I didn't know Mr. Nick Ashford well when I had the honor of spending some quality time with him earlier this year. That said, it did not take me long to understand that I was sharing a very special moment, with a very special man.
I met Mr. Ashford at a private dinner, along with his amazingly talented wife Mrs. Valerie Simpson, and their children, as the guest of my mentor and good friend Mr. Quincy Jones. We joined the family as they celebrated Nick's birthday earlier this year in Manhattan, and it could not have been a more special evening.
Late into the evening, and on into the wee hours of the morning there was laughter, love and memories shared by all. But what I remember most of all, was the humility and kindness of one Mr. Nick Ashford. I also remember sitting across from him, and having a fairly deep conversation about what was "important" in life, and I remember marveling at his stated commitment to give more of his time to and for causes he believed in. He wanted to spend more time giving back.
This was the enduring memory I had of this man as I departed his own birthday party. Not of yet another celebrity obsessed with themselves, but a man who had his priorities straight, and was more interested in understanding the gifts he had to give to others in the future, than any gifts he might have been given personally that evening.
This man was and remains a "class act," and if anyone deserves to be "promoted," and to go on to a better place -- Mr. Nick Ashford certainly qualifies.
He will be missed, even by those who called him a new friend. My deep and sincere condolences extend to Mrs. Valerie Simpson, their children, and to the entire family.
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama.