#RealConvo #StopSuicide blog Loss Survivors Personal Stories

I Know You Think This Will Never Get Better — AFSP

Apr. 30, 2019- Within the fall of 1973, during my second yr of regulation faculty on the College of Southern California, as was the customized, I interviewed on campus for a summer time clerkship with a number of Los Angeles regulation companies and was invited again for more in depth interviews to some of them, together with the mid-sized corporate agency of Hahn Fraser. After a full afternoon of interviews, my last one was with the senior identify companion, Horace L. Hahn. Mr. Hahn was at the time 55 years previous – onerous to consider I’m now fourteen years older than him as I write this. I was a baby-faced 23-year-old and had been married a whopping three months.

I was seated opposite him at his leather topped desk occupied by a few neat stacks of papers and an ashtray filled with butts of unfiltered Chesterfields – my mother’s model. The partitions of his nook workplace have been paneled in dark oak and the home windows coated with shutters made from the same wooden. Mr. Hahn was ruggedly handsome with close-cropped reddish-gray curly hair, broad shoulders, military-like posture, and a deep booming voice and boisterous snort.  Though I not often take note of these sorts of things, I couldn’t assist however notice the gold ring on his proper hand – two eagles with their wings outstretched, perched on opposites sides of a diamond. He spoke with an air of aristocracy. I instantly appreciated him.

We chatted for a couple of minutes about this and that – I don’t keep in mind what – and then he turned very critical. He leaned forward with each forearms on his desk and, together with his wolf-like gray eyes boring into mine, asked – no, demanded to know – “Mr. Gauntt, what is the worst thing that has happened to you in your life?” I was momentarily surprised by the query.

No one in my different interviews requested me that. The truth is, no one had ever asked me that. There was little question about my reply; solely a quick hesitation of whether to take the straightforward method out—‘Uh, I didn’t get into Stanford regulation faculty’—or open the door to my dark basement I not often entered.

“My father died by suicide a few days before Christmas in 1970. He took his life at his office the night I came home to Itasca, a Chicago suburb, for the holidays. We thought he was in Panama on a business trip and returning home the next day. My mother woke me the next morning with the news and I came out to the living room with my thirteen-year old sister to meet with two DuPage County Detectives. I was twenty years old and a junior at USC.”

I can’t specifically recall what either of us did next. He might have stated one thing like, “Thank you for telling me that,” and I may need stated, “I never talk about this and I’m not sure why I told you.” But what I do know is that at that second, a bond was shaped between us that might only develop into stronger over the subsequent 30 years right as much as his demise in 2003. Horace Hahn turned like a second father to me. He had no youngsters of his personal. I put on his eagle ring daily. Oh, and I acquired the job.

Shortly after beginning at Hahn Fraser as a full-time associate in September of 1975, I began to work with Brian, a senior affiliate specializing in the whole lot that wasn’t litigation. Brian was a really shiny, hard-working, energetic and excitable lawyer. He was impulsive and susceptible to matches of temper. I worked intently with him and he educated and mentored me in a wide variety of fascinating real property and company issues.

Brian was intemperate. He appreciated to get a drink or two after work and he asked – dragged – me along many a time, much to my spouse, Hilary’s, chagrin. There actually was no such thing as “one or two” with Brian. More like 5 or more, and all the time scotch and sodas, tall. Nevertheless, this time spent with Brian was invaluable. This is where I discovered the whole lot about agency politics, how the partnership labored, the compensation system, what you had to do to make companion, how the personalities of the partners shook out, who to work for and who to watch out for. I additionally acquired all of the gossip and details of what went on within the companions meetings. Brian made associate a few yr after I started.

Brian was also very formidable. He had landed a brand new shopper, Steve Bronco, about his age, also a lawyer, who was starting a new financial institution.  Brian typically railed towards the injustice of his shoppers making so much cash, excess of he was as a lawyer, when he was infinitely smarter they usually have been piggybacking on his intellect to make their fortunes. Brian also did not cover from his companions, or me, his feelings that he was undercompensated and underappreciated by the agency. So, in 1978 Brian left Hahn Fraser and arrange his own agency. He continued to do loads of work for Steve and his new bank and, shortly thereafter, give up his regulation apply and went to work full time for the bank and reap his fortune. Hilary and I moved to Solana Seashore, CA in 1979 and I went to work for Hahn Fraser’s just lately opened San Diego office. Brian and I lost contact.

Three years later, a Wednesday afternoon, Brian referred to as me from out of the blue and requested if I’d heard the information. “Yes.” I’d just lately read in the papers that a felony indictment had been filed by the U.S. Lawyer in Federal Courtroom in San Diego towards Steve, Brian and others involving financial institution fraud. Brian stated he was in San Diego and asked if I had time to get a drink. “I’d really like to talk to you, but understand it’s short notice and all.” There was something in his voice.

“Sure, where do you want to meet?”

“Well, actually I’m calling you from the bar in your building. I’ve been here a while.”

When I acquired there a couple of minutes later, he was sitting on the bar and on the telephone. We shook palms and he gave me the “one minute” signal. I discovered an empty booth in a corner and slid in.  When he received off the telephone he came to visit together with his drink (scotch rocks) and, Horace Hahn-like, boomed, “Casey Gauntt! How the hell have you been?” Brian ordered a back-up from the trailing waitress and for me – the standard – Dewars soda, tall.

He requested about Hilary and our daughter, Brittany, who was two. Brian stated he and his spouse, Maryann, and their two teenage daughters have been nonetheless dwelling of their fabulous home in Glendale, a basic, designed by Green and Inexperienced. We talked about Hahn Fraser and some of his former companions. I’d made companion two years earlier. Brian was smoking, Winstons as I recall, and I bummed from him the first of a number of that night time. “Gauntt, don’t you ever buy your own cigarettes?” Typically. In these days I favored to smoke when I was out for cocktails.

After a half hour of catching up, and a recent spherical of drinks, the conversation turned critical and Brian laid out the misdeeds of the financial institution to cover liquidity issues. “At first I didn’t realize what was going on. Then I did, and I became involved. I should have quit right then. I thought we could work the bank out of its financial problems before the regulators figured out what was really going on. It was stupid, wishful thinking.”

The bank was seized by the regulators, he was out of a job, and the legal expenses had been filed towards them. Brian was broke. He’d already spent a small fortune, his savings, on his felony defense attorneys and was afraid he was going to lose his house; every little thing.

Brian continued, “Ok, here it is. This afternoon my lawyers and I met with the U.S. Attorneys handling the case and we cut a deal. I will plead guilty to some felony charges and cooperate with their investigation against the others and, in return, their office will recommend a sentence of 5 to 8 years. It will be up to the judge – could be more, could be less – bottom line, I’m going to jail.” His head and his shoulders slumped; he appeared beat and defeated.

“When does this happen?” I asked. He stated it might take a couple of days for the plea agreement to be ready after which several weeks earlier than he went earlier than the decide for sentencing.

“I’ll lose my ticket, you know. When you plead to felonies like this the California Bar takes your license. I’ll never be able to practice law again. Hell, I’ll never get another job.”

Brian stared into his near-empty drink for a long time after which appeared sideways. With the back of the hand not holding the cigarette, he rubbed away the tears that started to fall from his puffy eyes – his shoulders shaking. “Casey, I screwed everything up. I’ve thrown it all away. Everything. My girls – how can I tell ’em? How do I go home and look at my wife and my girls and tell them ‘Guess what? Daddy’s going to jail.’ Oh, for God’s sake, how the hell can I go to jail?  How do I do that?”

And then he received very quiet earlier than he looked at me and stated, “I can’t.”

It was the best way he stated it – the look – the hollow sound in his voice. He had made a decision; one he’d in all probability been turning over in his thoughts for weeks. I noticed the cocktail waitress coming with one other round. I waived her off and she or he spun away on her heel. We spent the subsequent hour locked in probably the most critical dialog I’d ever had with any person.

“Brian, I know this is bad. It’s hard to imagine how you will ever be able to live with this or get beyond it. I know you think this will never get better; it will only get worse. But I need to tell you something and I’m speaking from experience. You know my father killed himself in 1970. Right?”  He nodded.

“I was twenty. My sister was thirteen, in the eighth grade. Laura adored my dad. He was her favorite person in the whole world – her knight in shining armor– and she was his princess.  Brian, I know you think if you check-out that will make it better for your family; make it easier for them. Take it from me, it won’t. It makes it worse. And it’s worse for a long, long time. Maryann and your girls will be hurt and embarrassed if you go to jail, and they will cringe when asked by their friends ‘Where’s Brian?’ ‘Where’s your dad?’ ‘What does he do?’ Most of them already know. Bad news spreads fast. And your girls will eventually deal with it. But Brian, they may never be able to deal with the loss, the emptiness, if you check out. I haven’t, and it’s been twelve years since my dad took his life. My sister hasn’t. My brother hasn’t. If you do this, you won’t go to prison. But, believe me, you’ll be handing your wife and daughters a life sentence.”

I informed Brian about my dad’s and his company’s financial problems.

“Your problems are bigger than what my dad was facing. No question. But bottom line, I don’t care how bad it gets for you. It will never come close to the pain and trauma you will bring onto your family if you do this. Brian, your family loves you; they want you; the rest of this crap will fade away.  You have to ride this out for your girls.”

We each have been crying at this level.

We talked a bit extra and I encouraged – begged – Brian to examine into the lodge subsequent door. I walked him as much as the check-in desk to ensure he did it and asked him to name me within the morning. I drove house, a silly thing to do given “the couple” of drinks I had, however the adrenaline was pumping and all my senses have been firing. I hoped I’d get that call, however I wasn’t positive.   I obtained to the home around midnight; my spouse and child have been sleeping.

In the morning I awoke, exhausted and hung over, and was back on the workplace around eight. I debated whether to call or go right down to the lodge and see if Brian was still there. I admit an enormous part of me was afraid to seek out out, so I ended up doing nothing, besides fear.

A few hours later I obtained a name. It was Brian and he was again in Glendale. He stated he obtained up early and drove house. He had simply completed telling Maryann concerning the plea discount, and they might tell the women once they obtained residence from faculty. He sounded pretty good. He stated he’d in all probability be back in San Diego in a couple of weeks and perhaps we’d get collectively then. He signed off with, “And thank you…for everything.”


Brian ended up serving rather less than two years. I saw him a few occasions after he received out, the last at a retirement social gathering for Horace Hahn in March of 1987. Shortly after his release, Brian went to work for considered one of Horace’s long-time shoppers. He had stopped consuming and appeared as fit as I’d ever seen him. Brian and Maryann have been collectively and his women have been doing properly. He appeared completely satisfied.  That was the final time I noticed or spoke with Brian. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2002.


At round 12:30 pm on Friday, August 15, 2008, Hilary and I exited the Mandeville Auditorium on the united states Campus in La Jolla, California. The memorial service for our 24 year-old son, Jimmy, had simply concluded. We watched his associates, his pallbearers, raise his casket into the hearse parked next to the auditorium. We did our best to greet and hug as many as we might of the over one thousand household and pals in attendance. Six day earlier, Jimmy was strolling residence from a celebration in the early morning hours and was by chance struck and killed by an vehicle.

A lady got here up to me. She seemed to be in her mid-sixties. I didn’t keep in mind her identify, but she seemed acquainted. I went to shake her hand, but she gave me a hug as an alternative. “You may not remember me. I’m Maryann. Casey, I’m here for you today because you were there for Brian and us all those years ago. Thank you and God bless you and your family.”

She walked away wiping tears from her eyes, as I did from mine.


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