Nick Forstmann, Rest in Peace
Jude Wanniski
February 5, 2001

 

Memo To: Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Welcoming Nick

I know, I know, there is an awful lot of traffic at the gates of Heaven, Jesus, but I pray that you can take a sliver of time to welcome Nick aboard. Patricia and I have been awfully sad that you decided to call him home when he was still so young, 54, with a wonderful young wife, Lana, and three little kids not yet seven-years-old. If Nick were just another rich kid on Wall Street, we would not have felt so really, really sad, but I think You know he was the sweetest kid on the block. The NYTimes obituary on Saturday reminds us that You had him precede his old mom into your arms. She gave life to such an extraordinary bunch of boys and girls, all of whom Iíve met at one time or another. But Nick was so special. You arranged for his siblings to be tough cookies in a tough world. You arranged for Nick, the little kid in the bunch, to be one of the nicest young men Iíve ever known. In the almost 20 years since we met, he has never, ever told me about the stuff he has done out of the charity in his sweet heart, so I only learned about it in the NYT story of his passing. Thatís the way he was, a good guy who did not need to be showered with praise for his goodness. Now and then he would say something disparaging about someone or other, but I could tell his heart was not in it. He was pretending to be a tough Wall Streeter.

Iíd talked to Nick not long ago knowing there was little chance he would live another year, with the cancer in his lungs creeping north. He was at his desk at Forstmann, Little & Co., which he helped found with his brother. He wanted to talk about politics, to gossip about what to expect from W, about Bill and Hillary. As if he had all the time in the world. When I asked about how he was doing, he invited me into a discussion about chemotherapy, what it was, how it was supposed to work. I learned more about the treatment of cancer in that telephone conversation than I had ever known. I knew Nick because he was one of the earliest supporters of supply-side optimism in the financial world. He and Lana came to our Polyconomicsí conferences in Florida, which is where Patricia got to see what a sweet man he was, up close. How curious that when I got word by e-mail that Nick had just died, Friday morning, Patricia was curled up in bed reading War and Peace. She burst into tears and said Nick had told her a few years ago how he loved being married to Lana, a Russian by birth, who could curl up in bed reading War and Peace in the original Russian. Nick and Lana got married almost eight years ago, a few weeks before Patricia and I did. Weíve not socialized much in these years. NYC and Morristown, NJ are far enough apart for that and they had been busy having children. But we have managed to stay close enough to feel the bonds of friendship.

His death Friday morning has shaken me, Jesus. Iím almost 65 years old and have long ago experienced the passing of relatives and friends who have been older, or peers. And there have been a number of younger friends and relatives who have died young, shaking me to my bones. I suppose that Nickís death has hit me so hard not only because it came from out of the blue to remind me of my own mortality, but because he was so young and athletic and handsome -- a man who took care of himself! A selfless, generous man, again I say, a sweet man. Until he got hit with this, he always looked like he could be in the movies, the leading man who would get the girl. Far more importantly, he was a man who always comported himself in a way that I would assume would find Your favor. A really good guy, a good friend, a good husband, a good father, a good citizen, a good Christian. Please, Lord, take a moment out of your busy schedule, watching over your Creation, and give Nick a special welcome.