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Today, David and Lori are finding solutions to land management, and translating these learnings to bettering the ranch they have owned for 20 years. “At first,” said Lori, “the ranch was a family retreat. Over the years we became involved in raising beef cattle. At the same time, we are working to restore the land to a better state than it was 20 years ago,” she explained.
We are working to restore the land to a better state - Lori
Trey Wilkinson recalled in an interview how Ted Bauer lived the philosophy that we are put on this earth to produce and every day you should “get up and get after it, keep your mind and body engaged.” David and Lori, like many AIM colleagues, are living that philosophy. For them, it currently translates into their goal to live off the land, and to transition from selling beef wholesale to offering their grass-fed beef on the retail market.
The day we spoke, David was planning to finish the interview and head back out to his tractor, which is air-conditioned and thus enables him to work in the heat of the Texas summer. Even with a tractor from 1980, which has some old school elements, David says how amazing the modernized farming equipment is. The missing piece he added was a radio with bluetooth capability.
Lori has a very large vegetable garden and is a trained master gardener. In July when the heat ended the vegetable growing season, she went to work canning tomatoes, freezing green beans and peaches. She has jars of salsa, spaghetti sauce, and other food staples lining her shelves.
I am a big proponent of knowing where your food comes from
Meanwhile, they are both master naturalists, working to restore their land to a more natural grass land. “If you visualize the last 100-150 years,” said David, “the land had been torn up, turned into farms and the native grasses were stomped out.” There is a volunteer program through Texas A&M to bring awareness of nature, and through a partnership between Texas A&M and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Lori and David enrolled in education outreach programs. “We felt if we better controlled our land, we could be betters stewards, and so we decided to do it on our own,” said David.
The ranch is located about 95 miles directly west of downtown Houston, enabling Lori and David to spend time with two of their three children who live in Houston. They also have parents living within five miles of them to whom they provide care.
Whether they are busy with family or the farm, David says they have a lot of energy out on the ranch. “We sleep well at night. We are physically tired. Life moves on and this is our new adventure,” he said.
On Easter Sunday morning, Tracy Sullivan passed away after a lengthy battle with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. Tracy was surrounded by the love of her family, who stood fiercely by her side throughout her diagnosis and treatment.
Sheri Morris, her colleague and friend at Invesco, shared that Tracy was with Invesco for 21 years and "in that time touched so many of our lives both professionally and personally. She served as the US Funds chief tax officer and was a well respected expert in Funds taxation at Invesco, as well as, a renowned industry leader serving on the ICI Tax Committee and as a panelist. Tracy had a passion and great talent for product structuring. She met every challenge with excitement and determination to find the best available solutions for Invesco and the Funds’ shareholders. Tracy was a tenacious leader who led by example with integrity and was a fearless champion for her team" said Sheri.
"Tracy faced her illness with courage, strength and determination. Although she was intensely private about her journey, she was comforted by all of the phone calls, visits, and text messages with loving words from many of you. We will remember her as a wonderful colleague who gave freely of her time, offering advice and encouragement to so many. Tracy’s years at Invesco brought her great joy and she placed the highest of importance on the relationships she formed with each of us. She leaves an amazing legacy behind. We are all better for having known her and she will be greatly missed," said Sheri.
"Tracy meant so much to me, from her brilliance and wit, to the way she treated others. Tracy, was a strong woman who led a fantastic team," shared Mindi Lowy, a PWC colleague.
"She was a leader, not only for women, but men as well," said Mindi. "It was amazing for me to watch her instantly connect with young team members at our dinners, making them feel comfortable and confident. Through almost every interaction with Tracy, I was able to learn from her. From the way she treated others, the manner in which she cherished her family,and her determination to push herself to go the extra mile."
Mindi has cards in her office from Tracy for various milestones in her life. She has artwork in her office that they painted together. "I think of Tracy and the lasting impression she has left on me every time I walk
in my office and see the memorabilia. I am a better person because of her and for that I will forever be grateful," said Mindi.
There are many at Invesco whom Tracy touched in her two decades with Invesco and she is missed.
It was great to see so many AIM colleagues connecting after several months, a year or even longer. From Ivy McLemore who was thrilled to see his former boss, Frank Serebrin to Ann Srubar who caught up with her former supervisor, Janet Luby, hugs abounded.
Brandi Scott has returned to recruiting with Experis. "My tenure at AIM first introduced me to the world of recruiting and after running into an old colleague from those days, I've now joined the very team that placed me in roles that have built my career. As an IT Recruiter for Experis, I'm one of a dozen veteran recruiters who work with clients like ExxonMobil, Lyondell, United Airlines, Halliburton, Schlumberger, SCI, Memorial Hermann, TCH, CenterPoint Energy, and several others seeking IT talent. Even caught up with one of my former AIM IT Boot Campers who is now an IT Director! This is so much fun and the biggest reward is the feeling of joy when my candidates receive a job offer," shares Brandi.
I'm thrilled there continues to be more AIM Alumni attending (the happy hours). It's truly special to be part of such a unique group.
Neil Thomas is seeking new opportunities in the world of IT. He shares that after several years operating Buffalo Paint in the Bellaire/Meyerland area, he is selling the business.
Robert Humes started with AIM in October of 1997, just prior to the rollout of the Slash & Burn Project. For those of you who don't remember that project, Robert shared that every computer, monitor, network wire, router... almost the entire IT infrastructure, was replaced. "I've spent many, many hours at Greenway Plaza, and have had the great opportunity to meet, and work with, some fantastic people here," he said.
I had the great opportunity to meet, and work with, some fantastic people during my time at AIM.
"After a great deal of soul-searching, I decided to leave Invesco in November of 2015, ending an 18 year, 1 month, and 2 week tenure (not that I was counting). Since leaving Invesco, I got married and have continued to build my Computer Consulting firm which I have run for the past 15 years or so," said Robert.
More than 70 AIM Alumni gathered at Kirby Ice House for our ninth annual Houston reunion. We were thrilled that Mike Cemo joined the crowd of returning and new faces. It was a great evening to catch up with friends and colleagues.
Sharing memories, laughs and updates included discussions about the $5.7 billion in stock Invesco is paying for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s Oppenheimer Funds unit. The deal is expected to close at the end of the second quarter 2019. It will make Invesco the 13th largest global investment manager and the sixth largest retail investment manager in the U.S. with $1.2 trillion in combined AUM. Individuals still at the firm were sharing how they will be impacted.
At the gathering, various memorabilia were displayed, including buttons with toasters on them. Frank Sererbin, Marketing Director with Sondhelm Partners, shared the story of the toaster button. Frank explained that the buttons were a marketing promotion comparing how people could invest in a CD at a bank and get a free toaster, or they could invest in AIM Charter Fund and grow their assets.
Jim Salners and his wholesalers created the toaster campaign for the AIM Charter Fund. They liked to say that if you invested in a CD and not an AIM Charter Fund, you got toasted.
Other reminiscing included remembering when an employee threw a phone when Mr. Bauer was walking by the group. "He suggested if someone was going to throw something, phones cost $280 so a $22 keyboard would be preferable," remembered one colleague.
AIM hired many of its employees straight out of University, and AIM employees were a family at work, and outside of work, many had children about the same time. "Our babies are now 17 and 18 years old," laughed Shannon Truman.
It was a great crowd and a good time was had by all.
We are saddened to share that Mary Benson passed away Tuesday, January 29, 2019. Mary joined AIM in 1985, and would have celebrated 34 years with the Firm this year in August. Many of you will remember Mary for her generous spirit, her willingness to teach and mentor, her dedication and commitment to many causes.
A memorial service and celebration of Mary's life was held Monday, February 4.
Dana Sutton said that she not only had the privilege of working with Mary for many years, but more importantly had the honor of calling her a friend. "Mary was incredibly intelligent, had a memory like no other and had a wonderful sense of humor. She was very supportive of my daughters - always present at major milestones in their lives. She was there for me if I ever needed anything and I witnessed this type of generosity from her with others throughout the years. She will be greatly missed."
Mary guided many of us through industry changes, set high standards and demonstrated the importance of principles and integrity.
Annie Chong, Global Head of Portfolio Services, shared the following internally at Invesco and flew to Houston from Toronto so that she could be at the service. "Mary loved pricing and valuation. Her eyes would light up if one wanted to debate with her the merit of one valuation methodology versus another. She taught me everything I know about pricing," said Annie. "She was the rock during the tumultuous years of the financial crisis, guiding the team in uncharted valuation water and fearless in taking a stance and always doing the right thing. We will miss her guidance and her wisdom. Most of all, we will miss her friendship. Let’s honour her memory by remembering the difference she made in our lives, her passion for mentoring, the wisdom she shared with us and all the little things that made her special."
Ann Srubar shared a story about Mary's committment to mentorship from 2018 when she spoke to students at Mays Business School at her beloved A&M University. Mary also loved being an Aggie and was passionate about Aggie sports, attending many of the football games. "Whenever we’d get together," said Ann, "the first two things we’d usually discuss were the state of the Aggie football program (and of course with our in depth knowledge, agree on what wasn’t working and expound on what they should be doing) and travel plans. Mary loved to travel and frequently would give me ideas of places to go (or not to go) and share her research. She was smart, funny, thoughtful and generous with her time." said Ann.
Sharon Lester worked with Mary during the 14 years she was at Invesco. "Mary was very knowledgeable and passionate about her work," remembers Sharon. "She was always willing to help others and lend support wherever needed. Outside of work, Mary loved to travel the world and I always loved to hear her stories. A small world story is that after many years, Mary figured out that my step daughter Wendy lived across the street from her niece Georgia. Mary loved Georgia’s children and would often tell stories about them. Mary was taken from us way too early and will be missed by many," said Sharon.
I will always remember Mary’s smile and the sound of her laughter - she’ll be sadly missed.
Mary was also Joan Kennedy's fellow sports fan/nut. Joan said that Mary exercised her analytical skills outside work and was consequently generally successful at fantasy football. "We had a ball at Houston Texan football games, but probably had more fun when talking about sports," said Joan. "Back when A&M was in the Big 12, we argued about Mary’s comment that the Big 12 was much better, and, of course, I was arguing for the Big 10. As we went on and on, she must have said something more specific, and that’s when we realized she was talking football and I was talking basketball (yes, things have changed since then). We laughed and laughed because we then knew that each other was right about the sport we were talking about and couldn’t quite believe that we misunderstood each other. Hey, it happens."
"Mary was intelligent and professional but so much more," shared Joan. "She was funny, loved to laugh and tease, and very caring. She was an enthusiastic traveller, film buff, foodie, sports fan, and more. Then there was that mind - so analytic and so strong. Mary’s exceptional memory often surprised even though we had often experienced how strong they both were. She also loved her family and friends and showed that love. Her hands were so expressive and often accented her conversations. I could go on and on."
Janet (Willis) Luby first met Mary when she joined the Fund Accounting department in the late 1980’s. “I reported to her and what I remember about that time is how smart, professional and brilliant she was from an analytical and professional standpoint. She was able to impart her knowledge and experience in such an effective way as well because she was just such a great person—she was warm and welcoming and always had an open door or helpful suggestion.”
I would use the phrase “quiet confidence” to describe Mary’s professional demeanor even in times of stress (can anyone recall diving to get the NAV into the machine on time?). When the phrase “Mary Benson said…” or “..according to Mary”, was uttered, it really meant something and people took notice or took it to the bank or both," said Janet.
Mary's career was successfulbecause of her intellect and talent, but also because of her "EQ-Emotional Quotient" that challenged, supported, mentored and brought out the best in others.
Janet (Willis) Luby
"Mary's sense of humor was amazing as well; Mary was just funny. To Joan’s point, I am not entirely sure she could have uttered a syllable if you told her she couldn’t use her hands! She was so animated when telling a story or relaying something funny and often she’d just have tears coming out, she was so tickled. Or, when you least expected it she’d deliver the world’s funniest take on the most mundane thing with her dry delivery and send you to the floor with that," said Janet.
Mary’s memory was also amazing and I often joked that she could remember more about my life than I could. That is because she truly listened and she truly cared. She was always the glue, the organizer, the one to suggest this restaurant or that movie or event—that is such a gift to others and it kept us all close over the years.
She loved her family, her friends and colleagues, her fur babies, sports, travel, food, and…laughing. Mary’s friendship has been such a blessing in my life and that of others. I will miss her so much but will carry her generous and beautiful spirit with me always.
Survivors include sister, Colleen Shelton and Ross Vannorstrand, of Winnie; brother, Michael Benson and his wife, Debbie, of Bulverde; nieces, Georgia Matthews and her husband, Sean, of Spring and April Benson, of Winnie; nephews, Steven Shelton, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Tyler Benson, of Spring, and Chase Benson and Jordan Benson, both of Winnie; grand-nieces, Kamryn, Zoey, Ava, and Micah Matthews, all of Spring; and Laila Hopkins, of Winnie; her beloved fur babies, Harper and Willow; and many lifelong, loving friends.
Mary would be very touched to know how many AIM alums are missing her. AIM was not only a place where we were doing important work for our shareholders, but we were also building important relationships in our lives.
Mary at the Kirby Ice House in 2017 with Sidney Dilgren and Gene Needles.