55 people to thank on this 55th birthday celebration…



  1. Mary Ann Noel (Mom): ‘Always do your best”. Now she is reinventing herself and being a great example.
  2. Jack Noel (Dad, RIP): Never said anything bad about anyone. Never heard him complain. Ever.
  3. Walt Disney (role model): Grew up watching him on TV, have worked for him the past 30+ years.
  4. Lori Noel Hoke (sister): A blessed soul and kindred spirit.
  5. Russ Smeyser (adopted Grandfather): A jolly good soul (Santa in disguise?), first person to say, “Wanna steer the car”.
  6. Brian Stambaugh (childhood best friend): We grew up together. Enough said.
  7. Jim Brown (NFL running back): Once the greatest NFL runner ever. Wanted to be like him.
  8. Cheryl Noel (best friend): Met in a job interview. The best is yet to come. Would be lost without her.
  9. Gary Warner (Jr High PE teacher): He inspired this 9th grader to go to college to be a PE Teacher.
  10. Led Zeppelin: Favorite R&R band of all time. Still.
  11. Randy Bowers (same-age cousin): He gifted Led Zeppelin IV as a Christmas present in 1971.
  12. John Smith (former 400m world record holder): He was the best in the world during the middle school years.
  13. Cort MacLean (wedding day best man): College best friend. Kindred spirit.
  14. Brian Devaney (college freshman buddies): Philadelphia city kid and the first college friend from summer orientation before freshman year.
  15. Keith Mitzel (public school class mate for 12 years): Best man for his wedding the week after we graduated HS.
  16. Edwin Moses (Olympic Gold medal 400m hurdler): Demonstrated mastery and dominance in unprecedented fashion. Legend in his own time.
  17. Steve Prefontaine (runner, Olympian: 4th in 1972 5k): Only athlete ever immortalized by Nike in bronze statue. A rebel.
  18. Abe Lincoln: Led a torn Nation to reconcile. Abolished slavery.
  19. Martin Luther King: His dream is alive and well.
  20. Bill Cosby: Good clean humor. Ridiculously funny.
  21. Richard Parks (Disney colleague): He ensured jungle jeff would become a member of a remarkable team. He also submitted nomination for Disney’s original lifetime achievement award (Partner’s In Excellence).
  22. JB Adams (Disney colleague): Heated (in a great way) discussions about what matters for the audience in the classroom.
  23. Steve Jobs: Visionary. Misfit. Kindred spirit.
  24. Ben Franklin: Renaissance man.
  25. Randy Senft (same age neighbor): Differently-abled mentally. Please forgive me (and all the others) for being the biggest jerks ever. You didn’t deserve a nano-second of the years we were unknowing idiots.
  26. Michael Eisner (21-year Disney CEO, 1984-2005): Thank you for turning Disney around.
  27. Frank Wells (10-year Disney COO until his tragic 1994 death in a heli-sky accident): Thank you for being Michael’s encourager and teacher.
  28. Loraine Smith (?) (Disney recruiter): Thank you for extending the Disney College program offer in 1981.
  29. Tom MacIntosh (builder): Thank you for building our very first starter home in 1985.
  30. Dave and Terri Rauh (builders): thank you for building our current home in 1992.
  31. Jennifer Noel (aunt): Thank you for showing what it takes to become, and remain, a lifelong artist.
  32. Margaret Zubek (mother-in-law): Thank you for helping your daughter and son-in-law launch their life together.
  33. Jesus: Thank you for changing the world.
  34. John Zubek (father-in-law): ditto with Margaret.
  35. Nora Erhart (pediatric Gastroenterologist): We have relied on your expertise and kindness for years.
  36. Cindy Hoback (school teacher): We feel privileged to have experienced three years of your passion.
  37. Dennis Frare (Disney Colleague): Nicknamed Dennis ‘Dr. Feelgood’ because he has a remarkable gift for lifting people up.
  38. Carol Burnette (comedian): Thank you for entertaining the Baby Boomer generation.
  39. Donna Flanagin (blogging friend): Thank you for being there from the very beginning in 2009, and being the first to make a habit of reading all five blogs daily.
  40. Bob Stewart (Internet friend): Thank you for being the first man to read all five blogs everyday. Your comments have been much needed fuel.
  41. Patty Hebert (blogging friend): Along with Donna and Bob, you are the most loyal and supportive of readers.
  42. Father William Ennis (Pastor): After 50 years as a Priest, your passion to be the hands and feet of Jesus is remarkable. Inspiring. Humbling.
  43. Lee Cockerell (retired EVP Disney Operations): The beauty in our friendship is that it was never contrived or forced. Disney lost one of it’s greatest operational leaders of all time.
  44. Judson Green (former Chairman Disney Attractions Worldwide): Your vision for Performance Excellence in 1993 changed Disney World. And jungle jeff.
  45. Neal McCord (first Disney Resorts manager 1985): Thank you for suggesting, in 1998, your friend in Professional Development Seminars call for an interview as a potential team member.
  46. Dr. Gary Borgman (Vet): Thank you for caring for our first two (canine) children.
  47. Mikki Maurer (neighbor since 1993 and Son’s God Mother): Thank you for being such a bright light in the world.
  48. Joan Royal (Floridian): Thank you for converting your cow pasture into a subdivision of 30 two-acre lots behind Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
  49. Mickey Mouse (boss): Thank you for being authentic.
  50. Bob Spina (Disney colleague): Thank you for being a freak. We had some of the best times (ever) teaching together at Disney.
  51. Rick Long (college Fraternity brother): You are a master at keeping foundational (college) relationships alive. Inspiring commitment.
  52. Diane and Charles Jacobs (Mom’s childhood friends): As great as Rick (#51) is, you make him look like an amateur. (No offense Rick – your time will come)
  53. Dr. Joel Weinberg (Family Physician since 1984): It has been a privilege to grow older with you. You have been a superb professional, and a growing friend.
  54. Everyone else not on this list (which only fits 55): If we’ve shaken hands or hugged, thank you for enriching life on this planet. You are the fabric of day to day living. The stuff memories are made from.
  55. The man in the mirror (which is all of us): You have come a long, long way. Best wishes as you prepare diligently for the third most magnificent day in your life.

Peace and blessings immeasurable to everyone, everywhere.

Note: Thank you to David Balentine for the list idea.

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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.