In 2017, Rob accepted a position with Eventide Asset Management, a values based investing company in Boston, Massachusetts. Rob had profiled Eventide in 2014 while on the faith and business beat for Christianity Today, and Eventide’s philosophy of “investing that makes the world rejoice” captured his attention. In every work environment, in our home and church life, Rob enjoyed attending to the needs of those around him. He loved to bring people together, and he felt deep satisfaction when the whole group was thriving. Rob was excited to join the Eventide team and work with them in service of the common good.
Our family was deeply rooted in Washington state, and the company graciously allowed Rob to work from home and commute regularly to the East Coast for meetings. Since we homeschooled, this meant that all six of us spent every day at home together when Rob wasn’t traveling. For the last three years of Rob’s life, our family enjoyed the treasure of this unique intimacy.
Rob’s work from home days meant a million casual opportunities for family time. Each morning, Rob woke early to meet the stock market’s opening bell on the East Coast. The kids would sit around the kitchen table sleepily eating breakfast when he came down to brew his second pot of coffee for the day. Rob would hoist our youngest onto the counter and let her pour the water into the coffeemaker, a responsibility she held with pride.
When lunchtime rolled around, “Shhhh… Dad’s on a call!” alerted rambunctious boys to burn off energy outside after a morning of focused schoolwork. And at the day’s close, Rob would open his office door and holler, “I’m off the phone!” The kids would come running in for a wrestle or hug. A “floor bed” on Rob’s office floor was each sick child’s special privilege. The sick one would lie quietly right beside Rob’s desk, mending and reading books away from the bustle of the rest of the household.
The house feels very quiet these days without Rob working here. We transformed his old office off the kitchen into a music room where our boys can hold jam sessions and hang out. Rob’s office decor still hangs on the walls — pictures of him hiking with the kids, wall art of his corporate office along the Boston Harbor. The kids still jockey for who gets to drink out of the hip company travel mug, but nobody hops up on the counter to make the coffee in the mornings. The boys miss their lunch break P90X sessions with Rob in the attic room, the wrestling matches that signified the workday was over.
A few months ago, I met up with Rob’s old boss and his wife for lunch. After we ate, his boss ran to the car to bring me Rob’s suit jacket. Rob had left it in the office before we departed on our vacation, and it had hung there ever since. A quiet testimony to a friend and colleague lost. I remembered it at once; we’d bought it together right before Rob began working there.
As I looked down at the jacket on the way home, folded on the car seat beside me, my eyes filled with tears. It almost felt like Rob was there. There was something deeply significant about the way his colleagues had saved that jacket for me.
Pundits and scholars and analysts have a million metrics for assessing the value of a company. They look at income statements and balance sheets, earnings forecasts and market competition. However, as I reflect on that suit jacket and on the years our family was blessed by Rob’s company, I believe there’s something deeper to consider when you look at investing in a company — the way they care for their people. The last three years of Rob’s life, three years of work-from-home school-at-home life, came to us as a gift from a company who loved their employees well. From an organization who sought to see beyond profits to people.
Working at home wasn’t always easy for Rob. I know we were distracting at times, and there are unique challenges to working far from your colleagues. But as I look back, all of those ordinary, everyday moments are priceless now. Eventide gave Rob a job, but they also gave us a treasure of family time in the last three years we’d ever enjoy together. They fulfilled their mission well. Eventide’s generous investment in our family life made our little world of six rejoice.