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FCW Insider: Thoughts about Marty... and 'community'

It has been a tough week in the government IT world. Of course, we have been closely following the status of Marty Wagner (July 7 ... July 8... July 9...), who fell off the roof of his two-story Arlington, Va. home on July 6 sustaining serious head injuries...

While I'm on the subject, there isn't anything new to report. I will not get into the habit of doing updates for the sake of updates, particularly when there isn't anything to report. That being said, there isn't much new to report. As far as I know, Wagner is still in the intensive care unit at George Washington University hospital. My suspicion is that we are in the waiting period as doctors do everything they can. As we noted yesterday, and friends who have spoken to his wife reiterated to me this morning, the situation was essentially unchanged and that it could remain that way for several days. As I told somebody, "Waiting sucks!" Just keep sending good thoughts toward Foggy Bottom.

But there have been other ripples through the community this week. In case you missed it, Sandy Bates' father passed away last week. Bates, of course, was the former commission of the then Federal Technology Service. Here is the obit for Bates' father, Keith Emanuel Nelson:

Keith Emanuel Nelson
Colonel U.S. Army Reserves Retired

On July 3, 2008 due to complications of Alzheimer's Disease of McLean, VA. Beloved husband for 65 years of Virginia W. Nelson; dear father of Sandra N. Bates (Tommy); uncle of Roger Case (Cindy). Friends may call at MURPHY FALLS CHURCH FUNERAL HOME 1102 W. Broad St. (Route 7) on Monday, July 7, 2008 for a memorial gathering from 2-4 pm. A memorial service will be held at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer 1545 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, VA 22101 on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 2:00 pm.Inurnment Arlington National Cemetery to be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to Capital Hospice Development Office, 6565 Arlington Blvd, Suite 500, Falls Church, VA
22042 or Alzheimer's Association 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17 Chicago, Ill 60601-7633

All of this has made me think about "community." Whenever we hire new reporters for FCW, I almost always tell them that FCW is a community publication. The difference is that our community is defined by the work people do, rather then on where they live. And in all my years covering the government IT community, it is a community of people who are very focused on helping the government do its work better. Yes, the vendors in this community are in it to make a profit, but they also work along government employees -- often for years.

Communities are interesting. Yes, communities can be gossipy. And yes, communities can form cliques. But they are also like extended families. The response to Marty's incident has, frankly , been heartwarming. People have been chomping at the bit to do something to help him and to help his family. They aren't doing it because there is something to gain. After all, this is a retired government person. They are doing it because... this is a person in need and a community rallies around those in need.

A personal note, I have mentioned a few times that I went through a very different trauma earlier this year when my house burned down. Of course, it doesn't compare to what Marty is undergoing because, in my case, it is just stuff, and stuff can be replaced. That being said, Marty was very kind to call me and offer whatever help he could. At that point, I didn't know what I needed. I'm sure Wagner's family is having similar feelings. But the thoughts do help.

Of course, part of the reason people are rallying around Marty is because it is Marty. I've had many conversations with FOWs this week -- friends of Wagner -- and it is remarkable Marty has touched so many people.

Here is one comment that somebody sent me: "Chris, thanks for posting well wishes for Marty... Marty is a special person. He's infectious. People get it as soon as they meet him and that's very rare."

Wagner has a remarkable combination of talents and skills -- he is remarkably honest, and yet never comes across as arrogant, prickly, or in people's face. That gives him a remarkable ability to question people on issues, and yet not make them defensive. Yet through his questions and by pressing them, he spurs people to go beyond where they could have gone otherwise. He thinks, ponders, and he puts those thoughts into action. Heelicits loyalty, and he builds teams.

In most quarters, all of that seems like a pretty good definition of leadership.

So... not much to report at the moment.

I'm out of town this weekend for the wedding of Adam Tuss and Caroline Baker. Many of you will know Tuss either because he does our FCW-Federal News Radio show and, if you are here in Washington, you definitely hear his voice on DC's all-news station, WTOP radio, where he covers the "sprawl and crawl" beat.  Both Tuss and his wife have become good friend. In fact, FCW interviewed both of them last year as we kicked off our second season of the radio show and they talked about their engagement. Well, the wedding is finally here. So I will be in Nashville this weekend.

That being said, I will be tethered to my Blackberry and will make sure to break away if there is anything urgent to repo t or if there is any way that we can help Marty or his family. (People have been kind enough to offer to mow the lawn at his house -- how kind is that?!)

Again, Wagner's family knows that people are ready to help however they can. Unfortunately there just isn't that much we can do right now. Rest assured, there will be an opportunity to help later during Marty's recovery, I'm sure. But just to reiterate, there are ways you can get in touch with Marty. If you want to send him a card, we are collecting them and we will make sure that they get to the family. You can send it to:

Marty Wagner
c/o Christopher Dorobek/1105 Media
3141 Fairview Park Dr., Suite 777
Falls Church, VA 22042

You can also leave a note on Wagner's Facebook page. And we created a Facebook group in support of Wagner, where there are almost 41 people at last count.

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Jul 10, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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