Submitted by Ratan
I had opportunity to work with him only for six months. When I started in this Division, I met a group of the most wonderful people. Everyone was very supportive, friendly and helpful. I was thoroughly enjoying my work.Suddenly, we heard about the buy out/ early out program, offering retirement to those eligible, by January 31, 2004. What a change it brought! A large percentage of my co-workers, some of the most experienced people, decided to retire. When I came to work, on February 2, 2004, the office looked so desolate and empty, almost abandoned. A few days later our office heard another piece of bad news. Our Division Director was going on detail for six months to main office. Change is often good but can also be stressful. We are happy for our director, but sad to lose him for six months. Our office was used to functioning under this extremely brilliant and gifted individual. We didn’t know what was going on.
My own experience with him was most positive and unique. He is a very versatile, intelligent and caring person. Along with having Masters degrees in Economics and Statistics, he is also familiar with fifteen languages. A rare accomplishment indeed! Additionally, no matter on which topic I conversed with him, he showed in-depth knowledge of the subject. I have a Masters degree in music from India, and am a professionally trained vocalist. One day when I was passing by his door, I heard instrumental Indian classical music. I stopped and said “are you enjoying the music?” He said, “yes, this is very soothing.” He then told me that he is familiar with Indian music, and knows Raga Bhimpalasi and MaruVihag, (Indian ragas are melodies with specific note structures, designed to be sung or played during different times of the day.) Another day I was talking to him about Indian food, he surprised me with his knowledge of Indian recipes.
The thing which touched my heart the most was when he told me the reason why he and his wife had been vegetarian for decades. He said, that when both of them moved from Minnesota to the Washington DC area, they found a big gap between the rich and poor. Either people were very rich or very poor. Therefore, they decided to become vegetarians and used the savings from not buying meat, as donations to the poor. I realized then, that along with being a brilliant statistician, he was also a very good human being, with deep concerns for the well being of all mankind. I felt very fortunate in knowing him.
The purpose of my writing is to share my enrichment in meeting such a decent and large hearted human being. I often wonder how many other similar people are there within our organization, and when I will have the opportunity to meet them. I got the chance to work with this person for only seven months, and he definitely enhanced my self esteem. I am quite amazed at the enormous impact he had in such a short period of time. He encouraged me to utilize my full potential, offered me unique opportunities to demonstrate my knowledge, expertise and skills, genuinely appreciated my efforts and gave me due recognition. I enthusiastically look forward to coming to work everyday! The fairness with which he treated all his staff members and his goodness as a human being is acknowledged by all staff members within our Division, and his absence equally felt by all.
While we are anxious about the future of our Division, and do not know what other changes will come, we wish him all the success at Main Office, and hope that he builds a top name and career for himself. However, we also look forward to the day when he will come back to this office, and we will be able to work with him again. At this point, I feel very privileged to tell you the name of this person,
it is Stephen M. Vajs.
I went to Hawaii last year in August 2007 and remembering him. He is always in my mind just like beautiful beaches of Maui in Hawaii.
God bless you Steve, and may God bless us too.