Verbatim Column

If you could have lunch with one person (alive or dead), who would it be?

Of all the questions this year, this seems to have been the one that was harder for most responders. When you read some of the answers, you may be inspired to think of what your own answer would be. Many people like the idea of inviting someone no longer living to join them in a good sit down over a meal. Their answers range from the historical to the very personal. Enjoy their answers while you conjure up yours.

The VERBATIM column asks provocative questions of our industry colleagues. Taken from a familiar “Heard on the Street” format, we offer our responders a chance to reply via e-mail allowing them to be thoughtful and direct. What is offered below are their personal opinions.




Chaz Clark. My son, who should be 6 years old. There is no one I’d rather sit across the table from, smile and laugh with.

Lauren Clark

Bergquist, Inc.

Toledo, Ohio


When I used to get my news from a newspaper, I would always turn to the business section first.  Business is my passion and if I could have lunch with anyone, it would be Andrew Carnegie.  He immigrated to the US with his parents and worked menial jobs before rising to prominence.  His philosophies on business and life, remain true over a hundred years after his death.  During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away $350 million ($65 billion in today’s dollars), to charities, foundations, and universities, almost 90 percent of his fortune.

My favorite story is when at the turn of the century the press cornered him about the news that he paid Charles Schwab, president of Carnegie Steel, a bonus of $1 Million.  They asked Carnegie how he could possibly justify paying one man a bonus of $1 Million.  Carnegie told them it was easy, he’s worth $2 Million.

I would love to have lunch with Carnegie to get his advice on business and philanthropy.

Steven Abbate

Cetane Associates

Kent, Connecticut


I would like to have lunch with Abraham Lincoln.  I believe he did a great job as a wartime leader and I would like to have his firsthand thoughts on how to guide the post civil war United States. Specifically what he thought about reconstruction, the economy and foreign relations.

Dan Binning

Colorado and New Mexico Propane Gas Associations

Arvada, Colorado


Dan Gurley.  He was my mentor and friend.  He was taken too soon.

Jennifer McKeen

Georgia Propane Gas Association

Marietta, Georgia


I would choose to have lunch with a famous chef, perhaps Anthony Bourdain, also a renowned world traveler and whose TV programs I’ve enjoyed.  Of course, Mr. Bourdain would choose the menu and prepare it. My contribution would be a fine bottle of wine and probing conversation.

Bruce Swiecicki

NPGA (National Propane Gas Association)

Tinley Park, Illinois


George Washington – I am fascinated with the history of how the USA was formed.  I think GW would have insight on many different facets of the US evolution from his involvement in the various wars to his experience as our first President.

Mike Hopsicker

Ray Murray Inc.

Lee, Massachusetts


Mike Rowe.

His passion for work ethic, trade jobs and helping others is inspiring. I would like to talk to him further on motivating people in their roles. I would enjoy discussing with him in more detail and learn more about his Mike Rowe Foundation that provides scholarships to people in trades.

Ed Varney

Rego Products

McKinney, Texas


I would have lunch with my Grandfather. He passed in 2002 when I was 26 years old. I would love to hear him tell me another story about his life. I would also ask him to share another pearl of wisdom with me of which he had so many.

Jason Soulon

Westmor Industries

Shawnee, Kansas



I would like to meet and have lunch with Benjamin Franklin. He would be a very interesting person to talk to. He seems like a great motivator.

Brad Duncan

Allaround Propane, Inc.

Fruitland, New Mexico


I would like to sit down with Grace Killelea, who wrote the book “The Confidence Effect.” I was able to meet her in person when she spoke at a company event and I was immediately drawn to her attitude, desire, humor and wit. I remember vividly the statement she made during her speech that immediately resonated with me. Three simple words:  Let perfection go. Grace Killelea’s mission is to bring awareness around change that has to take place within the workforce when it comes to adding more women’s voices in leadership. We as women must show up, speak out, take risks and fill leadership positions while having the confidence that we can meet these challenges with excellence!

Hayley Karicofe


Churchville, Virginia


Lunch with Ben Franklin would be interesting in that he was a brilliant inventor and one of our founding fathers. His involvement in the constitution and Bill of Rights provided a strong foundation for our country’s success. His ability to be a gifted politician and a talented inventor is a unique combination. His work with the Franklin stove and the light bulb would be good conversation in today’s environment, he is remembered for many wise witty quotes, besides since he is on the 100 dollar bill, he may buy lunch.

Gary France

France Propane Service

Schofield, Wisconsin


I would have lunch with my father, Bob Irish who is deceased and ask him what he would have done in this pandemic.

Laurie Irish-Jones

Irish Propane

Buffalo, New York


There are so many people that come to my mind immediately.  However, my overwhelming choice would have to be our daughter, Rachel, who passed away suddenly at the age of 15 months back in 1985.  She was a beautiful little girl who touched so many people in her short life.  She had a lot of spunk and a fantastic personality that was evident at a young age.  I myself have learned so much from her in the years since she died about the importance of faith, family and friends.  Her spirit will always be in my heart. And, even though we may not be able to have a conversation, nothing would really need to be said.  Just to have the chance to hold her for a little while would be awesome!

Rosie Buschur

McMahan’s Bottle Gas

Dayton, Ohio


Lunch with anyone, past or present?? I guess the real question is along with satiating the appetite what else do I want to feed? The body would go for a nice cheeseburger, the mind would pick Maya Angelo for her profound wisdom, the spirit would like to sit with the Reverend Billy Graham for obvious reasons. Still, at the end of the day–I would have to choose to feed my Heart and go with my late Husband Jimmy T. To hear one last “I love you” and hopefully, you’re doing a good job with Proctor Gas Inc. That would bring peace and joy to body, mind and spirit.

Judy Taranovich

Proctor Gas

Proctor, Vermont


I would love to have a conversation with the “father of the LP-gas industry” Dr. Walter O. Snelling, PhD.  From what I have read about him, he was a very wise man, innovative and challenged the norm.  I would love to learn from somebody like him. Additionally, I would like to express my gratitude for his processing inventions that lead to my family’s ability to start and grow a business from a nonentity to what it is today. When I look past our company to the world, propane has only benefits for our lifestyles, health and our planet.

Julie Johnson

Ted Johnson Propane

Baldwin Park, California





Fifteen brave souls have shared here their versions of what it would mean to spend a couple hours over lunch with anyone of their choice – for reasons that delight them and make interesting reading for us. I am grateful for their participation.



Nancy Coop, Cetane Associates

This column was first published in the July 2020 issue of Butane-Propane News.

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