Goodbye My Friend – Lance Washington (1967-2016)


Lance Washington 1967-2016

I met my best friend, Lance Washington, while we were working at QVC shopping channel almost thirty years ago.  We worked the overnight shift, answering telephones and taking orders.  I had relocated to Pennsylvania from Tennessee, and kept to myself at work (my southern accent meant I had to repeat everything I said – people just loved listening to my accent – so I stayed pretty quiet).  I typically sat alone, read books during my shift, ate lunch alone, took breaks alone.

One night, I heard some boisterous laughter from the row behind me.  There was Lance, standing and laughing with everyone around him.  He towered over everyone.  There was a group of people around him, literally waiting to hear what he would say next.

I wondered to myself, “Who is this guy, and why is he so popular?”

I didn’t know at the time that he was wondering about me, “Who is this guy, and why is he always in a shell by himself?”

Eventually, Lance introduced himself to me, and we discovered we had a shared passion – we both loved movies.  We quickly became friends, and we often went to the movies together, usually at least once a week.  We did have our differences, though.  Lance was a Star Trek person – I’m Star Wars all the way.

A few years later, I relocated back to Tennessee, and we lost touch.  I often wondered how Lance was doing, and where he was, but almost twenty years had passed.  I wondered if he ever thought about me.

Then one night I got a comment on my blog.  A simple, one-line comment: “Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” (The original Batman movie in 1989 was one of my favorites.)  I knew immediately it was Lance.  After twenty years, he had found me, and our friendship was reborn.

He met my son Nicholas – now an adult.  Lance had not seen Nick since Nick was a baby, yet took him in like he was family. Nick has called him Uncle Lance ever since.

This past July, Lance was spending a week in Gatlinburg, TN, and invited us to come out and spend some time with him.  Nicholas went, and I took my youngest son Jonathan and his friend Kason.  Jonathan and Kason were instantly taken with Lance, and started calling him “Uncle Lance” immediately.

We spent a few days in Gatlinburg, and though he had several health issues Lance spent a day with us walking through Gatlinburg, going to museums and posing for an old-time photo.  It was a great day.  On the last day together, we had pancakes at one of the pancake restaurants in Pigeon Forge, then said our goodbyes (and started planning a trip for next year).

Unfortunately, Lance won’t be there in person next year.  He passed away last Friday (September 16, 2016) at the age of 48.

In this day of Facebook and other social media, it seems everyone has thousands of friends.  But there’s usually just a very special one or two people in our lives we consider to be our closest, truest friends.  The kind of friends you can count on one hand.  The stars of your own personal movie.  

Lance was, for me, that one true friend.

I’m the kind of person who remembers “events” – I remember going places, who went with me, but the details of the events usually leave my memory over time.

Lance remembered “moments” – he recalled details of events we shared almost thirty years ago to my boys, all the way down to the weather of the day.  He had an incredible memory, and as he told the stories of our times together – complete with his infectious laugh – I could see those times were as important to him as they were to me.

There are some people you meet in life and you know your life is better simply because they were a part of it.  The world seems dimmer today, as it has truly lost a shining light.

Goodbye my friend.  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. Thank you for being such an important part of my life. I will miss you and love you for the rest of my days.  Rest in peace.

Kevin, Lance, Kason, Jonathan

  • Doug Hennig

    Sorry for your loss, Kevin. We missed you at SWFox. Hopefully next year.

    • Kevin Ragsdale

      Thank you Doug! I missed seeing everyone this year. Hopefully next year.

  • Anthony LoConte

    This is a good picture. My name is Anthony. I met Lance in 2003 when he was working part time in the pool hall here in PA. We too hit it off and he became my best friend (essentially an older brother). He tried to get me to go on that Tennessee trip a few times. Regrettably , I never had the time off or the money to go on the trip (budgeting was never my forte). When i got the call from his sister that he had passed, it shocked me. The night before his service I wrote a few things down that i would say at his service. It was hard to get through but i somehow managed. The star trek quote above, has been and always will be, one of his favorites. when i ended my little speech i used the line from the end of that movie that couldn’t be more true for my departed brother… “Of my friend i can only say this… of all of the souls i have encountered in my travels… his was the most human”. Though it was hard for us to meet up with his work schedule and my daily schedule, i’m going to miss my friend immensely. I felt at times that he was the only one who truly understood me. He was one of very few people that i’d trust with my life. I will send this link to his family so they may see your page.

    • Kevin Ragsdale

      Hi Anthony,

      Thank you for sharing! Lance was a great friend – he will be missed by many, he touched a lot of lives.