By the calendar, I’ve been covering the ag retail marketplace for almost 14 years now. During that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to make hundreds of industry friends, dozens of good friends and a few really close friends — the kind that I’ve grown comfortable enough to share things such as my family life with (and, of course, pictures of my son).
Infrequently (thankfully), I’ve had to say good-bye to some of these friends. In most cases, their passings were sad times, but not unexpected. Lingering illnesses or old age have been the most common causes for losing these good friends.
On occasion, however, a friend’s death is the result of a totally unforeseen tragedy, something that hits like a brick between the eyes — quickly, painfully and with such force it almost knocks you over.
This is one of those times. One month ago, Ingrid Livingston, a long-time member of the New Leader/Highway Equipment Co. (HECO) family, lost her life in a senseless act. She was only 41 years old. I will spare you the details of what happened that fateful January morning, but suffice to say it was way too soon for Ingrid to leave the industry she was a part of and those of us who knew her well.
“Words cannot express how we feel in the wake of the horrible news of Ingrid’s death,” said HECO in a statement to the media. “During her time at HECO, Ingrid touched the lives of so many people throughout the industry. To many in the industry, Ingrid was the face of HECO.”
This was certainly true in my case. When I first started attending trade shows for CropLife® magazine, Ingrid was one of the first people I met. She always made sure I had a seat up-front at any event, that I could reach the right people for follow-up interviews and I was kept in the loop when it came to announcements, product launches and HECO-held functions.
All these traits would have easily classified Ingrid as one of my good industry friends. But she was more than that, however. Oftentimes, Ingrid would tell me about her two daughters, Carly and Sophia, as they grew up. Once I became a father for the first time in 2008, Ingrid always was quick to offer up some advice on parenting and eager to look at the latest pictures I had stored in my mobile phone.
Ingrid also spoke about her future plans. Although she was quite satisfied with her career at HECO, she was nonetheless earning a Master’s degree in business administration from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA, not far from her Cedar Rapids home.
“Ingrid was and always will be a part of HECO,” concluded the media statement. “The memory of her vibrant smile, engaging personality and kind heart will not fade from the minds of those whose lives she touched.”
I agree. Rest in peace, Ingrid. You will be missed . . .