I hesitated for four months in submitting even a semblance of an autobiography for it's been a fairly ordinary, somewhat hum-drum life.
After Amherst, I graduated from Yale Law School; clerked for a New York Federal Judge and then joined Sullivan & Cromwell. Within months thereafter, I enlisted in the Navy; went to officers' school in Newport, R.I. and served approximately three and one half years in Seattle negotiating shipbuilding and ship repair contracts despite pleas from me to send me to sea. Some of the non-magnetic minesweepers I was involved with ended up 35 years later in the Gulf War.
I rejoined the law firm I had left and practiced corporate law there till 1960. I left and soon became a partner in a law firm for 12 years, first as head of the real estate department and then the corporate department. I left the firm as I saw it torn by strife; then a somewhat unique phenomena for sizeable law firms but now quite common.
I then joined Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Heine et al. as co-managing partner. We built the firm from 38 lawyers when I arrived to one of the world's largest law firms of over 750 lawyers. I also headed the corporate department of the firm. Amongst our partners were a number of famous politicians including Bob Wagner, Hugh Carey, Paul Laxalt and Russel Long. That firm also became torn with internal strife and I left, again before its demise.
Since then, I have continued to practice corporate and real estate law as counsel to a firm formed by some of my former younger partners. While practicing law, I and various partners have also been active in buying companies such as Kinney Parking Company, Cunningham Dry Stores (in both of which I was C.E.O.), and American Bakeries Company. Most recently, my business activities have been primarily involved in buying real estate throughout the country, predominantly shopping centers in the Philadelphia and Houston areas.
My corporate law practice during its last few full-time years was primarily involved with mergers and acquisitions, hostile and friendly, such as Varnado, Alexanders and G.A.F. (all hostile) and the ones mentioned above (all friendly).
Two of the most interesting interludes during practice occurred in Mississippi in 1966 and in Washington with the Agency for International Development in 1965.
My government interlude was concerned with enhancing private investment in developing countries. We were extremely presumptuous in mandating the development of countries we were concerned with by insisting on how they were to plan their economies, while the parent organization, our State Department, permitted (perhaps even encouraged) bribery and corruption. I had pledged two years of service with the Government but left prematurely. It was a Vietnam escalating time! I was asked to sign a check for a CIA operation in Laos when that morning President Johnson told the world we were not and would not be in Laos. Good bye Washington and back to New York.
Perhaps my most satisfying, terrifying, intellectually provocative experience was in Mississippi in 1966, just after the "Meredith March". As lawyers, we tried to extricate a number of people incarcerated or about to be incarcerated by local law enforcers. The locale of "Mississippi Burning" was part of my territory for a short time. I went to Mississippi that summer as a ideologue. I returned wondering whether anyone had the right to disrupt an old, crumbling but functioning society without a viable alternative to present. In that respect, to me President Johnson's voting Rights Act of1964, enforced by the Federal Government went a long way to solving the problem. The "vote" made the difference and the relatively bloodless revolution was sustained.
I am on my third wife (none by death) with five children, aged from 44 to 8 and four grandchildren. For the last 13 years, I have been happy as a clam domestically. One of my daughters lives in Spain, another lives in Easthampton, N.Y. and is a painter, two boys are on Wall Street and the most challenging is in grammar school in Bedford, N.Y. with us.
So far, there has been enough on the table each year to keep us healthy but that, together with tithing to Amherst, keeps the wolf at our door but not inside the house.
My political philosophy has gone from the far left to the center. I gave up my party registration about five years ago to become an independent and have become more than a little skeptical about the ability and sincerity of most of our politicians and more reliant on the innate wisdom of the American people when, and perhaps only when a crisis is in the offering. I think the present political process of impeachment of the President, on both sides, tells it all.
Through it all, my memories and appreciation of Amherst and what it gave to me grows year by year. To rank it number 1 is to me a given.