The Passing Of A Legend

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I was saddened last week to learn of the death of Alan Abelson, long-time editor of Barron’s.  Although I fell from the ranks of subscribers years ago, I have for many years enjoyed picking up the magazine when I would happen upon it and quickly reading Alan’s Up and Down Wall Street column.  It would invariably prove entertaining – and usually education if he were writing about broad market themes rather than individual securities.

Alan had a droll wit and regularly directed heavy doses of sarcasm toward purveyors of Wall Street’s common wisdom.  He recognized and criticized the tendency of investors and advisors alike to fall in love with whatever had been moving aggressively upward.  And he wielded an especially derisive pen toward marketers of securities products with unsound valuations.  Those who read Alan’s columns over the years came away with a comprehensive understanding of sound investing principles.

Relatively early on in my investment career, I had the good fortune to get to know Alan.  Having founded Marathon Asset Management Co.–now a part of Mission Management & Trust Co.–in the mid-1980s, I was in my first years as a Registered Investment Advisor.  Alan came across one of my articles and published it in Barron’s.  Writing essentially for Marathon’s clients, I was surprised that my work had attracted the attention of one of the preeminent scribes in the world of financial journalism.  Only later did I learn from others far more familiar with the difficulty of getting published how fortunate I was to have been published nationally early in an investment career and without a publicist.

I met Alan only once in his New York office, but we interacted by phone from time to time.  He quoted me in his column occasionally, once sent a photographer and interviewer to my La Jolla office and even saw fit to put me on Barron’s cover page one week.  His belief in the president of a young company lent Marathon a credibility that helped us to grow.  It is with appreciation, respect and sadness that I note his passing.