Andy and I were law partners for seven years. As a lawyer, Andy was simply the best of the best. He was never afraid of taking on a challenge. That total absence of fear permeated everything he did, including how he battled his disease. He once took on a case a week before trial, and, while making it look easy, did an amazing job and received a very favorable outcome for his client. Andy’s brilliance, attitude and passion for everything he did made working with Andy one of the greatest pleasures of my professional career.
Karla Ingold, Andy’s paralegal for almost 11 years, shared with me a 2004 email that Andy had kept. The email told the story of Charles Plumb, a U.S. Navy pilot during the Vietnam war, who was shot down, captured, and spent almost six years as a P.O.W. One day, so the story goes, Captain Plumb was approached by a man who knew who he was. The man said, “You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the Kitty Hawk and were shot down.” Plumb asked him how he knew that, and the man replied, “I packed your parachute.” Plumb said he could not sleep that night, because he was thinking about that man, wondering how many times he might have seen him and never even said “good morning” because he was a pilot and the man was just a sailor. If that stranger had not taken such care in folding his parachute, Captain Plumb may not have survived. Captain Plumb ultimately became a motivational speaker, and his lectures revolve around the theme that attitude is the key to survival. He now asks his audience “Who is packing your parachute?”
Andy demonstrated and encouraged the same perfection as an attorney that was required of the man who packed Captain Plumb’s lifesaving parachute. Andy however, always showed his appreciation and never failed to share his success and love with those that supported him. He understood, and expressed, better than anyone I have ever met, that he knew who packed his parachute, and that he cherished each of us.
When Andy spoke to you, he had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world to him. Andy always remembered something special or important about everyone he met. He remembered your children’s names, how old they were, and where they went to school. He remembered birthdays, particularly “milestone” birthdays. He checked in with everyone to make sure everyone was doing well, even when he was not doing as well as he would have liked.
Andy faced numerous challenges for the four and a half years that he battled cancer, yet he refused to focus on the negative. His positive attitude was the key to his survival after he first received the diagnosis. He once told me that someone had said to Andy that he was sorry that Andy had to fight that horrible disease. Andy was perplexed that anyone would think he was a victim. He said he considered his diagnosis a blessing. Despite having to undergo sometimes debilitating treatment, Andy chose to live the next four and a half years of his life to the fullest. He continued to be available for his family, clients, friends, and all of us that worked with him.
Andy never lost his awesome sense of humor. He especially loved April fool’s Day. He spent hours coming up with pranks for April 1st every year. One year, after probably an hour of brainstorming ideas, we decided to make jello molds with office implements such as staplers. Andy and I laughed until tears were rolling down our cheeks; not so much those who had to free their staplers from red goo.
Andy was a man of such talent, unusual intelligence, and kindness. It doesn’t seem fair that he should have been spirited away at the age of 46. As we try to find some human meaning from the silence, we can close our eyes and see a man who was always smiling, who loved his family, who loved being a lawyer and who worked hard at everything he did. What I learned from Andy is that character is essential, and for all of us whose lives Andy touched, we can find some comfort in how he brought us all together to share his story.
Andy was a loving husband, devoted father, dedicated and brilliant lawyer and partner, and a true friend to all of us. He left a legacy of integrity, dignity, and grace. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work with and learn from Andy. He is deeply missed but will never be forgotten.