My father died last week. He was 90. Great run. Stayed in his house. 24/7 care. Spoiled rotten by four different caregivers – Chris, Dee, Dottie, and Rebecca. Died in his sleep. Peacefully.

No such thing as a good death, but this was close.

My father did not give advice.

To learn Lessons in Life from C. Harvey Warren, you had to observe. I tried. Here goes:

WANT SOMETHING DONE, DO IT YOURSELF.

He built a house for his family. Built a camp on Hancock Pond. Built a 9-hole golf course. His mantra: “This country put a man on the moon;”

DON’T WASTE ANYTHING

He had a sign on the wall at his office at Warren’s Express, the small trucking company he took over from his father in l950: “USE IT UP; WEAR IT OUT; MAKE IT DO.” It was from President Calvin Coolidge. Everything he built was out of scraps left over from some other project;

LEARN TO SMALL TALK

My father took up golf at age 45. Became a golf nut. Used to take me and my brother, Andy, golfing Saturday mornings. He would always let golfers behind us play through. My father would talk with them about the weather, local traffic and community events. People liked him. Twenty years later, I campaigned door to door in politics. Great chats. The weather, traffic and community events;

DON’T GIVE UP

He had a plaque up near his easy chair: “FIGHT, GET BEAT, RISE, AND FIGHT AGAIN.” It was from one of his Revolutionary War heroes. Interesting news to give your 5-year-old – you will lose some in life, buddy. What then?

BE NICE, JUST BECAUSE

The dirt camp road at Hancock Pond was narrow. Dad ALWAYS pulled over, or backed up, to let the other guy get by. Gratuitously nice;

IMPROVE YOURSELF

He quit smoking at age 55. Imagine how hard that was?

DON’T BE PHONY

He told me, as a new lawyer, not to join a particular civic group that I had made fun of. But wouldn’t I get more clients? “But you’ll be miserable.” He said. Glad I listened;

SOMETIMES YOU WON’T BE THANKED

He suggested only one thing when I started practicing law: “Might be nice if you helped the Legion boys out,” He said the Libby-Mitchell Post 76 guys in Scarborough did a lot of good behind the scenes. He was right – helping a guy get a new colostomy bag has been more satisfying than getting $3,500 to help a Wall Street exec beat an OUI he suffered during summer vacation at Prouts Neck;

PENNIES TURN INTO DOLLARS

When I started my law practice, he said: “You’ll bring in plenty of legal fees. But watch how you spend your money.” Good advice. Avoid plush carpets or $2,500 suits;

DO THINGS YOUR WAY

You will fail at stuff. But you’ll sleep better at night if you follow your plan and lose than just doing what other people tell you to do. Dad made it to age 90. No heart attack at age 49 for him.

Good run, Dad. Say hi to Mom for me.

Dan Warren is a trial lawyer in Scarborough. He can be reached by private Facebook message at Jones & Warren, Attorneys at Law, or by email at [email protected]


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