When growing up, our family had a subscription to ReadersDigest. I used to regularly devour each month's selections with one regulardepartment in particular, "My Most Unforgettable Character,"regularly drawing my undivided attention.
The stories contained both funny and touching vignettesof the authors' brushes with people who would likely remain etched in theirmemories for a lifetime.
It wasn't until I assumed the editor's post at AccountingToday that I felt I could pen such a submission and that confidence was usheredin by my introduction to Eli Mason.
Nine years ago Eli cold-called me, introduced himself andwelcomed me to Accounting Today. He then suggested we meet for lunch, where heproceeded to rattle off an unabridged history of the accounting profession andhis early days as a practitioner, while devouring an overstuffed corned beefsandwich in the process. No small feat for someone who stood comfortably southof five-foot-five.
He was at once encyclopedic and relentless when it cameto accounting. He was a natural raconteur, his seven-decade career filled withanecdotes and relationships with many of the giants of the profession includingEmanuel Saxe, Sam Leidesdorf, Joe Lubin, Abe Briloff, John Burton and countlessothers.
Yes, at times, Eli could make a nuisance of himself, andhe wasn't shy about trumpeting his accomplishments. A number of people andorganizations, particularly the AICPA, were often not amused by hisnot-so-sugary columns, which often cast them in an unflattering light.
But no one ever questioned his love or loyalty toaccounting or his considerable philanthropic efforts for his beloved alma mater- Baruch College.
He suffered from eye problems his entire life and whenhis sight finally deserted him, he would simply rest his palm on the nearestshoulder, which usually belonged to his wife and soul mate Claire, forguidance.
I will miss picking up the phone and hearing, "Howyou feeling Bill?" or lunching in his office accompanied by hisreminiscing over past gatherings where accounting history was made.
His lifelong contributions would be far too long to listhere so in an effort to be succinct, I'll simply say everyone past and presentat Accounting Today as well as the entire profession will miss him.
As for me, I'll never look at a corned beef sandwichquite the same way.
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