My wife’s grandfather, “Pappy,” passed away last week. He was 98 years old.

A decorated World War II veteran, he epitomized everything great about the Greatest Generation. On his 90th birthday, he published a memoir titled Battle Tested: Street Kid, Soldier, Teacher, Patriarch.

Included in the book were details of him being the first American soldier to enter the Ohrdruf concentration camp. (Ohrdruf was the first Nazi camp to be liberated by US forces.) For his wartime contributions, he received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

After being discharged from the military, he embarked on a 37-year career as a high school history teacher.

I was honored to be asked to speak at his funeral.

Considering the breadth of his life, I felt it could be ironically summarized in one word: Love. He loved the outdoors. He loved hunting and fishing. He loved his country. He loved his community. He loved being a teacher. He loved his family. And above all, he loved his wife. (They were married for 73 years!)

I’ve been thinking about this summation in the days since his funeral, and maybe I should’ve given more consideration to using the word service—not necessarily in terms of service to his country but service, in general, to others.

Many of his former students came to the funeral home to pay their respects. Some of them came with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs as they were 50 and 60 years removed from his classroom.

Despite the distance, they remembered with vivid clarity the impact he had on their lives, how he was a “champion of the underdog student,” and how he always seemed to be there when they most needed him.

I heard similar stories from his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The number of their sporting events, recitals, graduations, and weddings that he made a point to attend is practically beyond measure.

Serving others in this manner requires sacrifice, selflessness, and the acceptance of inconvenience—concepts commonly connected to being a good teammate.

A commitment to service is the mark of a good teammate.

How well do you serve the needs of your team? When your time comes to its end, your commitment to the service of something greater than yourself will be what cements your legacy.

My wife’s grandfather’s life is a reminder of the impact you can have when you commit to serving something greater than yourself. Service allows your legacy to ripple through history. Service leads to your life being worthy of celebration.

As I am writing this, I find myself once again reconsidering my one-word summation. Perhaps love was the best choice because service is ultimately born of love. We serve because we love.

This sentiment is especially true when it comes to being a good teammate. Good teammates serve the needs of their teams because they love their teams.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory and the creator National Be a Good Teammate Day. He is a former sports coach turned bestselling author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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