I lost a good friend this week. I first met John Bresnan in the nineties when he and his family moved to Charlotte, and even though we could not be more different, we became close right away. Julie has runway model good looks and exquisite taste, and John was a Wall Street wunderkind and came to Charlotte to take his place at the top of the First Union tower. Our daughters became close friends immediately at Country Day and we soon found ourselves celebrating holidays together and being each other’s surrogate families.
When i first met John I thought he was very serious and a bit stand-offish. He had a way of half closing his eyes and staring at me down his nose that made me wonder if he found me ridiculous, but that was just his way. He was not only the smartest but also the funniest man I have ever known. He loved to gossip and when he was still smoking, would stand outside the bank in Charlotte and get the scoop on everyone’s business from the other smokers. He enjoyed hearing crazy stories about people he had never even met and referred to them by their behavioral quirks. For example, one person I know makes the worst, weakest coffee, and so John called him One Scoop for his ratio of coffee grounds to a full pot of coffee. “How’s your buddy One Scoop?” he’d ask me.
I am accustomed to fathers who use their busy work schedule as a way to excuse themselves from involvement with their children, but as busy as John was, he kept close tabs on his daughters and even drove them crazy with his frequent phone calls. Any scrape they found themselves in, John would move heaven and earth to make them safe. He didn’t necessarily like the boys the girls dated, but he even allowed one strange and useless boy to live in their garage apartment at one time. And whatever activity the girls wished to try, he approved and supported it. When his younger daughter spent an entire summer watching tv, he would ask her everyday when he returned from work how she was enjoying Camp Couch.
After he retired from banking, he was recruited by a major investment house. Ron asked him what they had him doing, and he said “I don’t do anything. They pay me substantially to come in every day and make them laugh.”
Like many bankers, John was Conservative and a Republican, but once when I visited them in Charleston where they had moved, he borrowed my car to drive out to the golf club on Kiawah to get something he had left there. He thought it was funny that his buddies saw him driving a beat up Mazda covered in Peace and Love bumper stickers. He drew the line at Donald Trump, though, and voted Democratic for the first time. He knew Trump from NY and called him “A crook and an idiot.”
I frequently asked his advice on any financial situation, and he was happy to tell me the best course of action, which I always followed. On the light side, he loved watching Judge Judy on television and following people he didn’t know on Facebook. He wasn’t scared to press buttons on his phone and laughed when he inadvertently sent colorful messages to everyone he ever knew. He was always at the Brunk Auction either in person or online and would snap up art, jewelry, and furniture if he thought it a good deal, whether or not the Bresnans had a place for it, and as soon as Julie had their magnificent homes decorated to their satisfaction, he would sell the house and buy a different place. As a result, Julie has a warehouse full of antiques they can’t use in their current home. He loved golf and was hard on everyone if he had a bad day on the golf course.
I can’t say he reminded me of anyone else, because John was unique and always himself. I miss him already.