SFA Inspiration

alan on rock smallerwww.SmilesForAll.com was inspired by and is dedicated first and foremost to Alan.  Appropriately known to his friends as “El Zorro Gris,” or “The Grey Fox,” Alan was the funniest and silliest person I ever met.  Like the sculptor who can turn a lump of clay into a beautiful piece of art, Alan could transform almost any moment into a Milkshake Moment.  Stated simply, he was a master at creating and sharing funny true stories.  You can check out “Alan Stories” here.

Alan had an amazing life, but one that was in no way easy.   A long-time resident of New York, his father died when he was 9-years old.  For all practical purposes, he was then raised by his 12-year old brother.  Alan was devastated when his brother joined the Navy four years later.  Wanting to follow in his footsteps, Alan joined the army when he was 17.  After completing his service, Alan went through school and became a successful attorney.

I had an interest in law that landed me an internship where I first met Alan. Although I was just a teenager and Alan was decades older, he could make me laugh more than anyone I ever met.  I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed his presence.  I quickly learned from first-hand witnesses that he could get any jury laughing.  This was the beginning of a 25-year friendship that I consider one of the special blessings in my life.

Alan ultimately became a judge, and I’m pleased to report that his playful side did not stop when he donned the black robe and sat on high. He delighted in periodically starting a case:

“The plaintiff has given me $10 to rule in his favor.  The defendant has given me $20 to rule in his favor.  I have returned $10 to the defendant and will try the case on its merits.”

But Alan always took his work very seriously.  He heard a large number of appealed cases, taking enormous joy in making sure that folks in need would receive the justice to which they were entitled.

Alan married an amazing woman.  She was over a decade his junior, and he wasn’t above occasionally using their age difference to his advantage.

Not long after they were married, he and his wife went overseas intending to adopt a young child.  However, they fell in love with not one but two children and decided to adopt both.  So moved by his experience, Alan would subsequently go around the world on his own time and dime, securing homes for five more children.  Over the years, many more hopeful parents sought his advice on adoption.

Alan maintained his playful demeanor even when in great pain.  He had a major heart attack in his late 40’s and would gallantly battle cancer for the last two years of his life.  I will never forget the time I spent most of the night talking with him in the hospital. He explained that he always had trouble getting sufficient pain medicine.  Why? Because he was always joking around with the hospital staff, making it hard for them to recognize his level of pain.

In growing close to Alan, I also grew close to his wonderful family.  I continue to feel graced by the ongoing friendship I have with them.  In fact, one of the children he adopted now provides legal, technical, and other invaluable advice to Smiles For All.  Not to mention, he’s a dear friend whose company I so much enjoy.

I miss Alan, and I know so many others do too.  He and his stories left a worldwide trail of smiles and laughter behind him.  From a barbershop in the Middle East to the lap of a mall Santa, to time with his family and friends; Alan was always sharing a funny story or creating a funny situation that could even get The Queen’s Guard laughing.  Through his unique way, Alan was able to build bridges with all types of people.  Hopefully you will enjoy the Alan stories that you can find on this site.

I am proud that Alan called me his friend.  I will always remember with such fondness how much fun I had with him.  I will always respect his compassion, loyalty, and generous spirit.  And finally, I will always be grateful to him for showing me that playfulness and fulfilling the serious responsibilities of a busy life can walk arm in arm.

Alan’s way continues to inspire the Smiles For All dream and mission.  I dedicate www.SmilesForAll.com to him and see any laughter it spreads as a further credit to the beauty that was his life.  The responsibility for any result to the contrary belongs in small part to me but mostly to The Joker, Darth Vader, and The Grinch who stole Christmas (before he turned nice).

The Big Milkshake
February 2013