Josh Litwin, Boy Scouts, Jr. High, High School, NYC, Stanford

This photo that Maria Makowski Franco provided sums it all up for me.

Her caption was also perfect (just above the photo below).  Sameer laughed pretty hard at his own stories! Which made me laugh even harder.  He had a simple, pure joy when he laughed.  Added to my love of him, since I knew how insanely smart and capable he was.

Not many people know this, but Sameer and I had competing (illicit) bubble gum businesses in Junior High.  We each bought packs of gum before school, and sold them at a mark-up during the day.  It was head-to-head, we each had a set of other students helping with distribution and security (we weren’t the strongest guys, and lots of big kids knew we had gum).  Without knowing it, we both wrote about the experience when we each applied to Stanford Business School.  And we both got in!

Sameer’s passing has hit me really hard.  I more or less followed right behind him, through Boy Scouts, Hoover, Satellite and beyond.  He had a huge effect on my direction.  He provided me an example without which I know I could not have achieved what this life has given me.

Sameer was one year older than me.  He became a patrol leader in our Boy Scout troop, so did I.  He became an Eagle Scout, so did I.  He was in Student Govt, then president of the junior high, me too.  Similar story in High School.  Student gov’t, Brain Bowl captain, me too, right after him.  He graduated college, became a management consultant, described it to me my senior year (I had no idea what it was), then that’s exactly what I did as my first job.  When I didn’t know what to do after a few years of consulting, he told me about going to Stanford Business School.  Guess what, that’s what I did too, two years after him.

He and I stayed in touch through the years.  When I was an aid worker in Indonesia 20 years ago, he flew all the way there to visit, literally half-way around the world.  He came out to San Fran for my wedding seven years ago, and had been out here several times since.  I visited his parents about 18 months ago, to introduce my children to them, and to see Surekha, and meet their beautiful children.  Mr. and Mrs. Shah are really a treasured uncle and aunt to me, they are family as far as I’m concerned.

The guy had a huge effect on my life, and his departure has left a huge hole in it.  I’m so sad for the Shah family, especially Surekha and the children.  I have seen the strength of the Shah family up close through the years, and hope their cohesiveness will give them comfort in this terrible time.  Like all of you, I will miss him so very very much.

Sameer, cracking himself up over the retelling of the Shah-Wallace proposal to Mrs. Kansas at SHS (Squid Lips, Dec 2009)  {Brother Shalin in background}