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Obituary of Bradley Harris Jack
Bradley Harris Jack, once co-Chief Operating Officer of Lehman Brothers, dies at 60.
Brad Jack, a kid from humble means in the Inner Sunset District of San Francisco who rode a winning personality, street smarts and a natural gift for mathematics and sales to the very top levels of finance on Wall Street, died Saturday, February 16th at his home in Westport, Connecticut, after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. Brad passed away peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his wife, Lara, his children Sam, Olivia, Katherine and Will and his older brother, John Jack of Tiburon, California. He was 60.
Bradley Harris Jack was born Sept. 28, 1958 and grew up with his mother (Janet), brother(John), and sister(Sandy), in a two-bedroom flat on Eighth and Irving, where you could feel the N-Judah streetcar rumble by. His father, Ted Jack, was a produce man and his mom was a secretary. Out in the Irish corners of the Sunset, it was said that you could only survive by being tough or funny. Brad was both. He could scrap and fight if it came to that, but any jam he talked his way into he could talk his way out of. He graduated from Saint Ignatius College Prep in 1976. Like any good Irish boy, most of his closest friends were named Kevin, including Kevin Kern who he met at Saint Ignatius freshman orientation, forming a lifelong bond. He then entered UC Berkeley, where he was on the work-study program, logging four hours a day either early in the morning or late at night, with tasks that ranged from typist to janitor to waiter at the Golden Bear Restaurant.
He was a member of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity and the Skull and Keys Honor Society. He saved and borrowed enough money to spend his junior year in France and he came home speaking fluent French and replaced his Sunset-kid uniform of thrift-store flannels and painters' pants with pressed shirts and slacks. Brad arrived in Manhattan in 1981 with a one-way ticket after graduating from UC Berkeley, alone in a city he had never even visited. Everything he owned fit in one suitcase as he checked into the YMCA. His first job was as a proctor in Harlem, making sure nobody cheated on entrance exams. He was then hired to sell commercial paper at Bank of America on Wall Street, and his timing was good for the great bull market of the 1980s. After a few years at Bank of America, he talked his way into a job on the ultra-competitive trading desk at Lehman Brothers, sitting shoulder to shoulder with other traders and yelling into telephones.
In New York, he worked his way out of the YMCA and into a studio in a subterranean walk-down in Chelsea where he got a break on rent in return for working as the building super. He became popular with the neighborhood Italians who still stood at their windows in the early 80s, and he became a regular at Napoli, Raoul's and the Ear Inn. He kept that apartment even after he could afford a better place. He had a mind for bonds and ultimately rose from the trading desk to a corner office as co-Chief Operating Officer of Lehman, a rarity for a person without an MBA or undergraduate degree in economics. He left the firm in 2005 before it became embroiled in the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent bankruptcy. In 1990, Brad moved to Westport, Connecticut and later to Fairfield with his first wife and his growing family, ending up finally back in Westport.
Although his work meant long hours away from his children, Brad instilled an avid love of travel in his children, taking them at young ages on trips to places like Hawaii, Anguilla, Sardinia, Florence, Venice, London, the Galapagos, Disney World, Caribbean cruises, and ski adventures at Stowe. He was a supportive father who deeply cared about his children’s passions like horseback riding for Olivia and Katherine. Brad knew how to enjoy life and taking Will and Sam to Yankees, Patriots, and Vikings games, fly fishing trips to Montana, and sightseeing at the Grand Canyon were highlights for his sons. Just before his 40th birthday in 1998, Brad received his first cancer diagnosis, stage-four adrenal cancer. One of his adrenal glands was removed but he liked to say that he was still hyper as ever, even on half the adrenaline. Every day after work he would drive from Wall Street to Sloan-Kettering Hospital for radiation before driving home to Connecticut. This would keep his cancer at bay for nearly 20 years.
His first marriage ended in divorce and in 2012 he married Lara Cairns. Brad was taken with her Irish brogue and background growing up on The Falls Road in Belfast during the Troubles and in awe of her ability to make every encounter meaningful for everyone she met. They traveled back to Belfast often and in 2008, when the entire McCrory clan happened to be in New York for a family wedding, Brad opened his home to 36 of Lara’s relatives to spend a week. Many of those same relatives will attend Brad’s services this week, a mark of respect and love for someone whose generosity and kindness knew no bounds. Though he never returned to live in his native San Francisco, Brad regularly traveled west to visit friends and family. Brad credited his interest in art and architecture to his mother, who used to drag him to antique shops in the Richmond District in San Francisco.
He spent the last 14 years managing his own portfolio and collecting among other items military maps and paintings from the Revolutionary War and antique magnifying glasses, corkscrews and seagoing suitcase bars from the early landings in America. At 50 he looked 30 and had the memory to go with it. When the cancer returned, he started a grueling second go-round with chemotherapy. He still mustered the energy to keep everyone around him laughing, either at big family dinners or with the other patients in the chemo ward at Yale University Hospital.
His kids and out-of-town friends would join him for the 5-hour sessions and during one he was asked the three attributes that best described him. "Needy and vain," he responded to laughs, "and accusatory." Shortly after Christmas he discontinued chemo and went home to hospice care. His wife Lara cared for him during his last year with love and devotion. He served on the board of the children’s school, Greens Farms Academy, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Julliard School of New York.
Survivors include his wife, Lara, sons Sam and Will, daughters Olivia and Katherine, stepson Jack Cairns, sister Sandy, brother John and wife Susan and their daughters Jennifer (Brian), Kendall and Michelyn.
Calling hours will be held on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 from 4-8 p.m. in the Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post, in Fairfield Center. A Celebration of Life Mass will take place on Thursday, at 11:00 a.m. directly at St. Theresa Church, 5301 Main Street, in Trumbull. All other services will be held privately. To order flowers online, for travel directions, or to sign his guest register, please visit www.LeskoPolkeFuneralHome.com