Monday, January 21, 2008

A Funeral on Saturday

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The social remnants of my former law firm gathered Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis.

B's funeral on Saturday was most interesting. A former attorney general of Minnesota was one of three eulogists. Attendees included a former congressman and mayor of Minneapolis, the current mayor, a former vice president, a renowned publisher and Republican activist, and a chunk of the state capitol's lobbying corps.

B's father worked his way up to be London bureau chief for the Associated Press during WWII. B and his mother got the last boat out of London in 1939 before war was declared. B joined the navy at age 17. His first job in Minneapolis was as a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune. He later went to law school, then got a job in the attorney general's office where he met the early partners of the law firm. B became known as one of the state's premier lobbyists, able to work both sides of the aisle in the days when both sides knew something about the common good. His efforts were largely responsible for the legal structure that has allowed credit unions to flourish, and his efforts at the state and county level had much to do with the pre-Reagan model system of alcohol and mental health treatment that Minnesota used to enjoy.

An interesting thing about Saturday was that for all the time that many of us in the firm had spent together in the past, we had never been in church together. Just observing who did and did not receive communion was jarring. Apparently, communion was important to B; I did not know this.

When my first car got smashed-up, without me in it, B sold me his VW superbeetle and gave me three years to pay without interest. Working on his legislative lobbying team was a huge education and a great focus on the need for diligence about details -- information is preparation and preparation is power. He also put me in touch with the counselor at Hennepin County who helped me come out. New Year's Day open house at B's residence was always a fascinating gathering of the political power structure: governors, senators, legislators, county attorneys, and wanna-bees.

More than a touch nostalgic. We have fewer years ahead than there are behind. And we all made each other the people we are today. We still have time to create the people of tomorrow.