A good man is hard to lose

Here’s a post I put up in 2003:

A pain in the friend

Gil Templeton:
I haven’t seen my old friend Gil Templeton since his brother David’s wedding, whenever that was. Ten years ago? Twelve? Both Gil and David worked for me — Gil as a copywriter in North Carolina and David as a PR account executive in California. Both guys were as different as two primary colors, with a few significant exceptions, especially in the humor department. Both were very funny guys. I remember how Gil (who went on to write piles of sketch comedy … and act in some too) and I co-wrote a country music song, or part of one, anyway, when we should have been working late one night. Most of it was Gil’s. All I remember is the refrain:
I’m too old to fuck
and too young to die
but not too drunk to eat
So bring my baby some likker
and burn me up some meat
David used to crack everybody up with a perfect imitation of… (gulp) me. Before then I never had any idea that I was imitable, or that I had a walk others called a “waddle.”
The Templeton Brothers were terrific company. I loved them both. Still do. However, as too often happens, geography gets in the way, and life goes on with less and less contact, until…
A few minutes ago I got a email from David, who’s now in Connecticut, pointing to a cover story by Gil in the Nashville Scene, the arts weekly in the Music City, where Gil moved after he left North Carolina in the early 80s. It’s The Pain Chronicles: One man’s life-changing, body-aching, drug-addictive struggles with a devastating injury — a shorter version of Gil’s forthcoming book by the same title, from Coldtreepress. It’s a harrowing tale, and told, as always, with sharp humor.
I had no idea. Seeing the picture above brought tears to my eyes. There’s My Man, with a cane. Same glasses. Same hair. Same strong chin. Same wise-ass smile. I had forgotten how much I miss him.
We’re so lucky, most of us. Life is a death sentence, but most of our time on death row is a cakewalk. The journey is the reward, right? Except for those of us whose ships are caught on the rocks.
Right now I’m feeling lucky to have these two good brothers as friends. Even after all these years apart.

Last night I got an email from David reporting that Gil died in his sleep that morning. He was just 53.

Among our favorite comedy bits was one — I think it was from National Lampoon’s Lemmings show — in which a stoner musician mumbles a tribute to “the late Neil Young,” who once played with “Crosby Ogden Nash,” and who was “a credit to both rock and roll.” There was another line in there, where the stoner says, “We used to eat beans and hitch to gigs…” When he’d see me, or call on the phone, Gill would yell “BEANS!” just to recall the bit. After awhile, “Beans” became what we’d call each other.

In creative sessions at our agency, we used to spend hours in the “Think Tank” coming up with ideas. None of those ideas today is as memorable as what Gil once said to sum up a long filibuster by another guy in Creative: “So what you’re saying is, ‘The client sucks and the product cannot be sold.’” It cracked everybody up, and the ideas began flowing like a river.

I guess you had to be there. I’m glad I was.

Bonus links:

[Later...] Here’s Gil’s obituary.

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9 comments

  1. David Templeton’s avatar

    Thank you Doc. Great commentary – as always. Love you maaan!

  2. Pat McGee’s avatar

    Just heard the news and just discovered this blog when I went searching for any details on Gil’s passing. I’m crushed. Shattered. I haven’t seen Gil for years and then only occasionally since I left Carden & Cherry where Gil and I slugged it out on many ad accounts laughing through the pain all the way. He was my best friend there and the yuks we had are absolutely incalculable. We were co-conspirators in many, as he might have said, “wacky, zany” antics. This included the time we were in Arizona on client business at an exclusive resort and after a few rounds (not golf), we absconded with a multi-golf cart shuttle train used to ferry guests to and from the golf course. We ran it until the battery ran out and we abandoned it far out on the golf course. When we returned to the hotel lobby, we were greeted with hotel security which caused us to run like dogs only to be apprehended in short order. Many a laugh we had over that one. He was an American original. I’ll sadly miss his spirit, his love of life, and his courage.

    My condolences to his brother and the rest of his family.

    Patrick McGee
    Nashville, TN

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, Pat.

    I don’t know what the funeral plans are, and I’ve been watching The Tennesseean for an obituary, but meanwhile I hope you and other buds of Gil’s from the Carden & Cherry days, and from the Jim Varney crew (Gil was the “Dust Bunny” on the Varney show), come by.

  4. David Templeton’s avatar

    Pat and Doc….obit to run Monday. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m.West End United Methodist Church on Wednesday January 12 with visitation to follow in Reed Hall . Instead of flowers, acknowledgements are requested to West End Methodist Church and Cumberland Heights.

  5. Mike Richardson’s avatar

    I am so saddened to hear this news of my pal Gil’s passing. A dear friend for many years from college though sadly too much of it was via telephone.

    A quick story from the memory book.

    While in college, Gil had come back from Christmas break one year with a new CB radio – a gift that he had received. New to the whole CB radio deal (along with all of the lingo), Gil had predictably been honing this new craft on his drive from Nashville to Chapel Hill. So… upon his arrival at Ehringhaus dorm, off we went, riding around chatting it up with the truckers and anyone else willing to engage two novices.

    Apparently a good way to compliment other CBers is to comment on how strongly you are receiving the other party’s radio transmission. Gil and “Ramblin’ Man” had been yukking it up chatting back and forth for a few minutes when it was obviously time for Ramblin’ Man to move on.

    The closing kinda went like this.

    Gil: “Hey there good buddy, it’s been great talkin’ with ya.”

    Trucker: “Well backatcha there good buddy. You’re comin’ insa clear that your peggin’ my meter.”

    Gil: “Well good buddy, you’re comin’ in so clear that I had to roll down my windows to keep ‘em from shatterin’.”

    This went on back and forth for a couple of minutes with each determined to one-up the other thus winning the impromptu compliment contest.

    Then it really fell apart for Gil…

    Trucker: “I hear ya good buddy, you’re comin’ in so clear that I can practically see your face. Some fine equipment you must have there good buddy.”

    Now in practical panic mode to outdo this new pal, Gil responds with possibly the funniest thing that I have ever heard.

    Gil: “Well good buddy, you’re comin’ insa clear that…” (Gil at a momentary loss for how to win this thing)… “ummm, you’re comin’ insa clear that, ummm, I don’t know whether or not to… umm… pull down my pants…”

    I have by this point about peed in my pants from laughing and Gil gives me that patented look, shakes his head and says to me, “What the hell did I just say?” I simply could not stop laughing but heard the trucker click back on the line.

    Trucker: (long long pause) “Well good buddy… you definitely got it. Have a good ‘un. Ramblin’ Man out.”

    Classic Gil. Loved that guy.

    Farewell my friend. I love you like a brother. Condolences to the family. This is a very sad day.

    Mike Richardson

  6. Lee Anne Wills’s avatar

    To the Templeton Family, I had the treasured opportunity to be with Gil as we both grew up in high school. He forever altered my view of life and made everything funnier and not as serious as my family always thought things should be. I laughed all the time with him and will always remember and love him. I wish I had the chance to tell him.

    Lee Anne Wills

  7. Mike Pigott’s avatar

    Doc: You summed him up very well. So did Pat. Gil was such a good guy. He somehow managed to smile through all sorts of pain.
    I don’t think I will ever walk into Brown’s Diner or Daltz again without visualizing him sitting there holding court. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Mike

  8. Renee Merritt’s avatar

    Gil’s sense of humor went a very long way in securing my advertising career at Carden & Cherry. For whatever reason, whether courting future business or dealing with current clients, Gil and I were usually teamed up and sent to the Lions on some of the more “difficult” assignments. Without fail Gil kept the clients laughing….they might not have even liked what we were selling but they were laughing!

    Godspeed Gil….keep ‘em laughing!

    Renee

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