The father of one of my very best friends passed away this week. He was 83. While who he was, what he accomplished, the legacy he left behind and the impression he made on me personally are each significant, I feel it is neither appropriate nor my place to identify him by name. If you'll forgive the pun, I'll call him Max. When you learn how this father, vagabond and world traveler thrived for eight decades, I think you'll agree it fits.

Before Max settled down to father my friend and his younger brother in the early '60s, he had already forged some exciting personal pursuits and colorful career paths. So many, in fact, I'm not sure where to begin…

In the '50s Max bought an Indian motorcycle and rode from Colorado to Canada, then south through Mexico and deep into Central America.

Max realized many dreams in his life, but the business he lived and loved the longest was the gaming industry. At the Cal-Neva in Lake Tahoe, Max entertained high rollers like Marilyn Monroe and Robert Kennedy for Frank Sinatra, one of the owners of that legendary casino. When American gaming became too crass for his taste, Max became a pit boss in Monte Carlo, a position and location he enjoyed for 25 years.

When his young boys spent holiday with him in southern France, Max would entertain them with hot laps around the Monaco F1 Gran Prix circuit. You see, Max was an honorary Monegasque, and citizenship in the the tiny monarchy has it privileges.

After his retirement, Max lived a nomadic life between the home of his eldest son in the bay area, his second son and granddaughter's home in Hawaii, and with a lady friend on the French Riviera. Max kept his visits to these locations lively by taking whistle stops to see friends and family in Southern California, the Rocky Mountains and America's dirty south.

Several years ago my friend and I picked up his father at the San Francisco airport. Max greeted us in a sport coat, a hoodie and dress shirt, a 50-year-old Samsonite suitcase no bigger than a breadbox on the curb by his stylish and well-worn dress shoes. With his fierce silver-haired ponytail resting on his collar and a handlebar mustache exploding across his rosy cheeks, Max looked like the quintessential European jetsetter: dressed tight, packed light, and ready for anything. 

Max's tales from a life thoroughly well lived always inspired me. Thank you for blessing everyone who crossed your path with your wisdom and wit.


(I think Max would have appreciated that last cheap pun very much.)



Jenks said...

I'm really sorry to hear about this... hope our friend is doing OK. Thanks for the nice post, McGoo.

Anonymous said...

Max sounds like he would have been a rad dude to hang out with. Respect.