Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Remembering Harry John

Harry was idiosyncratic, as mentioned by Tom Roeser. A great story:

I remember I made several visits to his estate in behalf of a right-to-life organization I headed for some years-“Friends for Life.” The ritual could easily be turned into a hilarious comic novel by Evelyn Waugh. There was scant possibility of talking to him as he was in the chapel saying his prayers. Letters sent to him went generally unanswered. The one shot you had to communicate with him was at Mass at the point in the Sacrifice of General Intercessions. At that point the priest can choose to invite the worshipers to express aloud their request for God’s help. I remember attending several times and at the Intercessions expressing loud enough that the old man could hear it…as he stood with his head bowed…the need for financial help for this particular charity. The game was that if you made an impression at General Intercessions with your loudly expressed verbal prayer so that Harry John (if not God Almighty) would hear it, you might be invited by a functionary to attend the brunch in company with others.

At the brunch you maneuvered delicately to try to get a seat near the Font of all Generosity. I recall thinking that I had almost nabbed a seat next to His Honor only to have it snatched away with a superb football player’s block by a nun who also gave me the elbow which reeled me off balance. As it turned out, she was Mother Angelica, the soon-to-be-world-famous entrepreneur of the cable network “Eternal Word” which made her a household figure in Catholic circles…she building the network, stemming from initial Harry John grants to one of the most powerful religious stations in the country.

The experience of Mother Angelica which was also felt by Cdl. Mahony...

The rest of the story on Harry follows.

There was the case when John commissioned a treasure hunt for sunken ships plus risky investments in gold futures and junk bonds. Mrs. John and Gallagher filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee county circuit court to have John removed as a De Rance director. After a five month trial, the judge announced the plaintiffs had proven their allegations

Roeser does not mention that the "treasure hunt" actually paid off--the find was worth well over $50 million; but the claim had been sold off by Ms. John and Mr. Gallagher and the attorney in the case.

This was a very controversial ruling, even among disinterested attorneys. It represented something of a change in public policy regarding one's own fortune.

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