Eulogy for Mitchell Todd Wurschmidt b. September 18, 1978 d. February 26, 2014
By: Todd Neil Wurschmidt, PhD, Mitchell’s Dad
At the request of: Crystal Kay Taylor Wurschmidt, Mitchell’s loving wife Married September 1, 2001 at Oglebay, Wheeling, WV
Delivered at: St. Mark Lutheran Church, 141 Kruger Street, Wheeling, WV, 11:00 AM EST, Monday, March 3, 2014
Crystal, thank you for offering me this great, grand honor to offer words in eulogy for our beloved Mitchell Todd Wurschmidt: your husband, Crystal; and Suzanne and my oldest of two sons. I am not certain how one can simultaneously, in parallel, experience the enormous extremes along this powerful continuum of human emotions. To have occasion to offer this Eulogy is on-the-one-hand the greatest Honor ever bestowed to me, and yet at the other extreme, the greatest Sorrow Suzanne and I have ever had to bear. We take our next breath; we walk our next step so very much as a result of the love and company each of you are sharing with us today, and so many of you and others who have connected these past few days. Silence and being alone are deafening. Since this past Wednesday, family and friends have silenced this silence, and filled our souls with love and affection. Your gifts of love for Mitch, Crystal, Austin, Owen and Jude are filling a deep void, and providing us the energy and sustenance that lets us know we must keep going.
If you would please permit me, I thought I must get this out at the start of my thoughts. To be absolutely certain, I hold deep anger. On a couple of clearly defined fronts, I firmly believe with conviction that Mitch died needlessly. There, it’s out. Please forgive me, but I am aware that in the years ahead, Eulogies often serve as written record of an individual’s life. Today, our thoughts, feelings, and memories are fresh. Words are recorded and thus, perpetually available for re-review in the decades ahead. I had to make this but one, singular, brief footnote.
Now promptly and properly we move to our true reasons for gathering here today: to CELEBRATE Mitch; to HONOR Mitch; to willingly compound our shared sense of LOVE for Mitch; and to conjure and share ENDLESS INSPIRING MEMORIES of Mitch. Were I to ask each of you to stand and share but one of your beautiful memories of Mitch, we could spend the next hours and hours smiling, laughing, and crying together. We would together architect and build a Cathedral of Memories of Mitch using all of our individual moments of time we each shared with Mitch. Your personal memories would be shaped by the very special angle of interaction you individually internalized with this great Man as Mitch lived his impressive life.
Given Mitchell’s chosen line of occupation, I thought I might note how so many of us have made our long-term, heavy investments in helping Mitch become the great man, husband, father, son, brother, friend, and worker he was. We sure did earn a priceless return on our investment! So many words have been offered, but as I move from the “Buy Side” of investing and ROIs to the “Sell Side,” let me share but a tiny sampling of words offered by Mitch’s Peers who earn their livings as Securities Analysts. These are folks who spend their living analyzing the overall quality of companies and people. To Austin came their analytical summations:
From Akshay Jagdale, a Vice President with KeyBanc Capital Markets in New York City came, “I will always remember Mitch for his kindness and loving nature. He was one of the best people I have ever come across in our business. I feel honored to have spent time with him. He truly made people around him better.”
Kerner Smith, Managing Director & Head of Sales for DISCERN Investment Analytics wrote, “I worked about 50 feet from your brother for 10 years, and had been speaking to him weekly over the last several. What an awesome, laid back dude. I admired that his personality never changed despite moving into a higher stress (and often high strung) environment. We did a lot of work together at Key, and I watched him grow into a really impressive analyst with a passion for the Energy sector. I know the good memories are the ones that will live forever.”
Many of you may not have known that Mitch earned an enormous honor in May 2011 from the Wall Street Journal. A month earlier, Mitch called me while I was working in the St. Louis area. Mitch quietly but excitedly shared, “Dad, I was just interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, and I might be recognized as one of the top stock pickers for 2010. Dad, it’s no big deal, and it may not happen, but I wanted you to know.” You see, the Wall Street Journal selects the top five Master Stock Pickers for each of the stock sectors, and in May 2011, Mitch was recognized as number 3 in the United States for the Oil and Gas Producers’ Sector. Suzanne and I could not have been prouder! Yet, Mitch told me repeatedly, “Dad, it’s no big deal, and the guys on the ‘Buy Side’ even laugh at the idea.” To this Dad, it was a great, big deal. It was but one more indicator at how hard and passionate Mitch dedicated himself to his work. I will share a couple of more thoughts and thanks to KeyBanc in a moment.
Mitchell Todd Wurschmidt was born on September 18, 1978 in Columbus, Ohio. Mitchell was Suzanne and my first son. Coming home from Riverside Hospital, I stopped our car and asked Suzanne to roll down her window, and hold our beautiful baby boy up to the open car window. I wanted to photograph Mitch and Suzanne seated in front of the sign entering our Village of Plain City, established in 1818. This was Mitch’s first entrance into this wonderful rural Village located at about 11 o’clock on the outerbelt outside of Columbus, Ohio. The Village of Plain City is where Mitch would grow through his boyhood and teenage years.
As Mitch and Crystal prepared for their 2013 Christmas and Holiday travel plans from Chatham, NJ, Mitch told me once again, “Dad, I just want to come home. I don’t get home often enough. I love to come home. I just want to schedule time to come home.” And to Suzanne and my blessing, for the first time in several years, Austin and his wife, Megan, and Mitchell, Crystal, Owen, and Jude ALL made it home for Christmas…..at the same time! For us, this was priceless!
Within five minutes of arriving, Owen came into our living room, and immediately asked, “Papa, where’s the train?” Aren’t great memories so special, even for our five year old Grandson Owen? Papa (that’s me) promptly went to the Carriage House 2nd floor to recover Owen’s train. To be honest, Papa hadn’t remembered “the train,” but Owen surely remembered our living room wasn’t complete at Christmas without that train. CiCi (that’s Suzanne) continued settling everyone into our home for our most special 2013 Christmas celebration together. Mitch had made it home! Mitch loved his home. Mitch loved Plain City with his Amish buggy loads of special childhood memories and friends. For years, Mitch held the record for total tips while waiting tables at our area renowned Der Dutchman Restaurant. Mitch loved New York City, but Mitch let me know he felt blessed to have been raised in our warm small community of Plain City, Ohio.
As we parents do, we invested heavily into the growth and maturity of our Mitch. Reading each night at childhood bedtime, we repeatedly read: Hop on Pop; Green Eggs and Ham; Horton Hears a Who; The Cat in the Hat; Oh, the Places You’ll Go!; and many, many more stories.
Dr. Seuss wrote, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” I smile and chuckle; our Mitch did so very much “stand out”!!! Talk about an ROI for this Mom and Dad!
Dr. Seuss authored, “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” Ah, Dr. Seuss knew Mitch had met Crystal; on Spring Break in Florida’s Panhandle…..and fallen deeply in love!
And, Dr. Seuss penned, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.” Once each year, I had Mitch, and then later Austin, travel with me on one business trip for that year. I wanted my sons to be eager to see the world and our fabulous experiences of witnessing variations in places, peoples, and cultures. As a young boy, Mitch traveled with me: to San Francisco; to Tulsa, Oklahoma; to Portland, Oregon; to Seattle, Washington; and many, many other places. This investment cemented genesis of Mitch’s mindset that grand places like New York City would be wonderful locale for a new home to live and work. Mitch was comfortable in big places.
Early in their marriage, Crystal and Mitch agreed whichever of them got a job first in New York City, the other would follow and make effort to find a job. Crystal won! No surprise. Crystal landed a wonderful opportunity with Tommy Hilfiger in New York City, and later Cole Haan. As promised, Mitch dutifully and eagerly followed…..albeit unemployed. And as but one more example of this entrepreneurial energized fellow, Mitch secured his first Manhattan job while studying employment ads in a Manhattan book store. Mitch was seated adjacent to a gentleman interviewing another young man about being a stock security analyst with Thompson. As the gentleman finished his interview and was readying to leave, Mitch introduced himself and asked if they could talk. Mitch secured his first job in the securities industry following that encounter. This was a serendipitous encounter indeed, but bolstered by the decisive, methodical, focused action of our Mitch.
I must extend a heartfelt thanks to Bill Summers. Bill was the profoundly successful CEO of McDonald Investments in Cleveland, Ohio, and a member of the New York Stock Exchange’s Board of Directors. Bill was serving as a Volunteer in a statewide philanthropic organization I was running. Bill introduced Mitch to Mr. Jack Aydin. Wow!!! Talk about an Investment Team that would produce profitabilities! For the first 15 months or so, Jack intensely tested Mitch. Was this Guy made of the stuff to prosper in the Wall Street environment? At the end of that testing, Jack Aydin embraced Mitch dearly and deeply. When I called Jack this past Wednesday morning to relate our tragic news, Jack quickly shared, “I loved Mitch like a Son!” And, we knew that for certainty. We had known that from many years. Jack asked me for Mitch and Crystal’s home address in Chatham, and said he was picking up his Son and driving directly to see Crystal. As part of our Family, Jack wanted to be there for Crystal, Austin, Owen, and Jude. In the deepest times of tragedy, it is our Family and Friends who instinctively want to offer a prayer, a hug, a hand in desperate hope they can do something, anything to ease the pain.
Jack Aydin, I cannot tell you how much you meant to Mitch, how much you mean to Austin, and how much you mean to Suzanne and me. Until this time in Wheeling, I have never even met you in person. I’ve been in your Manhattan office with Mitch. You weren’t there. I have talked to you a couple of times by phone. But, I am so relieved to have finally met you, and shaken your hand, Sir!
Jack, I had a very special Colleague; a Professor at The Ohio State University. Professor Clair Young traveled internationally, spoke at least two foreign languages, and initiated the opening of international travel for the organization I was serving as CEO. Professor Young gave me this very simple, sage counsel, “No matter where you travel across the globe, and if you do not know the language, at least learn how to say ‘Thank you’.” Saying “thank you” is appreciated by all in any language. Thus, I became sensitized to each countries’ local word for “Thank you.” And so, Jack Aydin, I say to you, Sir, “Merci beaucoup. Muchas gracias. Madloba. Obrigado. Xiexie. Shukran. Arigato. Salamat.” And finally, in the language of your Turkish birthright, “Tesekkurler; Tesekkur Ederim.” We have been blessed having you serve as Guardian Angel to both of our Sons.
And, before I move from recollections on KeyBanc, I extend a special message of appreciation to Ms. Nancy Benacci, KeyBanc Headquarters’ Director of Equity Research. As I understand, Director Benacci oversees KeyBanc’s Manhattan office from KeyBanc’s headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. Nancy expressed her support to Austin writing, “My heart just breaks for you and your family. We are all devastated. Mitch was so loved by everyone here. Please tell Crystal and your parents that we will keep all of you in our prayers. We are here to help in any way possible.” In Director Benacci’s 2nd note to Austin, Nancy shared, “Austin, just checking in to see how you are doing. Please take as much time off as you need – work should not be a concern for you at this time. We all just want to help in whatever way we can. (Now get this as Nancy continued,) I gave a tribute about Mitch at the beginning of our combined Trading Call – Morning Call today and talked about how much a wonderful Associate and Senior Analyst Mitch was for us and how well loved he was by all. There was no doubt how much he has touched all of us.” Wow! That’s special; leadership and caring from KeyBanc’s Corporate Headquarters via Nancy, and from KeyBanc’s Manhattan office via Jack. And, Mitch had not even worked for KeyBanc for nearly three years. This is a business that knows how to work hard, articulate lofty service goals, but also keep paramount their greatest asset, the caring of their people.
Now lest you think everything was always great raising our Mitch, permit me to pass along a couple of examples of life lessons. As we say, these are “teachable moments.” Any of you with grown children can relate. And, for those of you raising small children, we wish you well. In due time, you will be able to relate.
Mitch got his license close to his 16th birthday. Not long after, Suzanne called me after Mitch had called her, “Mom, I’ve had a fender bender.” I arrived in front of Jan and Tony’s Pizza building on Main Street to find Mitch seated in the police cruiser, and our Volvo sedan totaled. “Fender bender?” As designed, the Volvo front end totally collapsed with repair not an option. The newly licensed Mitch was driving solo along Main Street after school, turned to wave proudly to a classmate, and plowed into the back end of the car ahead.
Perhaps a year earlier, I received a very late phone call from the Plain City Police Department asking, “Would you please come down and pick up your son, Mitch?” It seemed Mitch and his good friend with easy access to the local grocery store, had secured a six pack of beer. Mitch and his friend were on a local front lawn intending to impress some local girls; they had not even popped a top. Mitch was assigned “community service” sweeping Main Street in full public view of the local populace. Ay but another in what was thankfully a short list of “teachable moments.” These are the occasions we parents and investors in people use to reinforce our learning about ethics, boundaries, and maintaining integrity. Mitch so grandly internalized these highest value standards.
Austin was born five years after Mitch. I always said Suzanne and I planned that so I could have more years of boys mowing our lawn; not really; it just happened. But Austin being five years younger only provided Mitchell an opportunity for he and his friends to pick on and pound on Austin. Austin not only never minded, but always wanted to be in the midst of Mitchell’s and his friends’ company whenever possible. Austin had his wide circle of great friends and his sports, but Austin never tired of being close to Mitch. Thanks to Jack Aydin, Austin was invited to serve the first internship ever available in KeyBanc’s Manhattan office. And, before Austin returned to OSU in the fall of his senior year, Austin was offered a job with KeyBanc in New York City once he graduated three months later. Mitch and Austin would be living close near each other once again.
Austin served as Mitch’s Best Man at Mitch and Crystal’s wedding at Oglebay Park on September 1, 2001. Mitch served as Austin’s Best Man 11 years later, at Austin and Megan’s wedding in Pittsburgh on August 25, 2012. For Mitch and for Austin, there existed no other, possible options. Mitch and Austin were profoundly best of worldly friends. Their bonds of blood had only grown stronger over the years, and their times together were always very, very special. This past Friday, Austin was helping Crystal with family personal matters. Austin glanced at Mitch’s iPad, and the last Google search Mitch ever did was a search on Austin Wurschmidt! That is the stuff of great brotherhood!
Dr. Seuss said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” For now, neither the questions nor the answers are simple! What a great life lived! What a great life lost! In talking by phone with Crystal this past Thursday morning, Crystal summed so well, “Mitch always gave 110%. Mitch gave 110% as a husband. Mitch gave 110% as a father. Mitch gave 110% as a brother. Mitch gave 110% at work. Whatever he did, Mitch gave 110%!” How so very true, Crystal. By any measure of financial success, Mitch was greatly successful. But, for Mitch, financial success was but one measure of success, and a measure that fell down the list of Mitch’s many success priorities. Mitch gave 110% at all, and Mitch gave 110% to all.
Most importantly, Mitch was a great father……to Owen and Jude. Mitch so loved his wife and his two sons. Mitch and I would talk many Saturday mornings. In the background was Mitch interacting with Owen while Owen was rock climbing or running around with his young friends. Mitch and Owen became legendary for assembling their Lego kits while seated on the floor of their Hoboken and then their Chatham homes. I do not care what time of day or night it was, when Owen asked Dad to help him put together a Lego, Mitch always replied, “Sure.” Daddy Mitch never, ever hesitated, although I guess he did mention to Austin that he wish people would start buying the Lego kits with maybe a total of 30 big pieces.
I literally never witnessed a finer Mother and Father than Crystal and Mitch. Crystal and Mitch were so caring and so attentive to their beautiful boys, Owen and Jude. It was no surprise about Crystal – Suzanne and I have come to know Crystal’s Mother, Father, and The Taylor Family. Jim and Debbie Taylor have been the greatest supporters of Mitch, Crystal, Owen, and Jude. We are so relieved and comforted that Jim and Debbie are here now in Crystal’s greatest time of need. And Crystal – Suzanne and I are and will always be here for you, Owen and Jude. We love you all deeply.
Every Family has their traditions. Family traditions are so important. One tradition Mitch and I had in his earliest years was him sitting on my lap with our one block ride to the sitter’s, as Suzanne was working in our early years. Once Mitch was comfortably seated on my lap in our burgundy van, I would sing my only authored and never published song, “Bird on a wire/ Sittin’ higher and higher/ He’s singin’ a song/ He’s flying along. He’s got nowhere to fly to/ No one to talk to/ So he just sits and sings/ He’s a bird on the wings.” It wasn’t much, but to Mitch and me, it was our morning ritual in those youngest years.
One of our most precious Family traditions was my reading The Night Before Christmas as Mitch and later Austin went to bed on Christmas Eve. When Suzanne and I were with Mitch and Crystal in their Hoboken home at Christmas time in a recent year, Mitch asked me if I would read The Night Before Christmas to Owen and Jude. Owen got seated on my lap. And so, as my gift to Owen and Jude and in honor of Mitch, please indulge me as I would like to read Owen and Jude but three stanzas, the first two and the last:
“’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children (Owen and Jude) were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap…..
“When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter……….
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick……
“He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like a down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
‘Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
We now say “Good night” to our beloved Mitchell. Owen asked his Mommy last Thursday, “Mommy, can we take an airplane to Heaven and see Daddy?” Don’t you just wish that was possible? It would be a miracle Owen, if you and Papa could put together a Lego plane so we could do just that! Always remember Owen and Jude, we will eternally keep Daddy in our heads and in our hearts. We will always remember Daddy and the wonderful Man that he was to all he encountered. We are each better for Mitch having touched our lives. Our prayers of peace are offered to our Mitchell Todd Wurschmidt. Rest in peace my beloved Son!