Wednesday, November 22, 2017


He was a law professor’s law professor. With a twinkle in his eye, he could espouse the most preposterous position on any proposition of law or politics and stubbornly defend it against any and every effort to uphold reason and common sense.

He could make you think. He could make you analyze. He was a born teacher who motivated his students to work, forced them to learn how to learn.

I hired Pete Jason more than forty years ago. No search committee. No formal application or interview. He was a friend of Bob Krinock’s, a U. of Detroit guy and, at a relatively young age, had already risen to the position of Corporate Council of the City of Detroit.

He had no academic credentials as I remember, but like most of the early faculty at Thomas Cooley Law School, Pete Jason was a ‘good old boy’ well liked, well recommended, easy to know, fun to be with.

Peter was the quintessential pixie. He could draw you into a heated debate with some outlandish assertion or improbable contention. You knew he wasn’t serious. But he would never admit a spoof or concede a point.

Looking back, I marvel at the chutzpa we all shared in the salad days of Cooley. In many respects, Pete Jason and I, along with a handful of others shared the task of making something out of nothing.

That is an experience like no other. The act of creating, of founding, of launching an institution is not shared by many people. I know how iffy it was for me; a young married man with a young family. It was certainly as shakey a limb for Pete Jason and his wife, Sandy, as well.

But it was a limb he happily crawled out on. Nobody was more dedicated or committed to the Thomas M. Cooley Law School than Peter D. Jason. And no one is to this day, more nearly identified with Cooley and its philosophy of access to legal education.

Pete Jason is dead. He died just a week or so ago and not much more than a few days after he sat next to Polly and me at a dinner of some old faculty people.

It’s a strange realty. One moment you are enjoying the company of an old and dear friend, laughing at stories told and retold over the years; then seemingly in the blink of an eye, the friend is gone; the companionship, so real and so vital, is over; the present has become the past; the friend has lost his own time and space, and he now lives only in the shared memories of those who knew and loved him.

Polly and I, along with all the folks at Cooley Law School, and a virtual army of his former students will keep him in our hearts and prayers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


I began working on a puzzle before supper. I finished it around 10:30 at night. My rough estimate is that it took me five hours to fill in the grid with all of the correct numbers.

So now it’s bedtime. I should be under the covers, saying night prayers, thanking the Almighty for the blessing of another day.

Truthfully, I am tempted to apologize to the generous Creator. This marvelous planet is replete with activities, teeming with interesting people, full of energy, daunted by challenges, and bursting with opportunities to make the most of every day.

The Lord has blessed me with a long, healthy life. And what do I do with it?

I work puzzles. Sudoku puzzles. Word puzzles. Number puzzles. Jig Saw puzzles. Puzzle puzzles. Yuk!

Of course, I assuage my conscience by telling myself that I am exercising my brain; that acuity in logic and clarity of thought are the by-products of mental activity.

And I go to Google to prove it:

Still, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s an awful waste of time.

On a shelf in the hallway upstairs there is a random collection of diaries Polly and I have started, kept and abandoned through the years. Many of those pages are filled with the minutia of daily living; going to the office, driving kids to school, visiting and/or entertaining neighbors, friends and relatives; household chores and on and on.

They bring back the hectic days of midlife; the ice rink in the vacant lot next door; the Baptisms, First Communions, Proms, Graduations, Birthdays and countless crises encountered by a big and busy family.

Whatever challenges we faced in those days, boredom wasn’t among them.

Not that I am currently afflicted by ennui. The basement of our home in Harbor Springs is my special domain. Here are my locker room, my computer and even an area to practice putting.

And here is my library.

It’s not a big library. Just over 500 books. It would be more, but I donated some to Saint Michael’s Academy, the new Catholic high school in Petoskey.

That, incidentally, is an interesting  and admirable project, launched just a few years ago with the support of Catholic parents who remember their own teen years spent in the Catholic High Schools of Michigan and elsewhere.

It is a testimony to the perceived value of Catholic High School education that parents are so willing to sacrifice in order to provide the same opportunity for their children.

A cursory examination of the curriculum at Saint Michaels provides convincing proof that SMA students are getting a classical education. From the Iliad and Odessey to Julius Caesar and Shakespeare, Socrates and Homer
They read the classics, and study them in their classwork.

Clearly those students are not wasting their time, even if they should occasionally solve a Sudoku puzzle.

It probably would be a good thing for me to pull one of my books down off the shelf every day or so, if, for no other reason than to revisit some forgotten intellectual exercise.

And to enrich endless days of puzzle solving with the facts of history, and the opinions of intellectual leaders.

 I am always amazed at how many of those books I have never read. It is time to do something about that.

I could still do Sudoku puzzles in aid of regularity.