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I did not really know Steve Madden, but …
His passing has bore a space in my thoughts and I’m not exactly sure why.
Part of me believes it’s because of my odd connection to his wife, Carrie.
I first met Carrie DiMuzio two decades ago, which says something since we’re both in our mid-thirties. I was a page for, who else, Charlie Crist, in the Florida Senate. This meant a week away in mythical Tallahassee, which loomed so large to this high school senior eager to become a Seminole.
Carrie was also a page that week. Quite honestly, I had never met anyone like Carrie before then. She was so sophisticated for her age. So much cooler than me. She was actually too cool for me and decided to befriend my classmate Estella more so than me during this sojourn into Florida politics.
I remember each day of those five in Tallahassee, Carrie, just another high school student like myself and Estella, knew exactly where all the good parties were, where everyone was going after work, etc. She was 16 or 17 and connected!
I thought I was cool by just making it to Tallahassee, to be within earshot of Florida State (these were the Charlie Ward days after all — EVERYONE wanted to go FSU). Carrie showed me what it meant to be cool.
I mostly forgot about Carrie DiMuzio until last year when I was running my “TallyMadness” competition to determine who is the “best” lobbyist in Florida. In a very touching show of support, Steve Madden was voted the winner. Reading about Steve, who I had only met in passing, I learned that he was married to Carrie.
I immediately thought, man, this guy must be big time if he’s married to her.
Turns out I was exactly correct.
I don’t know Steve Madden, but I’ve come to understand what he stands for, or at least part of what he stands for. He represents that untouched, but threatened, part of “this thing of ours” or however you want to describe politics and consulting and lobbying.
The untouched aspect that allows most of us, at our finest hours, to put aside the adversarial back-and-forth to be our better angels.
Don’t believe in these better angels? Go read Steve’s Facebook page. Read about the many, many lives he impacted for the better. Than ask yourself, if you died today, would people be saying the same about you.
I don’t know Steve Madden, but his death is having a profound, albeit contained, impact on me. His death is the first of someone I knew since the birth of my daughter, Ella. Steve Madden, to me, is like the headline on the newspaper printed on the day of Ella’s birth.
He’s a reminder, an inspiration, a touchstone.
I wish I had known you better, Steve.