FaceBook  Twitter

I'll start with a story.  Maybe not too funny at the time, but like a lot of stories it gets better as time passes.  The situation really didn't turn out all that well for us as pledges (Gordie Cox ‘59, George Robertson ‘59, Jim Pearley 60, Dan French ‘59, Bill Gorton ‘60 and me).  As I recall, at that time it was expected that pledges do something outlandish.  We did not want to disappoint....

I don't remember whose idea it was. I know it wasn't George's. George had way too much class to come up with such a nasty idea.  Anyway, we were all on board.  We went to a farm near Ann Arbor, collected some really, really bad stuff, including a dead turkey, and dumped it on the main stairway at the house.  We also took the circuit breakers.  The front stairs were a mess and there was no power.  I think secretly we were admired for having the balls to do what we did. Nonetheless, we paid dearly for doing it.  There was a  special dinner held to “honor” what we did.  At the head of the pledges' table was a basket with some of the “stuff” from the farm, including the dead turkey.  Frankly, I can't remember what our punishment was, but I'm sure it was significant and “appropriate”.  I'm fairly certain that whatever it was, it was prescribed by  Bill Thewalt ‘58.  As pledges, we liked and admired Bill, but this wasn't the highest and best time of our relationship. 

I roomed in the house in the basement with Mike Maguire ‘58.  Mike was a great guy.  Mike took care of the Delta Chi dog  “Henry” during the school year and took Henry home with him for the summer.  He kept the Coke machine full.  Don't laugh, that was important.  What I especially remember is that Mike had an absolutely gorgeous girlfriend. I can't remember her name, or what happened to her, but she was gorgeous.  Mike was great friends with Bill Thewalt “Thee”. I stay in touch with Gordie Cox.  I roomed with Fred Jackson ’59 and Harry Donald ’58 on Ann Street.  I also roomed with Bill Cortright ‘54, Bob Fear ’58 and Bob Quay ’59 at 1234 White Street.  I introduced (fixed up) Fred with his wife Mary Jo (from my hometown of Alpena).  What a great couple they are.  I see them on occasion when they visit Alpena (most recently last summer).  I see Harry every year or so when he visits his son “Hank” in Clarkston.  When I was practicing law in Flint, we lived a couple of blocks from George Robertson.   When I was living in Grosse Pointe, we lived a few blocks from John Broad ‘60.

You only get one life so you should live it the way YOU want to.  That said, advice is never in short supply.  Much of it is good.  However, like financial planing, if you don't execute the plan it doesn't help.  It is a given that all of you are smart guys or you wouldn't be students at U of M or recent graduates.  Success is not about being smart it's about living smart.  I learned early in life when I was working as an engineer for the Navy and attending law school that a 24 hour day is not enough.  Pretty simple, but here's the advice.  You have to recognize (and effectively use) all 168 (7 x 24) hours in a week.  I know weekends are for fun and relaxation, but when you are young and starting out (particularly if you are both working and doing graduate studies) use the weekends to “catch up”. Always start the next week with a clean slate.  Never ever be late.  When I was practicing law I was late once for a trial.  That was once too often.  Learn to say no.  If you make a commitment, honor it.  So many times you make a commitment then when the time comes to honor it (show time) you don't want to do it.  You make up a feeble excuse (lie) that no one believes.  It irreparably damages your credibility.  Having been a lawyer for more than 50 years I don't want to pick on lawyers.  However, I  also was an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for 25 years. I heard some pretty unbelievable excuses. Consider arriving one hour early for work every day, that's every day.  Essentially for my entire working career I arrived one hour early.  My wife Barbara did the same thing.  Do the math.  The normal hours for a working year are 2080 (52 x 40).  If you subtract vacations, sick days and holidays – that's about 30 days (5 weeks).  Over 30 years that's about 3 “extra” years of work.  Trust me, it will pay huge dividends.  I know a lot of you work late.  That's fine. But in my humble opinion arriving early is more effective.  Live below your means.  I learned that from a pilot friend of mine when I was living in Washington.  I know most of you will have successful careers and will make some serious bucks.  That's great.  But in case you don't, try living a little on  the low side.  It will serve you well when you get to be my age.  Lastly, I highly recommend “Make Your Bed”  by Retired Admiral and Navy Seal William McRaven. It's a short read.  I think someone who as a Navy Seal swam 5 miles daily in the dark early in the morning in the Pacific Ocean has a message about discipline that is worth listening to.

My undergraduate degree is aeronautical engineering.   Two law degrees.  Juris Doctor (JD) - Catholic University Law School and Master of Laws in Labor Law (LLM)  – Wayne State University Law School.

I had a bifurcated engineering/law career.  For those of you who are too young to remember, there was still a military draft in the early sixties.  I was drafted and spent 2 years on active duty in the US Army @ White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico working on the Shillelagh Anti Tank weapon system project.  My first “real” job was as an aeronautical research engineer @ the David Taylor R & D Center in the Washington, DC suburbs.  I started law school at the same time. I worked primarily on VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) and WIG (wing-in-ground effect) aircraft research projects.  If you Google Gary W. Brasseur VTOL and/or WIG. you should find abstracts of research publications I authored or co-authored. I also worked in applied aerodynamics (performance) for the Naval Air Systems Command HQ.  This was the era of transition from slide rules to computers.  Great time to be an engineer.  I had a great experience working with the Royal Navy when the British purchased 182 Phantom F4s from McDonnel Aircraft.   I enjoyed spending time with the Royal Navy pilots (our Navy pilots too).  Most were golfers.  I was just starting to golf – nowhere in their league.  Their favorite American – guess who – Arnold Palmer.

My first legal job was as a Assistant Special Prosecutor on the staff of a  Grand Jury Investigation of the Michigan State Highway Department. This was a 1-man grand jury, not a citizens grand jury, as provided under Michigan law.  As Gordie Cox would probably say, the investigation was a “pee wee” version of the huge special counsel investigations that take place in Washington. Regardless of the size, the investigation format is essentially the same.  For Michigan, this was a very serious matter.   About a year earlier I had finished law school, passed the Michigan Bar and flew out to Michigan to be sworn in as a member of the Michigan Bar. After years of long hours working and attending law school I was enjoying life in Washington, improving my golf game and (on occasion) thinking about my long term future plans.  I decided to fly out to Michigan just to see what the potential was for lawyers.  For whatever reason, the day before I was going to fly back to Washington, I decided (I really don't know why) to visit the State Bar Office in Lansing. 

I spoke with the Executive Director, Emery Freeman. He had just received a call from the Special Prosecutor, Leo Farhat, who was looking for a lawyer with an engineering background..  He called Leo (former Ingham County Prosecutor – later President of the State Bar).  Trust me, Leo was definitely a heavy weight lawyer selected for the appointment as the special prosecutor. (The Robert Mueller of Lansing at the time.)   I was invited for an interview – Now!.   Leo and the Grand Juror, Circuit Judge Marvin Salmon, had a lot of questions, mostly about my trial and court experience – which was zero.  They must have been impressed with my background; military service, aerodynamic research, etc., because I got the job.  In today's legal employment environment it would be unthinkable to hire someone like me for that position.  No resume, no transcripts, no recommendations, no political  connections, no references, no experience.  I had a very steep learning curve on the fly, but the transition from engineering to law worked out very well for me.  Leo became my mentor and a lifelong friend.

I practiced law in Flint (with other offices in Oscoda and Montrose) for several years. I initially practiced with Chuck Mosier, Harry Donald's '68 brother-in-law.  I had met Chuck years earlier when I was dating Harry's future sister-in-law, Shari Mosier.  During those years I married Barbara and our three children were born.  In my spare time I commuted to Detroit to complete my master's degree in labor law. My labor law degree paved the way for my appointment as a Workers' Compensation Administrative  Law (ALJ).  Great experience. In 1971 I went with a group of lawyers to Washington to be sworn in at the US Supreme Court.  Senator Phil Hart, a real gentleman and great host, moved for my admission to the Court. I had visited the court years before while in law school.  Our constitutional law class was invited to have coffee and danish at the Court  with  Associate Justice Thomas Clark.  Justice Clark was a personal friend of our professor.

I was appointed as a Workers' Compensation Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in 1977. There were 38 judges.   I was elevated to one of 4 senior judges a few years later.  I enjoyed my position very much.  I started doing the Annual State of the Law in Workers' Compensation and seminars for the Institute of Continuing Education (ICLE).  We had a nice (old but nice) home in Grosse Pointe.  Our kids were in the great Grosse Pointe School system.  Barbara was teaching at several colleges in the metro area.  Life was  good.  Not perfect, but good. I would have been happy to finish my career as an ALJ.  Unfortunately, as we all know, that's not the way life works.  The Michigan Legislature decided that the Workers' Compensation ALJ position was too important to be in civil service.  We were neither elected nor politically appointed.  The Legislature passed legislation eliminating the ALJ position and created a 30-member Workers' Compensation Board of Magistrates to be appointed for 4 year terms by the governor. I was in my late forties with a wife and three kids, a nice mortgage and no job.  Not a good situation.  Fortunately, even though I was not politically connected I was appointed by Governor Blanchard to a four year term.

I very much appreciated the appointment by Governor Blanchard but I was looking for more job security than a series of political appointments.  After a couple of years I managed to reenter the civil service system with the Michigan Department of State.  After being a Senior ALJ and Senior Magistrate for years, I accepted a position to be in charge of the Driver License Appeal Office in Southfield.  It was a little tough on my ego, but I managed.  A couple of years later I secured  an appointment as the senior ALJ with the Department's Bureau of Legal Services.  This was a great position.  I heard matters involving campaign finance, historic preservation, automotive regulation, etc.  The Department of State is very highly computerized.  At Driver License Appeals I did my opinions on a stand-alone pc with a floppy disc.  Believe me, the best was yet to come.  In my new position I was connected to the Internet with (almost) unlimited access to WestLaw. WestLaw is very expensive.  From the beginning of my law practice, through my years in Workers' Compensation I had been dictating pleadings, correspondence, opinions, everything.  For anyone who has made the transition from dictating to using a computer with the ability to visualize your writing on a screen in real time you will know what I mean.  As an old engineer who started working with computers in the early sixties this was deja vu all over again.  It was heavenly.  I remember reading somewhere that Supreme Justice David Souter wrote his opinions on a legal pad until he retired.  With all due respect to Justice Souter, that doesn't cut it.  Writing on a computer with the entire legal system at your finger tips is just – there is just no other way to describe it, it's “fantastic”.  I do miss it.  Conducting trials and hearings with lawyers is always a challenge.  I enjoyed that too.  Lawyers are very creative.  No trial – no opinion to write. Near the end of my career I was invited to become the Department's Director of Compliance and Rules.  That was my last position before iI retired.  That's it.

I have been married to Barbara for 48 years.  We have 3 kids and one grandson.  Barbara is a Spartan.  Barbara's career was as an adjunct college instructor.  Our oldest daughter, Michelle (married to Michael), also a Spartan, lives in Dexter.  She is a banker.  Elizabeth, another Spartan (grad studies @ U of M) was a special ed teacher for many years. She is now a special ed coordinator.  She lives in Marshall.  Our son Andrew, US Marine Corps/Grand Valley State University, is in real estate sales.  He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, Nickie, and son Landon.  Landon is our only grandchild and a real joy in our life.  Pets have been an important part of our life.  Boston terrier: Toby.  Three pugs:  Oliver, Wendell and Holmes.

I equate pride to success. All-in-all, especially considering my humble beginnings in Northern Michigan, I am proud of my engineering and law degrees, my memberships/admissions to the Michigan Bar (50 years), US Supreme Court (47 years) and America Mensa Limited (36 years – I joined to prove the point that I was eligible for membership - but have enjoyed being a member for many years.)  I am also proud of the seminars and State of the Law in Workers' Compensation publications and presentations (in the 1980s) that I did for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE).  I'm proud of my work as an Administrative Law Judge (different titles and different venues – but essentially the same type of position for 25 years)  Among other things, I consider how infrequently I was reversed on appeal as a measure of success. Proud also of being an assistant prosecutor.  Lastly, I'm proud of my military service and my work as an engineer for the US Navy.  That said, my personal accomplishments, whatever they are, pale in comparison to the pride I feel as a parent seeing my three kids graduate from college and pursue their careers.  When our youngest, Andrew, walked down the isle with his sheepskin in hand, I had tears in my eyes and that great feeling of “mission accomplished”.   When I'm gone, whatever I did or didn't do will go with me.  My children will live on for another generation.  They are my real success, my legacy.  Nobody likes to tell about their failures – so I won't.  Believe my, like everybody else, I've had my fair share.

Over the years we have had nine homes.  Five in Michigan, a townhouse in Wilmington, North Carolina and three places in Green Valley, Arizona.  We now divide our time between Lost Lake Woods, MI and Green Valley, AZ.  We have made several trips to Europe and taken a few cruises.  We have visited 42 states.  The last eight are on my short bucket list.  We have driven back and forth across our great Country so many times that I long ago lost count.  I don't know how much energy or appetite for travel is left in the tank.  As President Trump would say, we'll see. I think our “house thing” is definitely over. If you love our country as I do you should not be surprised that my favorite place to visit is Mt. Rushmore. My late father was a realtor in Alpena who worked until he passed away at age 78.  It was great to just hang out with him whether it was looking at property, having a beer together or whatever.  I remember when he was in his middle seventies he told me that he didn't feel old.  I reached 80 last September.  I'm too heavy.  I have a significant hearing loss.  I will never get my golf handicap back to 14.  But I don't feel old.  I plan to be around for a while to see our grandson grow up.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

4191 N. Ash Road
Lincoln, MI 48742