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4 Things You Get to Enjoy when You’re Successful

Gene Gastanaga Eric Chaump Harrah's Steakhouse DiinerI had the honor of getting to know an extremely smart and successful business person over the last 4-5 years.  His name was Gene Gastanaga and he was my Fiance’s great grandfather.  He was a Basque immigrant that not only lived through the Great Depression, but prospered.  Later in his life, he owned and managed a number of Eagle Thrifty stores, which were the first of its kind in Reno and surrounding areas.  He later sold the chain to Tom Raley, who renamed the stores, Raley’s.  He was also part owner in the Ponderosa and Onslow casino in Reno, NV, and the Tahoe Biltmore and Crystal Bay Club in Crystal Bay, NV.

Unfortunately, Gene recently passed away at the age of 95 years young.  His obituary explicitly states what kind of business man he was.  “In his business career he was a smart, energetic and tough businessman, always open to suggestions yet dedicated to finding the best solutions and solving the most complex problems.”

I attended his small family burial, because he absolutely did not want a full-blown funeral, and as I listened to his family talk about him, I realized he shaped his entire family’s lives in such an influential way.  I wasn’t planning on saying anything that day, but my Fiance’s dad asked if I wanted to say something and for some reason, I just couldn’t say no.  I got up to the podium and shared 4 things that this family enjoyed and they enjoyed it because of Gene:

1. Great Food

Gene valued great food and it didn’t matter what the price tag was.  I had the opportunity to dine at some extraordinary restaurants and eat some extraordinary foods because of him.

2. Scotch

Scotch is one of those things you have to develop a taste for.  Nobody takes their first sip of Scotch and says, “Man, that’s good.”  I’ve learned from this family that Scotch is not just an alcoholic beverage.  It’s a symbol of hard work and success, and carries a sense of prestige.

3. Vacations

There’s a reason why Gene and his family enjoyed vacations and that’s because it brought the family together.  Not only was it an opportunity to get away from the real world, but it was an opportunity to spend quality time with family.  It may be one of the underlying reasons why he purchased a plot of land right on the water at Lake Tahoe and then custom built a house that would accommodate his growing family.

4. Picking up the Tab

There’s something so satisfying about saying “I’ll get that” when the bill comes to the dinner table, isn’t there?  Gene was one of those guys that would take the family out to dinner or on vacation, just so he could get the family together.  It didn’t matter what the price tag was, as long as everyone was having a good time.

I finished my speech that day with the following statement.  “From listening to everyone speak about Gene, I’ve learned that it was him that passed down these traditions to each one of you and it’s my hope that I get the opportunity to pass them on to my own children someday.”

Who are (or were) some of the influential people in your lives?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Webpage Credit:
Eugene Thomas “Gene” Gastanaga


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