Albert E. Cressey III
RIP 8/19/60 – 6/2/19
Albert E. Cressey III
Partner - RIP 8/19/60 – 6/2/19
Mr. Cressey passed away on June 2, 2019 after attending a ball game with his beloved son Evan.
Remembering Chip Cressey
Chip represented a co-defendant in an accounting malpractice case when I met him about twelve years ago, downtown in Central. I admired his advocacy and rapport with his client, and when I saw he was at the Reback firm, which included my old Kirtland and Packard friends Tom McAndrews and Jim Kjar, we used this bridge to form a friendship which enabled me to reconnect with Kjar and the brave new world of a legal practice he was building in this city.
That bridge-building was only the first of many debts I owe Chip. When I joined Jim, Robert and Patrick’s new firm last year, Jim appointed Chip as my sort of big brother and mentor, as I had been a coverage lawyer for decades and professional liability involved some new and dicey turns on the litigation highway that Chip knew like nobody’s business.
Chip’s intellect was formidable, challenging, and sometimes intimidating. In the weeks before we lost him I marveled to Jim at his inventiveness and creativity with certain legal theories; put in to practice, this involved what I can only call a kind of courage, running a cutting-edge, well-reasoned but untested approach to an issue by skeptical judges both on the trial bench and appellate panels. “Intrepid”—having soundness of mind under pressure and out-maneuvering the good minds of your adversaries—that was one of Chip’s favorite words. Chip was intrepid, above all things.
He had been trained in the military as a firefighter, which suddenly made sense to me. He ennobled us with that fearlessness, that ability to run calmly and intelligently—sometimes brilliantly—toward the fire, toward the conflagration. He knew that the truest sign of intelligence was not so much knowledge as it is passion and imagination, that you must never stop questioning and that curiosity has its own reason for existing.
But discussing the professional side of Chip is only scratching the surface---he was the kind of person you relished as a colleague precisely because he was so much more than a lawyer and looked at what we do every day with a healthy, humorous skepticism.
He was nearly as old as me and we had the same demographic. Our fathers had raised us on country music. He knew, as I did, the Grand Ole Opry radio show, the Ryman Auditorium (which he finally visited when at a Nashville seminar), and where to go to get me the pebble I ridiculously demanded from the Nashville recording studio parking lot where Bob Dylan recorded ‘Blonde On Blonde.’ Only Chip could appreciate how important that pebble was. Only he knew how a bit of cultural lint like that could shine in the mind like a talisman, a beacon back into the vast magical landscape of our common pasts.
We talked constantly about our children, both of us having sons named Evan. Chip knew that we live on in our progeny and, like Einstein said, they are the wonderful sap and branches that sway in the sun while we parents drop away like wilting leaves. Evan and his family were everything to Chip. I loved his idiomatics about hockey, Evan’s sport, which Chip really introduced me to.“Got to get Ev out on the ice,” he’d say, turning us down for drinks.“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take;” “I tell him school is important, but hockey is importanter.”
John Updike wrote that nothing and no one belongs to us except in memory. All of you who remember him, and who carry him now to his rest, have these same kinds of memories. I will miss his face at my office door, humming a Grateful Dead melody so obscure he knew only I would recognize it, and waiting to sit down and tell me something that was funny, and wise, and kind, and true.