Try as we might, we can no longer hear this lion’s roar. John Veneris, husband, brother, father, son, NAR leader, mentor, teacher, but most of all, a dear friend died last week after a valiant struggle with lung cancer. For us, his family and friends, this is a devastating loss.

John is, (I am not yet able to say, was), one of those rare people who understood. He got it. Most people can see forests or needles; John had a great ability to see needles, branches, trees, forests, the ground, the water, and the sky. He also understood how interconnected they and we are.

I am a member of John’s REALTOR® family. We worked together on the Virtual Office Website project for the association in early part of the last decade. John was one of my most valued ‘touchstones’ with the group because he had a great skill for discernment. He would listen first, reflect, deliberate, and then decide. It made him effective and passionate in his conclusion. As challenging as the project and the subsequent events were for us as volunteers, one of the great outcomes was my friendship with John.

In the subsequent years, when I needed the truth…John was one of my first calls. He told it as it was. He was a great mentor and teacher for me. He was someone who knew when encouragement was required and also when correction was necessary. He was a true friend.

A year and a half ago, we shared a cab in Las Vegas at the national convention. We talked about life and family. He was so proud of his sons Nick and TJ. Two fathers celebrating our children. We shared the “wisdom” that decades of marriage to great women provides. Yes Dee, we agreed that we were still in need of improvement, although we were satisfied with our progress, even if you and my wife Susan knew better. John also said that my wife could pass as his sister Susan.

In hindsight, we talked a lot about REALTOR® stuff. John was a master at the business, the profession, and the organization. On every level his even, thoughtful perspective was understood.

He grew up with great life lessons: Leave things better than you found them, a hard day’s work is a good, honorable thing, and it is fair to be paid for that hard work. Honest and true principles just like the man himself.
He was so good at NAR, that his conversation about becoming NAR President someday made perfect sense. Without reservation I responded with enthusiasm to his suggestion:” John, you would make a great NAR President.”

But John’s real gift to us is how he cared and nurtured each of us. He helped us raise our game to be better than our best…to reach toward excellence. Not just in business, but in life. In truth, John is one of those people, who by example and instruction, makes me and those around him better people.
Today, the lion’s roar is missing. It is silent… and I try as I might that gentle roar, with the Chicago accent…is now memory.

It is silent and the stillness is unsettling and uncomfortable.

For all of us who have experienced the grief that comes with the death of loved one, there is nothing we can say that will fill this void in those who are left behind. But, one of the things I learned on my own journey through the grief process after my father passed away was that you learn to better cope with the void, and even begin to celebrate the gift of their life when the immediacy of grief begins to break. My prayer for John’s family is that it comes sooner rather than later. In the meantime, please know that John is in our hearts forever. He is more than what he did. Thank you for sharing your husband and father with his REALTOR® family… Please let us help you celebrate the gift of his life in ours.