Saying Goodbye to a Gentle Giant
By Shirleen Von Hoffmann President and Sales Coach Home Builders AdvantEdge
Most of you knew Jerry Rouleau through his blog, podcast and webinars and as the founder of BuilderRadio and The Selling More Homes Podcast, which he co-hosted with Scott Stroud. Jerry was involved in the housing industry for over 25 years as President of J. Rouleau & Associates, offering public relations, sales, marketing and consulting to Builders. He was active in NAHB and a regular speaker at IBS and many other Builder events.
I had the pleasure and privilege of calling Jerry Rouleau my friend, as many of you do I am sure. Last Tuesday Jerry lost his two year battle with cancer but he battled cancer long before that, in more ways than one.
Many in business may not know what a huge contribution Jerry made to the cancer world. He used his grief, from the loss of his wife Jan to make a real difference in combatting cancer. One of the many things Jerry created was Jan’s House of Hope, a fundraising project which involved building a 3,100 sq. ft. home on a barge – complete with 3 car garage, car in the driveway and fenced in landscaped yard –which toured seven cities on the east coast. The tour generated over $15 million of publicity for cancer awareness in a two-month period. He was also the creator of the National Cancer Awareness Foundation and sat on the boards of various foundations that helped cancer patients in need. From my perspective, as the President of a Cancer Foundation, I can’t imagine raising this kind of money. It is an unbelievable accomplishment in the name of cancer awareness and had to be a lot of work, time and energy.
I got a call from Jerry a few years back, stating he wanted to get to know me better. He was my friend on Facebook and could see that we both had a passion for helping those with cancer. We also had our own Cancer Foundations that helped people with cancer. We chatted for the longest time and I remember hanging up the phone and thinking, man that was a nice guy! I had always known who he was but had no idea that he was so dang nice! We ended up meeting in person for lunch at the IBS show in Las Vegas and really hit it off. Our deep empathy and compassion for people with cancer gave us a common bond aside from the building industry. I can’t think of a kinder, more generous person in the building industry. In fact, recently when I had a cancer patient who was in real financial trouble, I called Jerry to see if he had any ideas and he came to the rescue with some grants to help her immediately. I consider myself to be a pretty resourceful business person and Cancer Advocate but I can’t imagine raising the funds Jerry did; it really is amazing! I told him all the time that he was my HERO! I mean that on the deepest level. I would die happy tomorrow if I could make an impact on the world, like Jerry Rouleau made.
In business it is so rare to find a person like Jerry Rouleau. It is rare to find a successful business person who was so dang nice at the same time! Jerry would talk to anybody and make everyone feel important and acknowledged. Usually you find successful professionals to be full of themselves and they don’t look up very often to acknowledge others unless it’s to their benefit. But not Jerry, he reached out and touched others all day, every day in every way.
When you read the comments on Builder Radio’s blog about Jerry’s passing there is one consistent theme…He reached out to me, he was gracious, generous, giving, kind, caring, optimistic, a Giant in everything he participated in, and a true Gentle Man.
But the one repeated verse you read is, “He was the first to reach out to me”,” he wrote me a kind note”, “he called me on the phone”, “he emailed me”… I think I read at least 20 responses that said, Jerry was the first person to contact me… and that was also the case with me personally. Jerry was the first of my peer group to pick up the phone, call me and just be nice. Being a Builder Consultant can be a lonely business and unfortunately we all get so busy we don’t get much time to call each other on the phone and chat. Jerry made that time…and he made that time with everyone. We can all learn a lesson from Jerry and the life he created.
Jerry was a master at Business, Networking and at Life. I am sure his Family will tell you he was a Master Husband and Father as well. We all should aspire to his example. His death leaves a hole in our industry and an even larger one in our hearts. It is a true loss that cannot be replaced for the building industry but we are all better for knowing him.
Safe Landings our Gentle Giant; we are happy you are home but you will be missed here. You made a huge difference in the world and made this world a better place by being in it.