Meenen will long be remembered as beacon of kindness

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Pete Meenen

Pete Meenen

"Where everybody knows your name, And they’re always glad you came; You want to be where people know troubles are all the same; You want to be where everybody knows your name.”

The song from the sitcom “Cheers” has been running through my head since I heard the sad news of Pete Meenen’s death.

At the Brentwood Family YMCA, Pete knew everybody’s name. He was the first face I saw walking in and often the last person I spoke with on my way out.

“How’s it going today, Jodi?” I can still hear his voice clearly. Pete’s smile radiated a kindness and a gentleness that always made me happy.

I often wondered how he could remember our names. What a gift. Pete took the time to talk to me and really listened.

Steve Saxton, district executive director of the Brentwood Family YMCA, shared how he broke the news the staff.

“Perhaps few faces in a YMCA are as recognizable as the greeter who meets the morning faithful, the early risers who start their day with us when the welcome center is a little quieter than usual. For more than 20 years, Pete was that face in our YMCA. His loss will be felt deeply by all of us, our staff and our members. It’s been a true blessing for 13 years to have worked with and experienced life with Pete.”

On Facebook, Roger Grove, operations executive at the Y, shared a similar post. The outpouring of love from members was amazing. Many mentioning as I did in opening this column that “he always called me by name.”

What a great lesson for all of us that one simple act of kindness impacted thousands of people.

Please lift up Pete’s wife, Fran, his two children, Peter and Paula, and their entire family in your thoughts and prayers. They will need to feel our love in the days and weeks ahead.

If you knew Pete, you knew he was a man of strong faith. It gives me peace knowing he was called home to be with his lord and savior. When he came through the gates of heaven, God called him by name, saying, “Pete, welcome home, son.”

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