventually bought by Buzzi Unicem. Our current E-701 Chair Tom Greene was originally introduced to me by Darrell as they worked together in Lonestar many years ago. In fact, Darrell introduced me to many people in those early years which made coming to ACI Conventions less daunting and much more fun. Darrell’s expertise was on Supplementary Cementing Materials and Slag in particular. He was well versed in concrete in general, but, liked to help educate and share the breadth and depth of knowledge he attained on such an important component of understanding durability and the compatibility of materials to achieve sustainable structures. He was good at it too. He would help anyone who asked whether it was people in his local industry, his local Chapter, other members, other committees, students or helping out with educational sessions and presentations. He helped put together and moderate these sessions and was never afraid to pitch in where needed. In 1999, ACI recognized Darrell as a Fellow of the Institute. A couple of our senior sales staff were in New Orleans for the Green Build Show last fall and our Regional Manager Brian noted that he was a great guy and tried to help them out. His daughter was getting married, but, he still managed to meet them for dinner only 3 days before the wedding. He said he was a very proud Daddy.
In the early 2000’s, we both were members of an ACI Board Committee called the Educational Activities Committee (EAC). We had an amazing team of people and had a lot of fun. It was customary for us all to go out for dinner after our meeting on Saturday night at the beginning of the Convention. I don’t think we ever missed a dinner. I think Puerto Rico stands out as our EAC dinner highlight though. Carol joined Darrell for this convention. Lots and lots of rum which suited Darrell just fine.
I was thinking about all the things I will miss without Darrell, but, I’m trying to not be sad about it, but, rather, feel that I’m a different person now for knowing him. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever had a great discussion about guns so much with anyone who had a gleam in his eye like Darrell. He loved his guns and loved his hunting, second only to his love of his wife and family.
In 2005, Darrell was helping with what was supposed to be the 2005 New Orleans Convention. Due to hurricane Katrina, the convention was relocated with only about 4 months of preparation to Kansas City. This nearly killed our mutual friends, Bill Rushing and Mark Cheek, who were the Co-Chairs and just spent the last 4 years planning this convention. It was later held in 2009 in New Orleans and Darrell pitched in again. It’s kind of ironic that we are back this weekend in Kansas City for the ACI Convention. It definitely won’t be the same without him. We will, however, be raising some glasses of dark rum in Darrell’s honor. And Darrell, if you are listening, no we won’t be drinking Captain Morgan and I also can’t do the diet coke thing…sorry, buddy.
You will be missed.