I’d known of Deane Wymer long before I met him. His character and integrity preceded him, reaching me even as a young boy growing up in Enid, and I prayed for an opportunity to meet him one day. While working for a regional CPA firm after graduating from OSU, I attended a conference with hundreds of other accountants, and I could not believe it when Deane grabbed the seat next to me. It was one of the most divinely orchestrated moments of my life. Neither Deane nor I could have predicted how much it would alter the trajectory of our careers, or our lives.
Although I was blessed to have Deane as a mentor and business partner, I am most grateful for what he taught me about being a man of principle. It’s only since his recent passing that I’ve felt the magnitude of his impact – on his family, friends, colleagues and community. He’s often described as kind or gentle, and while those things are true, the depth of his care and attention to others was truly remarkable. Hearing stories from our staff, clients and partners the past few days has caused me to treasure these rare and wonderful qualities about Deane:
- He was interested in others. Deane loved to learn about what was going on in your life, especially in the lives of young people. He would ask about your family, your hobbies and your dreams for the future. He was an intentional and patient listener, and as one of our staff so eloquently put it, “he made you feel like you were the only person in the room who mattered when he spoke to you.” One year at our company retreat, a team member began to cry when thanking her coworkers for their support as she went through a difficult divorce. Deane got up quietly and shuffled across the room to give her a hug. That was the kind of founder we had – caring, sincere, people before business – and it’s what I hope our culture always reflects.
- He was an encourager. Deane took every opportunity to praise people for a job well done or show confidence in their abilities. When our CFO Avadelle got one of her first promotions at Wymer Brownlee, Deane called to congratulate her saying, “I’ve only met you a few times, but I can tell that you are a young lady your parents are very proud of.” And after our tax director Erica took over as manager of the Fairview office, she would ask Deane’s advice on how to solve a problem. He’d chuckle sweetly and simply ask, “How does that make you feel? What do you think you need to do?” With the right people on his team, Deane knew he could trust us to do the right thing, and we just needed some encouragement to trust ourselves.
- He was a servant. Deane always put others before himself – helping people simply because he could and without expecting anything in return. He noticed what the world around him needed, he loved people unconditionally and was a man of action – three things we desperately need more of today, in my opinion. Deane was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met but was very slow to take credit. In fact, he’d probably be embarrassed reading this blog about himself on our company website.
- He was faithful. It was one of the greatest privileges of my life to watch Deane come to know the Lord at the age of 68, and I’ll never forget the day he called me into his office to say with confidence that he would be going to heaven one day so I didn’t need to worry anymore. Deane was deeply committed to his church and was impeccable with his word. His legacy of integrity and faith are central to our firm.
In their authenticity, these traits are hard to find today, which makes Deane’s life and legacy all the more inspiring. My hope is that we can all find ways to listen, to encourage, to serve and to keep our promises like Deane did. The world would be a better place with more of him in it.
Blog by Kyle Brownlee, Chief Executive Officer.