By Jason Moore
Yesterday was tough. The funeral service and visitation for Melissa “Isse” Waddey, former President of LifePoint Health and my dear friend, was held in Nashville. My best estimate is that between 1,200 - 1,500 people were in attendance to pay their respects. As I listened to story after story about how she affected people in a variety of ways, consistent themes emerged.
A very large group of people who I’ve interacted with over the years had heard of Melissa. When her name would come up in conversation with this group, there were always questions around how she was “skyrocketing” through her career or statements of respect from seeing her speak on various topics. “What is her secret?” was a common follow up question.
There is also a decent number of people who had the opportunity to work alongside Melissa. And those people know there was no secret. She was brilliant. She was a force. She could get groups of people who may not have typically worked well together to rally around a cause and produce great results. And, most importantly, she cared. She cared about doing the right thing in the right way. She cared about LifePoint’s mission of Making Communities Healthier. She cared about performance. But, most of all, she cared about the person sitting across from her no matter their status.
Which gets to the last group of people on my mind today, and who I saw in droves yesterday at the service. If you were one of the lucky ones who, for whatever reason, she tapped as one of her own... well, let’s just say from that moment on your life truly was altered. Over the last two years through her battle with cancer, in real moments, she would throw out the phrase “my people.” Those words meant something. If I could nail down Melissa’s superpower it would be that she was a Builder of People. Story after story shared during her service and visitation reaffirmed that title. I heard things like the following:
“Melissa pushed me on things I knew I couldn’t do. And I was wrong.”
“My entire career is due to Isse believing in me.”
“She will always be my inspiration.”
“I’ve had this hope that we were going to be able to get the band back together with her leading me again.”
“I’ve been with Melissa for 20 years. And we were always in sync. Now we argued… a lot! But we were always in sync.”
“Simply put, Stratasan wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her taking a risk on me early.”
Yep. That last one was me. It is me. And it’s one of the Stratasan stories that will always be told. Looking back, it’s not clear exactly what happened eight years ago to allow me to be tapped as one of her people, but I am forever changed. And forever grateful.
Rest peacefully, Isse. I hope we, as your people, pass along your legacy, in some meaningful way, to others in our lives.
Click here to to view an interview with Melissa Waddey, as she shares her story of battling young onset colorectal cancer.