Today I begin a small project that I should have done several years ago.
For a while before my father, Charlie Morin, died in 2007, I had been helping him to organize and assemble his “memoirs.” Over the previous twenty years, he had been quietly amassing a trove of stories that covered his professional life. As his health declined and he lost energy, I helped him organize the material, and I “interviewed” him extensively on other stories he had yet to tell. At the end of the day, however, he knew we’d never get the project done.
I asked him if he would mind if I continued the work on my own. He was happy to know I would. Following his death, I attempted for some time to complete the story of his professional life, which required interviewing some of the lawyers in his firm who he had hired out of law school and who had remained with him for their entire careers. It soon became clear that after Charlie was gone, everything that went with him was a secret. The Pinstripe Wall was erected, and my effort to complete the story stalled.
So, I had a work-in-progress of about 20,000 words and no way to finish it.
I’ve decided that, finished or not, it shall not go to waste. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my father. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t share his stories with you.
And in this way, I will cleverly be able to jump start this blog from its embarrassing somnolence.
So, for the next several weeks, every few days, I will be posting a chapter or two of the unfinished biography of Charles Henry Morin, entitled “WARHORSE.”
Let’s get started!
In the St. Germain section of the Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, Charles H. Morin was laid to rest on August 25, 2007, one week after his 85th birthday. There was nothing ceremonious about his memorial service, no thundering organ music to a packed cathedral, no choir. Just an elegant and simple service attended by two dozen of so of the thousands of individuals great and small whose lives he had touched deeply. It was how he had instructed it: nothing to call undue attention to it. Don’t blow a lot of money on a fancy casket. And “be funny.”
There was Chuck Colson, Morin’s 1961 law partner who became a household name during Watergate and later one of the world’s leading Christian intellectuals. There was Jack Donahue, one of Morin’s first clients from 1955, still a client at his death, and the Chairman of a $200 billion family of mutual funds. There was Ken Lopez, the owner of a modest limousine service, who had driven Morin to and from the Palm Beach International airport for nearly twenty years. There were Henry Cashen and Bob Higgins, lawyers from Morin’s fabulously successful powerhouse Washington law firm, Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin, who had been hired by Morin thirty-eight years earlier and had never given a thought to practicing with anyone else but “the Chairman.” There was Mike Saperstein, who was a mid-level staffer at the S.E.C. when he met Morin in 1967 and later became a Managing Director of Bear Stearns Company, which Morin represented for decades. And Patricia Owens, who joined Colson & Morin in 1962 and had been serving as Morin’s personal secretary for an incredible 47 years.
And all of them had the same trouble believing that the day would ever come when he would be gone.
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Tags: biography, charles morin, dickstein shapiro