Friday, October 23, 2009

Richard Austin Dead at 71

The Charlotte Observer Obits note the passing of Richard “Dick” Austin, age 71, of Kiawah Island, SC, formerly of Charlotte, NC, passed away suddenly, Tuesday morning, October 20, 2009, at home.

Read: “He had a massive heart attack and just dropped dead”.

The family will be receiving guests on Friday afternoon, October 23, 2009 at St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 3016 Providence Road, Charlotte, NC, 28211 from 4:00 until 5:30 p.m., with a prayer service at 5:30 p.m. Friends and family are invited to attend his funeral Mass on Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 10:00 a.m., St. Gabriel Catholic Church. Burial will immediately follow at Forrest Lawn-East Cemetery, Matthews, NC.

(Note “guests” are from 4:00 until 5:30 and “Friends and Family” are invited to the funeral.)

Mr. Richard 'Dick' Arthur Austin was born on June 25, 1938 in Auburn, NY. He was a graduate of Carlisle Military Academy in Bamberg, SC in 1956, a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a BA in Business in 1960, and a veteran of the United States Army.

He retired as a partner with JC Bradford and Company after 39 years of service in the industry. (Which means he wasn’t with JC Bradford for 39 years.)

Dick was passionate about everything he undertook in life - he was involved with the 'MS Bike Ride to The Beach', a committed runner in his prime (5 marathons in all, including the Boston Marathon in 1990), and an avid golfer. He was a member of the Kiawah Island Club, a member of The Holy Spirit Church Choir and Parish Council Board, and a board member of The Kiawah Island Conservancy, as well as a supporter of the arts.

Dick will be dearly missed by all of those who knew him and loved him.

I knew Dick Austin back in the day when J. C. Bradford was a recognizable name in the securities industry. Dick was kind enough to hire me and gave me my first big break in the investment business. He was also kind enough to give me my second big break by firing me 3 years later. Without Dick’s intervention I would have languished in a mediocre firm and probably ended up selling shoes at Walmart or used cars for Rick Hendrick.

I didn’t agree with Dick’s management style. He pushed J.C. Bradford investments over quality mutual funds and was a company man right up to the last day. While other firms were moving toward a paperless office Dick and Bradford stood shoulder to shoulder holding on to the days when a “book of business” meant just that, a black binder book of investor information that held a record of each client’s transactions and number of shares owned.

Dick got the word one day that the Charlotte office wasn’t making the grade as far as home office in Nashville and the corporate finance department was concerned. Back in those days J. C. Bradford would underwrite and bring public just about anything with little or no due diligence. The word on the street was that Bradford Corporate Finance was the shitter and retail (us poor unknowing brokers were) the sewer and leach field.

Being told to crank up sales of a new company called Kolff Medical Dick did just that by telling the Charlotte brokers and office staff during a Monday morning “sales meeting” that the Charlotte office was going set a record with Kolff medical and “Come Vaseline or Baseball Bat” we were going to get the job done.

I like my 20 or so fellow brokers followed Dick’s instructions. We sold record amounts of Kolff Medical, and Republic Airlines, and Oil and Gas Partnerships and Strip Shopping centers and Apartment Complexes in Texas and just about everything you could come up with that would later turn to shit.

In the end Kolff Medical went bankrupt and Bradford investors lost millions. But I stayed in Dick’s good graces by being ranked number 3 in production. To Dick “Gross was Golden” and thanks to Dick I made a lot of money at Bradford. But I also learned that selling your soul for the sake of the sale had long term costs.

After I was fired from Bradford I went to work at Interstate Securities. Dick held up my registration with the NASD long enough to allow Bradford brokers to retain about ½ of my clients which forced a round of finger pointing and eventually led to a lawsuit.

We settled the lawsuit for $1.00 after a year of lawyers doing what lawyers do. I considered the case and the settlement a draw but Dick Austin saw it differently. After that Dick would never look me in the eye or shake my hand again.

I saw him several times over the last twenty years each time I’d extend my hand and he’d walk on by or just stare at me.

The thing that made Dick easy to work for was when he was pissed it really showed. The slightest thing would get his face beet red, and he'd swear he was fine. Dick hired what would turn out to be a "bad hire" in the name of Brian Carr. Brian was a smooth talking, worked the clients like he worked the ladies like the douche bag he was. Brian lacked what being a broker has always been about ..... class.

Ash Wednesday and Dick comes in late, a smudge on his forehead. Being a good Catholic Dick stopped for mass on the way to work and dutifully wore his ash like an I Voted sticker. But Brian being the under educated idiot pointed out to Dick that he had "some grease" on his forehead. Dick's face when red right away and though he ignored Brian everyone knew to stay out of Dick's way the rest of the day. The next morning Brian cleaned out his desk.

Dick was.... well a Dick! I’m not saying I didn’t like the guy I really did, he was true to himself and that I respect. But in the end he’s dead and I’m not and still I'm sad he too is gone.

If I ever meet up with Dick Austin again I’ll offer to buy him a beer and I’m sure he’ll just stare at me or walk away. But maybe seeing his life in review he'll say "hey why not!"

I sure hope they serve BEER in HELL!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I heard he was pretty much a prick too! I noticed the limited number of entries in the on line guest book.

Sad, the obit makes it seem as if he was a friend to all but the few friends who bothered to sign the guest book are all family.