MARVIN L. STONEThe only word to describe Marvin Stone is "unique." He is six-foot-three, handsome, smart and witty - that's all. When one meets Marvin, one smiles expectantly; in return, Marvin smiles because he is about to deliver a Marvin Stone funny.

When Marvin was president (now the title is chairman) of the American Institute of CPAs, he presided over Council and Executive Committee meetings, where he would sprinkle his repertoire of Johnny Carson-type jokes.

At one Council meeting, Marvin told the story of "Weintraub," a custom tailor whose men's suits were not exactly well-tailored. The right shoulder was too low by three inches - so one had to raise one's shoulder by three inches. "Weintraub's" jacket center buttons protruded by three inches - so one had to hold one's stomach out by three inches.

Marvin Stone told this story with appropriate gestures, which received much laughter and applause. Soon after Marvin's "Weintraub" tale, I had a comment about an agenda item and, to corral a few laughs, I started with, "Mr. President, I'm wearing a 'Weintraub' suit."

I received a few laughs, but Marvin devastated me with, "You look it." I never tried to top Marvin again.

Marvin was senior partner at Stone & Gray, a successful accounting firm based in Denver. When his partner Gerald Gray left the firm to join Marvin Davis, the oil and real estate multi-millionaire, Marvin Stone merged with Coopers and Lybrand in 1977 and established a litigation practice in which he excelled. The merger lasted five years and Marvin continued his litigation specialty. He has received numerous commendations from judges before whom he appeared as an expert witness.

When Marvin and his attractive wife Marian entered a room, all eyes turned to them. She was always elegantly dressed and well-coiffed. They both were avid bridge players; Marian was a duplicate bridge life master, as was Marvin.

At one AICPA Council meeting, Marvin had completed the agenda items by 2 p.m., and in his casual manner asked, "Would anyone like to say something?" There was silence and then I volunteered, "There is a gulf of misunderstanding between the investing public and the accounting profession. Aunt Matilda in Cherokee, Iowa, who owns stock in a public company, reads the annual report and believes that the financial statements were prepared by the independent accountant. Her eyes travel from the name of the accountant to the balance sheet and income statement, and she thinks that the accountant should be responsible for their accuracy. The accounting profession knows and believes that the registrant corporation is responsible for the financial statements."

There was a "gulf of silence" from the Executive Committee, and President Stone said, with a calming smile, "Would you please put your thoughts in writing and send it to the Executive Committee?"

My memo resulted in a meeting of heads of leading accounting firms, at which President Marvin Stone stated that certain firms were soliciting his clients in breach of Colorado State Board ethics rules.

Marvin's professional career was extraordinary. When he took the CPA Examination, he received the Elijah Watts Sells Gold Medal for the highest mark in the nation. He was a member of the board and later president of the Colorado Society of CPAs. He was a member and later chairman of the Colorado State Board of Accountancy.

Marvin Stone turned 86 on Sept. 15, 2007. He continues to lead an active life, travels extensively in the U.S. and abroad, plays bridge, frequently is called on as a litigation case witness and, best of all, he has retained his charm and wit.

What will he do when he is 96?

Eli Mason, CPA, is a past president of the New York State Society of CPAs, a past chairman of the New York State Board for Public Accountancy, and a past vice president of the American Institute of CPAs. He recently wrote Conscience of the Profession - A Personal Journey.

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