Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Harry Dennis passes away

My boss at TEC, Harry Dennis, 70, passed away last Sunday at his winter place in Vero Beach of complications from a decade-long lung deterioration.  He was one of the first employees hired in 1974 (Bob Nourse created TEC I in 1957) and created TEC IV in Madison, which still persists, and became sole owner of TEC Wisconsin-Michigan in 1989;  there are seven different TEC/Vistage organizations, but the dominant one is headquartered in San Diego.  
        More importantly, he embodied, lived and espoused the TEC values around non-commercialized service to our members.  As TEC has grown nationally, and now internationally into 14 countries as Vistage , Harry was the Keeper of the Flame, the person who represented what TEC is all about both nationally and internationally.  That’s important as these seven entities moved through different ownerships and we fight to maintain the original value proposition.
He hired me as a TEC Chair beginning in 1990.
A Chair’s relationship with Harry (we’re actually independent contractors, not employees) could be tumultuous when he very pointedly railed at us for not providing the value he felt we should to members … but if you were ever in stress either personally or professionally, he couldn’t have been more supportive as you moved through it.  That creates loyalty.
We often wondered how come we didn’t “run” TEC as we espoused organizations should be run to our members.  Eventually, we figured it out … that Harry truly treated us like family, with full faith and trust (usually).
He struggled for years on what should happen to TEC Wisconsin-Michigan should anything incapacitate him.  He shared with us many scenarios.  But finally he picked the best one of all:  TEC Wisconsin-Michigan would never be sold.  It would be held within a trust, and operated from within that trust.  The trustees are in Milwaukee, and Priscilla Kemp is our CEO and has been for two years; she’s a 37-year employee of TEC so understands all of our values.
In 2009, he said to us, “I’m hanging around until when Bob Nourse did.  (Note:  Bob Nourse died at age 94.)  That gives me another 25 years of helping this great event with our CEOs continue to grow and unfold …”
We wish he had.

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