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A lesson from a business leader with Alzheimer’s: live in the moment

A lesson from a business leader with Alzheimer’s: live in the moment
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September 28, 2020
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Ron Maddocks has always looked up to his father, Roger. His dad was his hero, not just in the “dad” sense, but in real life. Dad could solve any problem. Answer any question. And he was a hero in the business world too, helping lead thousands of employees across eight countries for the global conglomerate, Eastman Kodak Company.

And now, at age 78, Roger is teaching Ron (and his eight other children and 34 grandchildren) a lesson that an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis has forced upon him: live in the moment.

Roger-and-CaroleWeb.jpgRoger, who lives in Fort Collins with his wife, Carole, and the family of daughter Debbie, is afflicted by one of the classic symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: memory loss. To those who know Roger, this is a stunning reversal for a man who managed nearly 3,000 employees around the world for Kodak, was executive professor of management for Monfort College at the University of Northern Colorado, and helped guide the college to receive the Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award in 2004 – the first college of business to ever earn the honor.

Today, Roger doesn’t know what day it is. His recollection of much of his life is gone. But, in a tragic way, he’s happy.

“One of the hardest things for me early on was realizing that my Dad was as happy as I’ve ever seen him,” said Ron. “He would greet me with a big smile and a warm hug, and tell me what a great guy I am and how much he loved me. But he couldn’t remember what we did yesterday, what day it was today, or how to get to the grocery store.”

Among Ron’s regrets is that it took Alzheimer’s disease to help his father, who is now in mid-stage dementia, put away the stress of his business life and enjoy the moment.  

“I wish he could have been this carefree when I was growing up. To me, he always seemed so consumed with work or worried about money,” said Ron. “And I never realized what a great guy he thinks I am. Now here he was happy and so proud of me…and in early stages of dementia.  But I came to see this as a real blessing. He was in the process of being overcome with dementia, and he was okay. He wasn’t worried about tomorrow, and couldn’t remember yesterday, but today he was happy.” 

A business inspiration

Alzheimer’s disease isn’t a new phenomenon in the Maddocks family. Roger’s sister has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and his mother was fully gripped by the disease when she passed at age 104. Roger knew about the disease and was concerned about it.

The family connection to dementia – along with a chance contact with an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer – has led to an opportunity for the Maddocks family to make a positive impact on the search for a cure for the disease.

“We got an e-mail one day from Teresa Valko (former California board member and current chair of the Cortez/Durango Walk to End Alzheimer’s), who described herself as an ‘avid volunteer’ for the Alzheimer’s Association,” said Ron. “She had just received some (silicone) rings that she ordered from us and she loved them! She told us that she ordered the ones she did because they reminded her of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Promise Garden flowers, and asked if we would be interested in partnering with the Association.”

That partnership has led Ron, his wife, Julie, and his brother, John, to set up new product lines in silicone ring offerings that mirror the flowers in the Alzheimer’s Promise Garden: purple for those who have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s, yellow for those who are caregivers, orange for supporters of the Association in its search for a cure, blue for those living with the disease, and white for the future: the first survivor of Alzheimer’s.

In the joint promotion, Ron, Julie and John through their company, Staggerings, LLC, will commit half of the profits from the sale of their Alzheimer’s-themed products to the Alzheimer’s Association to support research for a cure for the sixth-leading cause of death, and the only leading disease without a prevention, treatment or cure.

This is personal for the Maddocks family

The Maddocks family prides itself on pulling together, whether it’s for family gatherings or to coordinate care for Roger, the family patriarch. This initiative with the Alzheimer’s Association is no different.

“We want the people who wear these rings to remember the ones they love who no longer walk with them, either in mind or in body,” said Ron. “We want them to know that they are not alone. And we want them to know that the Alzheimer’s Association is there to help them through this journey.”

To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association collection of Promise Garden-themed rings, go to https://staggerings.com/pages/alz-landing-page and use the code ALZ at the time of purchase to ensure that funds will be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.

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