It is both sad and preposterous that someone as amazing as this person doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page dedicated to the monumental things he has accomplished…. even hot dog vendors and teenagers have Wikipedia pages.
Without going into detail, there is even a mammoth foundation, the birth of which he was solely responsible, which has no more than a paragraph dedicated to him as a person on their site, a seemingly micro-blip in their historical memory.
He passed away years ago, but out of respect for him, I will share something about him that is little known ~ a juicy tidbit of information that seems to have escaped the history books.
Here it is.
He was an amazing human.
There. His secret is out for the world to know.
He was an amazing human.
People were so entranced with the empire he built that they did not see him as I did, a teenager who cared nothing for money or power, but instead waited for each moment I could sit around his dining room table again to barrage him with my typical million questions, the ones that I roll off like machine gun fire when I meet or know someone who inspires me.
I will not say his name, because it would deter from his story.
This person was born into a large family many years ago. His father died, leaving him in charge of his younger siblings. I can’t remember when he quit school, but I remember him saying he was very young, maybe around his 6th grade. He went to work to support his family; an uneventful job with one day off each week.
Instead of playing video games or complaining on his one day off, he walked over to the library and checked out book after book and taught himself everything he could. He was like a sponge that never took in too much water.
His brilliance shone like a beacon and never waned, ever. Brilliant. Utterly brilliant.
This person continued to read and work, work and read, and one day founded a little corporation which would in turn, become one of the largest corporations in the world’s history.
But this person was still the same person that he was when he was young.
He was ‘real.’
Yes, admittingly he was a voracious businessman and I would have run as fast as my legs would have taken me if I were up against him in a business deal, but this is not how I knew him. He was a friend.
I remember we used to write letters back and forth when I was in university. Once I wrote him that I felt bad for him that no one saw that his true wealth was NOT in his bank account, but in his richness as a person. He wrote back a letter thanking me, and shared the thought with his accountant who laughed and said “he begged to differ.”
We both had a good laugh over that, but if you think about it, his accountant knew him in the business world and I did not.
In his private life, this person did not “suffer fools gladly,” or people who he felt were false in any way. His radar was dead on and could spot them from a mile away in his sleep.
He would graciously offer his home to others to have charitable parties, but he would often ‘meet & greet,’ then disappear. He would stay in his study for the majority of the evening reading or listening to music. He wanted to help others, but the people who would receive the benefits of his charitable hosting were not the people who were at the parties. If he even caught a whiff of insincerity (outside the office) he would disappear to the back quarters of his estate.
He loved to have epic conversations with people he found fascinating, and if that meant a king or his gardener, he would chat with them just the same. To him, fascinating people and events were just that, fascinating people and events; and there was no doubt I was fascinated by him.
It is also a beautiful thing that he donated this money anonymously for the most part. I remember one evening, a gala celebrating a large project to which he had donated an impressive sum. This person sat quietly in his seat and politely clapped as people who had donated much less than him were publicly accepting awards in front of newspapers and television stations. He didn’t mind their accepting awards, he just preferred to live just under the radar. No one knew that without his secret generosity the project would not have been able to happen. I was never going to tell…. and still won’t. He may have passed on, but his secrets are still safe with me.
Sobbing, my mother phoned me in Texas during my university studies at SMU. This person was dead. Dead? How could HE be dead?
I was shocked. I was IN shock.
How could someone like this really die? He was such a huge influence on my life. How could he die? I was in denial and could not believe my ears.
About a week or two after his death, my mother called me in tears again. A box had arrived from New York City from this person. Inside the box were a set of bowls that he liked and sent them to my mother just because he found them beautiful and wanted her to have them. They were not expensive bowls, just normal bowls one might use for eating cereal in the morning, but he knew my mother loved blue & white patterns and sent them for her to enjoy.
He had everything and more one could desire, but his greatest gift was his sensitivity to the smaller things that made life interesting that made him special.
And I still wonder why someone like this is barely mentioned on the internet.
His companies and foundations are present, but what about HIM ? The PERSON I was honored to know, the person that I would have admired even if he were penniless and living in a cardboard box because of his brilliance, his ingenuity, his craftiness, his raw and unstoppable determination…. but whose private character was tempered by his love of the inner and micro-beauty of the world ~ writing, art, dance, and finding the “thing” in people that made them tick, made them special.
Perhaps he had desired to keep his identity secret, like he did at the parties or at the evening where people were being publicly acknowledged for their donations.
Or maybe it is because what his accountant had said about how he “begged to differ” that this person’s true richness was in his personality and not in his bank account, was true for others as well. Perhaps everyone was so caught up in his power and money they missed the biggest part of him …. the jaw-dropping brilliance and humanity behind the human that put so many things into play.
I salute him today and thank him for being such a positive and wonderful addition to my life. He is greatly missed.