June 15, 2019
Tony DiGiovanniI just came back from a funeral home. Landscape Ontario member, David Gaze passed away suddenly and I was privileged to attend his Celebration of Life. It was a touching event. I loved listening to heart-felt stories of his life as told by family, friends and employees.

One of the best parts of working at Landscape Ontario is the community and family feel of our organization. Just as families want the best for each member, so too do our members. We are here to celebrate, support, help, inspire and encourage each other. We are also here through the difficult and painful times.

I have been personally touched and enriched by attending many funerals and celebration of life for members who have passed on. Inevitably, the memorial photographs and mementos will highlight pictures of the work they performed for clients. Sometimes their LO plaque or Awards of Excellence plaque will be on display. Their contributions to their profession and their organization is very meaningful. In some respects, LO is like a church or synagogue. Collectively, members are part of something bigger than themselves. Collectively, we are community-builders striving to be better and to leave a better profession and a better community.

Kathleen Pugliese, my executive assistant for the past 25 years, recently announced her retirement. Although I was expecting the news, I still teared up a little when the email arrived. Kathleen is my right hand, my organizer and my confidant. There is a feeling of sadness and loss, but also of celebration and good will. After a lifetime of hard work and immense contributions she deserves a well-earned break. Many of you have had contact with Kathleen over the years. She has touched many members with her helpful attitude, cheerful disposition, mischievous sense of humour and her sometimes direct, but always helpful advice.

In an email to notify our staff and board, I wrote the following:

“I received Kathleen’s official retirement letter a few minutes ago. It feels a little surreal.

Kathleen has been awesome and amazing! She has served the Landscape Ontario community with intelligence, loyalty, good will and humour. She has been the ultimate “multi-tasker.” She has made Landscape Ontario look good. She has made me look good.

At the end of the day, I believe success is measured by the relationships you build, the positive contributions you make and the legacy you leave. Kathleen has been hugely-successful. She has served the association well.

She will be greatly missed.

Please join me in thanking Kathleen for her immense contributions.”

The comments from the staff and board were touching, authentic and sincere. Here are just a few:

“Congratulations Kathleen. You are so integral to the success of LO you will be missed. You are both the “right” and “left” arm for everyone. Your positive and can-do attitude was something I really admired. I hope the new offices are ready in time for you can go out in style.”
Warren Patterson

“Wow, how do you say goodbye to your mom, your aunt, your advisor, your sitter and your dear friend and the organizer of everyone all at once? The association has been the benefactor of all the these people within one amazing person. Kathleen you will be truly missed.”
Paul Brydges

“The association has been so lucky to have Kathleen for all of these years. While you will be missed, you deserve to be able to enjoy your retirement. I hope you have many years of fun and good health. Great job.”
Steve Schell

“Kathleen, you have been the voice of reason, the keeper of trusts, the organizer of all things important and a wonderfully kind person to all of Landscape Ontario. ‘I remember when....’ There will be so many of those kinds of starts to stories over the next few months. Thanks for being part of them all. Enjoy the next adventure.”
Lindsay Drake Nightingale

“Mom, say it isn’t so.... I knew this was going to happen, but thought if we did not speak of it, we would be all good and you would forget — Kathleen you will truly be missed by many of us in the association, it has been so nice to have you as part of my life in LO for the past many years, please have a long and happy retirement”
Terry Childs

“Wow what do you say to someone who has been there every step of the way with so many of us on our journey here with Landscape Ontario? Besides thank you, thank you for listening to our rants, thanks for keeping us in line when we needed it, ensuring we never missed a meeting and following up with us whenever we needed following. I know many in our membership only see Tony at the helm of Landscape Ontario and rightly so, but when I look at all that we have accomplished as a team, I know, we all know, you have been a big part of it all, every step of the way as the “right arm” of our organization. It has been an incredible experience to participate alongside you. All the best as you embark on your next adventure, and look forward to hearing all about it when we meet next.”
Alan White

There were so many other wonderful and heartfelt comments. Kathleen has given us 25 years of her life. Thank you for all you have done to grow our Landscape Ontario family. Thank you to your real family for letting us share you.
Tony DiGiovanni
LO Executive Director