I am moved to share this message. Last week we said goodbye to an extended family member at Maher & Maher.
Luke Bautista, son of our long-time associate – Chris Bautista – suffered a tragic accident. A young man (age 15), Luke was described as fun, smart, a prankster (“actually a bit twisted” according to his Dad), always smiling and supportive of others. He sounds like a young man of many gifts who surely left us way too soon.
I got back from travel in time to attend Luke’s service. It was, as you might imagine, a solemn affair, but incredibly well-attended. One could feel the support and love flowing from those in attendance for Luke’s Mom, Dad and older brother (and best-friend), CJ. I was so pleased to see so many of Chris’ Maher colleagues in attendance, including several former employees of Maher who had taken time off work to be there and show their support.
Chris, himself, was a rock. Eulogizing Luke, he brought his young son to life with his words. Those of us who knew Luke from afar left knowing his value, his unique gifts and the “light” he had brought to the world in his too-short lifetime. Personally, I was moved by Chris’ strength and poise.
He spoke of the decision that he, Luke’s Mom, Carla, and their 17-year old son, CJ, made in the moments following the news of his passing. Luke’s organs would be donated so he could live on through the lives of others. Chris announced that already a 14 year-old teen in New York lives on today as a result of their decision - a beneficiary of Luke’s heart.
Through the years, Chris Bautista has been a major contributor to Maher & Maher. Reflecting a bit, I can recall that Chris was a leader here in our shift to e-learning design almost 20 years ago. He helped us build and deploy the Broadband Communications industry’s first online university (RoadRunner University for Time Warner Cable). He also led a team that designed the U.S Department of Labor’s first online community of practice (Workforce One). I watched him grow, work long hours and never falter under tight timelines and the pressure that comes from delivering on promised solutions that, quite literally, no one had ever delivered on before. Chris, in short, was (and is) a team player, and a critical member of the Maher Family.
Last week many of his “family” at Maher turned out to support him. It made me proud of the family culture we’ve created here – to see that so many would put their lives on hold to show up for Luke, Chris, Carla and CJ. I know that many, many other members of the Maher family working around the country were there in spirit as well.
We feel the loss of an extended family member. We will be making a donation to the family’s chosen charity, NJ Sharing Network, to honor Luke’s “light” and his life. If you are so inclined, we would invite you to join us.
I am so sorry for your loss, Chris. I don’t understand and cannot begin to be able to explain why things like this happen. We’re proud of you and are here for you if there is anything you need. Luke, you, Carla and CJ will remain in all of our thoughts and prayers in the days and weeks ahead. We wish you all peace and healing in this most difficult of times.