When I think of Sameer, I recall unbounded thoughtfulness, humor, and comfort.
Sameer was thoughtful about people in his life, actions that he took, and topics of conversation. He cared deeply about us, staying in touch well – even as our lives got more and more complicated. He was thoughtful about almost every subject. Start a conversation with Sameer, and you would always get a response based on a depth of consideration. He had strong opinions about economics, markets, business, education, religion – almost any weighty topic. Unlike most people, Sameer freely shared his opinions with anyone who would listen (and many who didn’t ask). With Sameer, though, you could discuss and debate these topics, regardless of whether your beliefs and his were similar. Sameer always considered your opinion, occasionally even allowing it to have an impact on his position.
Of course, Sameer had thoughtful, deeply held opinions about topics that deserved MUCH less thought. He was the first to teach me the terms boondoggle, OAG, and GUE. He taught me how to get the best upgrades to business class, maximize frequent flier miles, and optimize travel time. His thoughtfulness about the airline industry knew no bounds. He once evaluated the route maps of major US airlines and determined that Continental should open a hub in Cleveland. 1 year later, they did.
To my children, Sameer was extremely thoughtful. He stayed with us often on trips to the area, and they had a deep relationship with him. He even went on a date with our 6-year-old daughter, Ellie, bringing her to an event at our 15th reunion.
Most notably, my children had an awesome comedy routine regarding Sameer. Many of us know that Sameer was the slowest eater in recorded history. Given our household rule that no one can leave the table until everyone is done eating, my children felt tormented by Sameer. They would mimic his ritualistic process of cutting a small piece of meat, placing his silverware down, methodically picking up the fork with the opposite hand. Placing the food in his mouth, chewing at least 50 times, placing the silverware down, picking up his napkin, wiping both corners of his mouth, placing the napkin back, talking incessantly about some arcane topic for 5 minutes, then starting the process up again for the next bite. We are all thankful that Sameer didn’t believe in desert, or dinner would never have ended.
Sameer’s sense of humor was so wonderful, that he delighted in my children’s mimicry. He had that infectious laugh, one of the most notable of any I have known in my life. Audible laughter is all too rare, and it is so important. Almost all of my fondest memories of Sameer include laughter, seemingly endless laughter.
Some of you may recall a most notable aspect of our first year business school show. We decided not to make fun of anybody in the show – not the teachers, not any single person in the GSB community, not Cristina Einstein. Well, if you convert that old video tape to DVD, you’ll realize that there is exactly 1 person who got zinged in the show – Sameer Shah. He was so comfortable with himself as a person that he greeted the remark with nothing more than his infectious laugh. Sameer met every challenge in life with that comfort. When he walked in the room, his affectation said, “I am who I am; you are welcome to come along for the ride, if you like.” Sameer, we are all honored to have been along for the ride.