Sunday, February 23, 2014

Failure Coach XXVII

Victoria Valentine Dies

Alan Edgewater, catching up on his reading in his office at home, opened an A-7 envelop he assumed would be a greeting card or a Thank You note. He removed the card and a newspaper clipping obituary column fell to his desk. The card was from Andrew Valentine. Andrew has written in his mostly block print handwriting in ball point pen this short note. “I just wanted to thank you for your part in the award event at the Missouri Athletic Club in Saint Louis. My parents really enjoyed the evening too.” It was signed, “Andy Valentine” and included a post script, “P.S. I know my Nana would have been proud.”

Alan picked up the obit and focused on the picture of Victoria “Nana” Valentine. He read the tiny type. “VALENTINE, Victoria 85, died September 15 at the Arlington Good Samaritan Center. Ms. Valentine was a patron of the arts and supporter of education. She was well known in the Arlington community as an advocate and volunteer. She traveled widely and was a collector of art. Her eclectic collection includes contemporary works of American Art and forms one of the most significant private collections in the Midwest. She was preceded in death (twelve years) by Harold F. Valentine, a retired engineer from Rubbermaid.”

Alan learned more about Nana Valentine a day or so after the banquet in a phone call from Jan Abbeshire. Jan had taken it upon herself to research Ms. Valentine’s art collection. The art was currently in trust and managed by an auction house in Cleveland and included pieces by Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Keith Harring, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Nevelson and Georgia O’Keefe. A source close to the family reported the collection was appraised in the neighborhood of $80 Million. It was unclear what Ms. Valentine intended to do with the art but clearly, the move involving the auction house was not directed by Nana. The art, and the management of that property, would soon be in probate court. Nana only had one daughter and that daughter was the mother of the second Alan Edgewater Failure First Scholarship award. It appears that he is a very lucky young man with an irrevocable four year college scholarship and the most likely heir to art worth a fortune.     

Alan could not help but laugh. With Coach Robert Siena’s help he started a fund to award an annual scholarship, the first two winners of which were selected by a committee managed by the coach and the Bluestone & Abbeshire agency. As near as Alan could tell, the agency was doing a first rate job managing the fund, the candidate reviews, the award and all publicity. The first winner was hand-picked by the coach. The second was selected from a small pool of candidates proposed by friends of the coach (mostly coaches themselves). It remained to be seen what Johnny Appleseed and Andrew Valentine would do with their scholarships. So far, it looked like an undeclared/undecided major and a talented would be music engineer were going to set the stage for future funding. Jan and Alan agreed that a fair amount of pressure was going to be on the shoulders of these young men.

Johnny Appleseed’s case was settled and basically dropped in a plea bargain thanks to the maneuvering of the lawyer Coach Siena was able to engage in this bit of business. The story pretty much disappeared, much to Jan Abbeshire and Alan Edgewater’s delight. The only media outlet that pressed at all was the St. Louis Business Journal but they seemed to fold soon after the publisher met with Ambrosia Managing Director Tony Blank and executives at the Omnicom Group prior to Ambrosia’s St. Louis Grand Opening ribbon cutting downtown.

As Alan got up from his desk and started started to make his way through his kitchen hallway to the garage he noticed a full color postcard he must have dropped out of the stack of mail, community news and shopping circulars he transported from the mailbox earlier. It was an invitation to a sampling event at the Jack Buck Grill at the Missouri Athletic Club downtown featuring Sazerac Rye Whisky. “The Coach doesn’t miss a trick,” thought Alan. He posted the notice on his refrigerator with a magnet in the midst of a variety of magnets, photos and a small dry-erase board on which he wrote, “Talk to Coach Siena about Christmas Gifts”.       

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