My Buddy

Sat 04/22/06 at 4:40 pm

A few days ago I was awakened by a ringing telephone. The Caller ID began to prepare me for the news. If the person on the other end was indeed Tina, then, it was more likely than not someone we both knew from our days at the firm was dead – it was just a question of whom. Sadly, I was right. I still find it hard to believe it was Ed. He was one of the most physically fit individuals I knew, having, for instance, participated in the La Luz Trail Run at 60. (Heck, he was the only lawyer I knew who had an undergraduate degree in physical education.) The last time I saw him, he was down to 5% body fat and playing golf everyday. That he suffered renal and congestive heart failure is just wrong.

For those of you who don’t already know, Ed was the second-named partner of Sager, Curran, Sturges & Tepper, P.C., the law firm I joined as an associate in 1987 after winding up my clerkship with Justice Mary Coon Walters. He signed his pleadings “Edward T. Curran,” and whenever he did so in my presence, I would hear in my head Tennessee Tuxedo declaring “Edward T. Curran” — which was funny because in contrast Ed had a high, almost lilting voice.

Ed was a good lawyer, and I learned much under his tutelage. You had to earn his respect. I can still remember what seemed like hours (no, now that I think about it, it was hours) sitting across from him being grilled about a particular case only eventually to be asked, “Kristine, did you even read the file?” The turning point for me came when I wrote a coverage opinion which he rejected out of hand, refusing to believe anyone would find insurance coverage under the circumstances. I rewrote it as he requested, but continued to maintain that I was right the first time around. We took the case to trial, and, though a valiant effort was made by the two of us, and I almost convinced the judge to use my version of a jury instruction, which, if read, might have saved the day, we lost for the reason I advised in the first place.

More important, Ed was my friend, or as he once referred to me (and I admit I melted when he did), my “buddy.” What’s unusual about that is I think I can safely say we were near polar opposites. Ed was 26 years my senior (we shared a birthday) and a conservative Republican Irish Catholic. He would, among other things, often make the most tongue-in-cheek sexist quips (and he’d come a long way as I was often told by others who had known him “back then” when such utterances weren’t tongue-in-cheek). I used to say that with Ed, the symbols contradicted. I can honestly say that I never felt he treated me as anything other than a colleague and an equal. Moreover, he was one of the kindest (dare I say, sweetest?) human beings ever, and I adored him.

Ed’s obituary underscores his passion for Notre Dame Football. I, too, can attest to this passion. Indeed, one day we went out for lunch and, before returning to the office, we stopped by the house of one of his friends so he could show me the cap that then-Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz had worn when he coached my alma mater’s Golden Gophers.

Ed retired shortly before I made partner in 1993. He soon after announced the move to Arizona. We saw each other sporadically after that. I’m pretty sure the last time I saw him was in 1996. I had moved back to Minneapolis and he and his wonderful (and I think it’s somewhat accurate to say, long-suffering) wife Barbara came up to attend an Elder Hostel. Barbara had grown up in Minneapolis and I remember spending a wonderful day touring the Twin Cities in search of her roots, including the Hill House in St. Paul. We may have spoken by phone a couple times after that and then, as is so often the case, just lost track of one another.

Last week, the Bar Bulletin contained a Clerk’s Certificate with Ed’s address and phone number. I’m still not sure why, as it really wasn’t new. Nonetheless, it prompted me to want to call and check in. I got as far as actually picking up the phone, but stopped short of dialing the number. I’m not sure if I would have had an opportunity to talk to Ed had I completed the call, but at least it would have still been a possibility.

Unfortunately, my health precludes a trip to the memorial service in Arizona, but my thoughts will be there. I miss my buddy.

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