Just a few months ago, Brian and I were sitting in a boathouse restaurant in the harbor of Suva, Fiji having an amazing dinner and a hilarious conversion with our friends Reuben and Diana Summerlin. Being his witty, charismatic, and wholeheartedly genuine self, Reuben was telling stories that had me laughing so hard I was in tears and, at one point, literally falling out of my chair. It was one of those times where you’re fully aware of the fact you’re making a lifelong memory in the very moment it’s happening. I thought to myself, “This is what friendship is about. This. Right here, right now. Laughing hysterically while Reuben Summerlin jokes about his interest in non-homosapien homonids.” On this night, like all the other times we spent with him during our month in his family’s home, being around Reuben meant we were thoroughly enjoying life.
Two days ago during his journey to bike around Fiji’s big island of Viti Levu, our dear friend Reuben was struck by a van and killed. A driver’s impatience in passing a slow-moving truck took the life of this amazing man. That split-second decision stole a wonderful husband from his wife, a dedicated father from his children, a committed professional from the fight to end poverty and an amazing friend from everyone lucky enough to be a part of his life.
Our family, along with thousands of others around the globe, mourn the loss of this brilliant, thoughtful and gregarious man. To know Reuben was truly to love him. He was a storyteller and also a careful listener. He could command a room, yet make everyone in it feel important and appreciated. He was committed and passionate, while also being fun and carefree. Reuben was one of a kind and will be remembered always by everyone who had the privilege to know him.
Reuben spent his career advocating for others. By working to give the poor access to financial tools, he helped them reach more stable and productive lives. His intelligence and charisma made him an incredible force in ending the cycle of poverty. One of the hardest parts of losing him is the knowledge that he had wanted to do so many more good things for this world.
As we mourn him, we can all look for ways to continue Reuben’s legacy of service and friendship. It’s the best way we can honor his life and give some amount of meaning to his untimely and senseless death. In his memory, we will find our own small ways to replace the good work he can no longer do. We will strive to live by his example and give those less fortunate than ourselves a hand up to a better life. In our relationships with friends and loved ones we can bring the same compassion, attentiveness, and laughter that Reuben gave us. Losing Reuben has made us realize how important our present moment is and why we need to do everything we can to make the most of it for our loved ones and our fellow man.
You will never be forgotten, Reuben Summerlin. Your giving spirit, selfless commitment, Sad Country Fridays and even your interest in non-homosapien homonids will live on through the lives of those you touched. Rest in peace, dear friend. Rest in peace with the knowledge that this world is a much better place having had you in it. We just wish you’d been here much longer.
Getting ready to dive at Voli Voli resort
Shark diving off Pacific Harbour, Fiji
Drinks on a beautiful night with his beautiful wife
Reuben and Diana paddleboarding together
Fun times with our families
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.