That doesn’t mean much to most anyone except for a few. It stands for “early retirement golf (at) 50”. This was the email/screen name of my friend Barry. It was 10 years ago this month that he passed. The loss was sudden as a result of a massive heart attack and instantaneous death. Barry was 48 at the time. Just two years shy of his dream retirement date. The shock was immense and widespread as Barry had more friends than I think anyone I have ever known.
Barry was a successful attorney in the Detroit area. His was the founder of a firm with his close friend and he built it to a very reputable and mid-sized firm. Barry’s specialty was business and that was his client base. I met him through a mutual client in 1985. Our client was fast growing and a family business that required much hand holding and an equal amount of refereeing.
Barry and I hit it off at once and we often tag teamed dealing with the multitude of issues that seemed to occur almost daily.
Barry was smart and practical. He made a great counselor for business. Barry loved his family and his friends Most of all, Barry was a mensch. Mensch is Yiddish for a man of great honor and integrity. A great guy! Barry’s friendships resulted from his absolute caring about you. When you were with him, it was all about you. More so than some superficial “how are you?” or “what’s new?”. This was about your life, your hopes and dreams, your fears and your needs. This was not done in an intrusive overbearing manner. It was subtle and real. It happened not at once, but, over the many interactions you would have.
I felt my relationship with him was special. While we were together a few times throughout the year, it was like we were together every day. Each of those time we laughed and had fun. We also talked deep. He was concerned with my son who had autism. The stress on my life. My business career. We talked about things I couldn’t talk to anyone else about. And the same was true with him. He shared about his life. His son who had severe health issues when he was born. His issues with partners and clients. This was about ultimate in trust. There was not judging each other for anything we said or did. It was just about being a true friend.
When Barry died in August 2003 it hurt. It hurt a lot. I could not make his funeral but I heard it was one of the largest that had been experienced. The shiva at his house had a line out the door and a packed house. What I found is that while Barry’s and my friendship was special, so were the friendships he had with many. He was a special guy, a unique person, a true mensch, a loving friend, husband and father. He continues to be a role model of what one should be.
I miss you my friend.