R.I.P. Stephen Covey and Celeste Holm

I just heard that renowned leadership expert and author of the best-seller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen R. Covey, has died at age 79 following injuries he sustained in a bicycle accident three months ago. I had the opportunity to record a phone interview with Mr. Covey a couple of years ago. I also met him when he appeared on The Christophers’ TV show about six or seven years ago. My primary impression when I met him was not just that he was a smart man, but also that he was a kind person who was bursting with joy.

Most guests we booked would be friendly when they arrived at the studio and were introduced to the host and crew members. Covey was not only friendly; he burst into song.

When I took him into the make-up room to meet our make-up artist, Janet, he spontaneously started singing “Bless Your Beautiful Hide” from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!” Janet appreciated the compliment, and the whole crew was left smiling at this unexpected performance. In that impromptu moment, Covey put everyone at ease and demonstrated an important leadership principle, whether he intended to or not. If you can connect with people on an individual level, inspire respect in them, and even make them smile, they’ll want to do a good job for you. You won’t just be a boss; you’ll be a leader. Covey obviously practiced what he preached which accounts for his ongoing success in sharing these lessons with others.

Another passing of note this weekend was Academy Award-winning actress Celeste Holm, age 95, who appeared on several Christopher TV programs with our founder, Father James Keller, during the 1950s – and who was a guest at several Christopher Awards ceremonies over the last decade. It just so happens that my primary memory of Ms. Holm also involves a song. During one of the Awards ceremonies hosted by our then-Director, Msgr. Jim Lisante, he asked her to come on stage and the two of them sang an impromptu rendition of “Accentuate the Positive,” a classic song that reflects the Christopher approach to life. It was a sweet moment, and all of us at The Christophers remember Ms. Holm as the epitome of class, grace, humor and dignity.

We offer our prayers and condolences to the families of Stephen Covey and Celeste Holm as they grieve their loss.

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.

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  • http://www.inspiring-quotes.org Inspiring Quotes

    Too sad to see Dr. Stephen Covey won’t be with us anymore. He touched millions of lives, including mine. May his soul rest in peace.

  • Dr. John Fox

    I was deeply saddened to learn that Celeste Holm had died. The portrait Tony Rossi provided about her connection to The Christophers was most interesting. I have seen some of the broadcasts Father Keller did, including the very famous ones with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Wlliam Holden, Paul Douglas and Loretta Young. But I never had the pleasure of seeing an old kinescope of Ms. Holm.

    From a number of perspectives, I see her as emblematic of the spirit of The Christopher movement. She was not a Catholic (at least I don’t think so), but she really cared about what was important, and it doesn’t surprise in the least that she and Father Keller connected.

    All you have to do to is see her performance “Gentleman’s Agreement” . To those who may not be familiar with it, this film took on the subject of Anti-Semitism. The stars were Gregory Peck, Dorothy Malone, and John Garfield.

    Ms. Holm played the role of Anne Dettrey, the fashion editor of a New York magazine that hires Gregory Peck to write an article on Anti-Semitism. She is wonderful in that role, and she received an Oscar as the Best Supporting Actress of 1947.

    Her acceptance speech for the Oscar was short, but very much to the point: she was grateful that this film talked about something that was very important.

    May she rest in peace, and may what she stood for and believed in for all humaniy come to pass sooner rather later.