This year has gotten off to a horrible start. First David Bowie. Then Glenn Frye. And now Christine Milligan and Richards Barger Christine Milligan was my mother-in-law. She passed away on Sunday from complications of living a very grand life. She would have been 96 in a couple weeks, and she leaves behind a family who loved and adored her. Chris was a true lady. A gritty kind of southern belle who didn’t fit into anybody’s box or stereotype. She shocked her Alabama community by going off to college to Washington, D.C. rather than going to one of the local colleges in Tennessee or Alabama to earn her MRS. When the war broke out, she went to work for the government. She eventually married a returning soldier, who became a doctor, and settled in Newport Beach, CA. In her late 30s and early 40s she finally had her kids. Chris was the best. She opened her beach house to not only me and my kids, when we would invade her quiet sanctity for many a weekend, but she opened her home to my family, and my sister’s family, and their friends. She was a wonderful and gracious woman, and one of the greatest honors I have is to say I was able to make her a grandmother.
The other loss this week was Richards Barger. He was the founding partner of Barger & Wolen (now a part of Hinshaw & Culbertson), one of the best law firms I have ever had the pleasure of working in. Mr. Barger was an icon in the insurance regulatory community. Every conference I attended, every event our firm sponsored, the first question everyone had was, “Is Mr. Barger here?” He had such reverence and respect for the community in which he served. Young or old, everyone knew, adored and respected Mr. Barger. While I was still working at the firm, Mr. Barger continued to come in at least one day a week. I always knew he was there because my in-box would start to fill up with newspaper clippings and articles he wanted to share with me … always with a personal note. We would sit around and talk about the firm, his legacy, his memories, his accomplishments and his regrets. He loved the modern direction law firms were headed in respect to the “business of law,” and wished we had all started this type of thinking decades earlier. It’s been a hard start of 2016 for the music industry, for my family, for my former colleagues, and I am sure many of you. To me it all serves as a reminder that in December, when sitting down for my annual review, no one will every comment, “Wow, Heather worked through every lunch,” or, “I am amazed at how early Heather gets here, and how late she stays,” or, “It really showed team spirit when Heather skipped her kid’s performance to be here for X event,” or, “Heather’s dedication can be seen in every doctor’s appointment she cancelled because something came up in the office last minute.” Mr. Barger was dedicated to his firm and his legacy, but he also knew when to step back. Chris gave her all, always putting everyone’s needs before her own so that they could be better people. They both encouraged me in their own ways to appreciate the moment I was experiencing in that moment. Perhaps it’s because they were from “that” generation, or maybe it’s because they were both incredible people whose legacy will not be a name inscribed on a building, but in the people they touched and in our memories as we try and live up to their ideals.