(The most interesting person I’ve ever known was the late Frank Sanders, a former colleague of mine at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC). But a single column could not do justice to Frank. There’s a whole chapter devoted to him in my business autobiography, Memoirs of a Grade Ten Dropout, which is available at Amazon.com)
Most of you probably never heard of Jeremy Brown; although readers from southern Ontario who are over forty may remember him as a newspaper columnist and radio personality. But it was in neither of these capacities that Jeremy first came into my life.
As I arrived home from work one evening, either in late 1969 or early 1970, the phone was ringing in our hallway. (Only one telephone per home in those days, and it was usually centrally located). When I answered it, the conversation went something like this.
“Is this Lyman MacInnis?”
“I hear you’re very argumentative.”
Not one to pass up such an opening, I replied, “What the hell do you mean I’m argumentative?”
“You’re just the guy I want.”
The caller, of course, was Jeremy. At the time, he was producing one of the resurrections of the CBC TV game show Fighting Words, hosted by the legendary arts critic, Nathan Cohen. I became a panelist on the show, and Jeremy became a good friend and client.
Jeremy, in addition to being a fine writer and broadcaster, was a great forward thinker. For example, back in the 70s he envisioned closed circuit TV cameras on all the major arteries in the greater Toronto area, with the images being used by all radio and TV traffic reporters rather than each outlet having its own aircraft and ground spotters. Today, over forty years later, that’s how it’s done.
Later in life Jeremy fell victim to Parkinson’s disease, but fought it like a tiger, refusing to give up any activity until he absolutely had to. He died fighting it ferociously.
Of all Jeremy’s interesting facets, the most interesting was that, although he had a very bad stutter, when he sat in front of a microphone, or picked up a telephone, the stutter disappeared.
Winnifred “Dibs” Stewart
Our older son, Matthew, is married to Dibs’ granddaughter, Beverley Bateman. I didn’t meet Dibs until Matt started dating Beverley in1992, but back in the late 60s and early 70s, I knew her husband, lawyer Jack Stewart. Jack and I even co-wrote a book together.
For the last twenty-two years I’ve enjoyed my countless conversations, and a few bridge games, with this remarkable lady. This past thanksgiving weekend Anne and I spent a delightful afternoon and evening with Dibs. Not only is she completely up to date on all current events, from sports to the economy, and, of course, politics on all levels, she has strong opinions on all topics, which she never hesitates to express.
What’s so interesting you ask? Well, on December 27th she’ll be 101 years old.
J. Edward Boyce
Some time in the mid 70s I gave a talk on executive compensation to a fairly large audience in Toronto. After the talk I was approached by a confident-looking, well dressed, sophisticated gentleman who passed me his business card and said he wanted to talk to me about the possibility of my advising some senior executives in his company. As the crowd had pretty well disbursed, I suggested we have a coffee and talk about it right then. He agreed.
Ed was the vice-president of human resources for a company called MDS (medical data services), at that time one of Canada’s most successful public companies. As it turned out, a number of their most senior executives (including Ed) did become my clients.
Ed is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever known, and certainly one of the most interesting (as a matter of fact, not far behind Frank Sanders).
At age 35 he became provincial superior of the Redemptorists order of priests in Canada. Provincial superior is a very senior position within the order, and everyone seemed to agree that he was well on his way to becoming a very young Cardinal; some even predicted he could be North America’s first Pope. Then he quit and became a business executive.
All Ed ever revealed to me about such an amazing transformation was that he reached a point where he thought he could do more good by making a lot of money in business, and using it for good works, than he could within the clergy. I can attest to the fact that Ed made a lot of money and that he devoted most of it to helping others.
Ed didn’t marry until after he retired from MDS, and the last I heard (he lives mostly in France, so we’ve drifted apart) he and his much younger wife were raising two young children.
When Ed and I were having our coffee that first day, he mentioned that he knew I was from PEI, and told me that he had been the parish priest at the Holy Redeemer parish in Charlottetown in the early 60s. I told him that had been my wife’s parish.
“What was her name?” he asked.
“Anne Affleck,” I replied.
“I remember her well,” he said. “She was a very special young lady.” I readily agreed and assured him that she still was.
When I got home that evening I told Anne about meeting Ed and asked her if she remembered him.
“Oh, yes,” she enthused. “We all thought his being a priest was an awful waste.”