On the Passing of Paul Volcker

Yesterday, a generation’s torch was extinguished.

Paul Volcker is being remembered as courageous in the face of awesome pressures. He was a smart, badass, fair-minded financier. Those attributes ring true, but I remember him as a powerful friend who cared a lot about fairness and who felt an unusual, sober connection to those who lacked wealth and power.

As he told me, despite all the fancy economic theory and debates (which he witnessed in spades), communities need to take care of themselves, and all of those with resources, especially the wealthy, have a basic responsibility to help. Thus, he came to Trenton numerous times, saw our work firsthand, and became a long term, vital supporter of Isles, and me personally.

A few years ago, Paul and his wife Anke made a $1 million matching pledge to help us cover a critical funding gap for our Social Profit Center. We will celebrate them (and Paul’s father, Paul Sr., a former Teaneck, NJ fair-minded business administrator) with a legacy memorial at the building.

Paul’s influence was personal, not just professional. At times, when I felt that we were not moving fast or far enough in our work (so much un-done!), Paul reminded me of the value of the work itself and the value of exploring and finding our own path, no matter how hard.

Paul had seen so much, yet he cared about us down here in Trenton. He certainly didn’t have to. I am going to miss his courageous voice, friendship and inspiration.