Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Journalist and the Family Reunion

I met a guy at an art opening in St. Louis recently. He was a friend of the artist. He introduced himself as we met in the gallery. “Nice to meet you, my name is Chris Desloge.” Saint Louis being the big small town that it is I offered. “Well that is a name that is familiar to St. Louisans. I knew a writer named Rick Desloge. He was a fine journalist for three decades for the St. Louis Business Journal.” Chris smiled. It was his brother, of whom I was expressing fond memories. (Rick passed away too soon in 2012 at the age of 63.)

“If you knew Rick you will appreciate this story,” he said. “Our family was planning a reunion. I live in Darrien, Connecticut. Many of us had to travel considerable distances to attend this event. We had some big plans the cost of which would be in the neighborhood of $90,000.” The figure was an estimate of travel, food, entertainment, accommodations etc. The family planning committee included Chris, Rick and another relative who was a partner in a top accounting firm, Coopers Lybrand (now part of PriceWaterhouseCoopers).

As the reunion date neared, the committee met to review details. The accountant reported from a spreadsheet that the committee was in the red more than $50,000.  

“You call this a family reunion, I call this fraud!” Rick emphatically insisted. The accountant quickly realized miscalculations on his spreadsheet and the family committee had a good laugh. The Journalist and his outrage, even as good natured as it was, saved the day. The accountant was embarrassed in making a careless error.

The story was a wonderful memory of Rick and also a tribute to the role an investigative Journalist can play in keeping business appropriately transparent with all stakeholders. It is also a reminder that even the most credentialed experts make mistakes.

Special thanks to Chris Desloge for sharing that story in a loving memory of Rick Desloge.
Photo above: Artist Barb Flunker with Chris Desloge.

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