HMC Interview

My father passed away last month at the age of 82, and a few weeks before he died I interviewed him for his life story. We recorded this over three sessions while he was in bed in his house in the northern Pittsburgh. He was suffering from bone and liver cancer at the time (and just starting with the morphine). Another week and this interview would not have been possible.

Some of you will have known him either at Federated Investors or as an early client of Jude Wanniski at Polyconomics. He did business with Mike Milken for a while too, in the late 70s and early 80s when Milken was at Drexel and my dad was running high-yield funds. (I think we almost moved out to LA actually.)

The interview covers:

* Early years growing up in Florida in the ’40s and ’50s;

* Various disastrous post-college jobs in Jacksonville, Tampa and Charleston SC in the early ’60s;

* First efforts to get established as a financial analyst in Washington and Baltimore in the 60s and 70s (i.e. more bad jobs);

* The move to Pittsburgh in 1974-75 and his years as a fund manager with Federated Investors and CS McKee.

The recording runs about 50 minutes.

There is one glitch in the story which I left in there because I couldn’t cut it without losing a lot of interesting stuff: His big break was landing the job at Federated in Pittsburgh in 1974 (and getting out of a bad situation at Equitable Life). We go over the same events twice on two different days — and the story is a bit different on the second telling. So, if it feels like the narrative goes backwards for a little bit, that’s why. It’s only like a 3-minute detour and I thought it was worth it.

Cameo appearances are made by my brother Bob and my father’s girlfriend Candi. (My brother’s voice is a little slow due to a recent challenge with a thing called cerebellar ataxia.)

This interview was done in mid-October 2021. He died peacefully on November 2.

Mike Churchill

Addendum: I should note that a big reason I wanted to do this is because my paternal grandfather, Walter Churchill, recorded his life story in the late 1980s, a couple years before he died, and I always found it extremely helpful: It served as a sort of roadmap to life. One thing that stuck with me were his stories of his lucky streaks as a salesman in the 1940s and stockbroker in the 1960s. The takeaway for me was, “Sometimes in life things roll your way and you should make the most of it.”

The other interesting parallel between my grandfather’s story and my father’s is that both end on retirement day. Neither really had much to say about anything that happened after they stopped working (at 62 and 55, respectively).  So … I found that noteworthy.

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