September 8, 2014
I'm terribly sorry to hear of Dick's death, a crushing and irreparable loss to you, I know. He was one of my great benefactors: gave me my first job as an editor when no one else would. I had no background in writing or editing; wasn't even an English major, because my father had a business and pressed me to prepare for a career in it. Dick liked the writing in my unusual resume. He taught me the ropes, admired my work, then promoted me to head of a small department with the impressive title Executive Editor.
When I decided, after two years with him, to leave for Princeton Theological Seminary, he tried to talk me out of it -- even arranged for me to meet with Richard Prentice Ettinger, founder of Prentice-Hall, who also tried to dissuade me from leaving. For complicated theological reasons (the clash of my intensely Catholic past with my Protestant present) I left seminary after a year. I would have returned to PH if my job were still open, but of course it was not; so I went back to my father's real estate office in Philadelphia. That was my third spell with him, and after six years we sold the business to our employees, my father retired, and I went to law school.
Dick was kind enough to stay in touch with me, and even take Jill and me to dinner while we were in Princeton. He didn't do that for every ex-employee. And when after law school (I graduated at age 40) no one would hire me (500 resumes, no offers) Dick hired me again for a job in his tax- and real-estate letters department. I was desperate -- desperate -- for a job then, with a sick wife and four little kids. Dick saved the day.
It turned out I wasn't very good at the kind of writing that was needed in the tax department, nor was I knowledgeable about taxation; but after two years my resume looked good enough that I could get a better job near home. I was able to settle with Jill and my children near my aging parents, where we could enjoy and help them for the rest of their lives.
Through all that, and for decades after, Dick remained a valued friend and advisor, mostly by letter, occasionally by phone. I was awed by his practical intelligence, as were the top people who worked for him. His insight and judgment were almost preternaturally penetrating.
I was proud to call him my friend and rue the fact that -- through no one's fault but mine -- I lost touch with him in his last years.
I know how devoted he was to you and Robert, Pat. He was a wonderful man to spend your life with.
Thank you for conveying to me your writer-neighbor's kind offer to get in touch with an agent for me. Though I have one book published (release date tomorrow; available on Amazon now), and another under contract, to be published next spring, I could use an agent for my secular work. I have a Christian agent for the book just published, but she doesn't handle the secular market. My secular novel The Last Dreamgirl was bought directly by Drake Valley Press, a small publisher that didn't require an agent.
Though I'm not currently offering it, I have another novel which many liked better than the one under contract, and another nonfiction book for the secular market, which I could discuss with an agent. I would be happy if your neighbor would make that contact. My business card is enclosed.
Again, Pat, my condolences on losing one of the finest men I've ever known.
Shane [aphorisms below]
Always think yourself fortunate. That is an unvarying aspect of the truth - and by all odds the best to fill your mind with. Shane Hayes
Value the good opinion you have of others more highly than the good opinion they have of you. The former is a possession; the latter only a wish. Shane Hayes