How My Boss Became My Boss and Work Memories – Mark and Suzanne Gradin

Wow… I have told the following story in varying levels of detail an innumerable amount of times in the last 5 1/2 years and am saddened beyond measure to have to add another chapter to it:

I met Bill Dickson on Friday, January 6, 2012. My soon to be boss, Mike O’Rear, was showing me around the Global Mapping International offices and introduced me to Bill as well as the rest of the staff. Always full of knowledge and often having a lot to say that first introduction to Bill was no exception and I recall Mike cutting off the conversation at some point and continuing my tour.

A bit later as I sat with Mike and he to asked me if I would be interested in the following job description: he wanted me to come on board at GMI and work very closely with him on “about a dozen projects” he had in mind. “How would you feel about that very vague job description?” he asked. I said that that sounded great! He then told me a bit about what his own job entailed and the stress he was under. After hearing all that fell to him at GMI I finally said to him “Mike, what if you get hit by a bus?!?”

He paused, thought very carefully, and then said “GMI would be better off without a Mike O’Rear than without a Bill Dickson.” He went on to explain that while he was the one who figured out what GMI was going to do, Bill was the one that made it happen.

Mike had me come in that next Tuesday morning at 10:30am to fill out paperwork & get started at GMI. As many of you know, the next morning, Wednesday, January 11,┬áMike had a severe heart-attack and never regained consciousness….

So after all of 22hrs of being Mike’s assistant, Bill became the interim president and I became his assistant. Those were some pretty difficult times, but God brought us through them. And while Bill moved onto Lightsys last year, and GMI recently ended its ministry, I believe God has done some really good things these last 5 years. Not least of which for me personally is that I met my wife, Suzanne, in GMI’s office (Bill used to take credit for introducing us, which may have been the case, but that’s another story).

I know that Bill was really overwhelmed with what suddenly fell to him as the interim president of GMI, but I tried to do what I could to help him, and one of the most encouraging things anyone has ever said about me was something he often told people: “It’s obvious that Mike’s death didn’t take God by surprise because He brought Mark here the day before.”

God was not surprised by Bill’s death either, and while we’re left to wonder why he couldn’t have stayed with us longer, I know he’s been having a good long conversation with Jesus, and probably figuring out all kinds of cool stuff with Mike.

Mark Gradin


My favorite memory of Bill was that we’d become friends at work, (I worked at David c cook) and he came to my office one day with a huge bag of snack mix and said, “you look like you don’t have any problem with self-discipline and I do. I have a proposal for you. I’d like to keep my bag of snack mix at your desk, and I will come once a day for one cup of it, so I don’t eat more than I want to. In return, you can have some of the snack mix whenever you want. Is spicy ok?” And so begun our daily conversations, when bill came to get his snack mix allotment for the day. It brought such a smile to my face-he was a dear man and I’m going to miss him.

Suzanne Gradin

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