Have you ever known, perhaps when there is a death in the family, the kind of kind soul who steps up and generously gives of themselves? Dinner, picking people up at the airport, a shoulder to cry on, they just seem like an angel in a time of need. Those people have our gratitude.
Now...have you ever known someone who was like that every day? Selfless, kind, generous, supportive and good natured, just because they are? That sort of "angel" is rarer still. In my humble opinion, Joe Ferrara, who passed away last night at the young age of 55, was that kind of guy.
If you don't know who Joe was, you should. He was the author of the Sellsius real estate blog and was a real trailblazer on the cutting edge of technology, social media and real estate. I had the privilege of meeting Joe through our shared membership in the Lucky Striker Social Media club in New York City last year and he was a source of support and encouragement. I went to my first Lucky Striker meeting last summer at a time when my blogging efforts had begun to tail off. I felt that I didn't have the time. Knowing Joe's notoriety as a blogger, I spoke with him at some of the meetings and he encouraged me to have fun with it and break some rules. It was just a few brief conversations, but I appreciated his warmth, and by the time I saw him again in December of 2009 at Triple Play in Atlantic City, I had jumped back into blogging headfirst. He noticed, and that was gratifying.
Triple Play was where I had the opportunity to spend the most time I have ever spent with him, and he was committed to raising the bar in the real estate industry. I loved his observations and insights, and I was proud that he was friendly with me. In the ensuing months, whenever he spoke at a local event, such as Westchester Real Estate professionals (which Joe co-founded with Scott Forcino), I was there. I still have notes on my Droid from the January Seminar in White Plains that was almost snowed out. He wasn't charging any money. He wasn't selling anything. He was sharing his knowledge. That was Joe.
As recently as this past month, Joe was in the REALTOR magazine with a piece encouraging agents to take on pro-bono projects- this was something he spoke with passion about in Atlantic City. I wasn't the only one who noticed what a happy enigma this man was (I can count on one hand the number of attorneys I actually like. Joe deserved to be counted twice at that). When he got sick earlier this year, there was an outpouring of support.
And now that he has passed away, we should mourn his leaving us. I really hoped I could have been around him more. We are all- all of us- diminished without Joe Ferrara.
UPDATE: For those of you who are curious about what sort of impact Joe had on people, read more at the Phoenix Real Estate Guy's blog.