For those unfortunate readers familiar with my writing, you know that, as a rule, I don't get sentimental in this space -- save for a somber column on the passing of my father-in-law in 2002 and his patient attempts to coach his all-thumbs son-in-law on home improvement projects.

At that time, the point I was trying to -- and hopefully did -- make was that mentors come in all shapes, sizes, and, as I eventually have learned, backgrounds.

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