In Memoriam for Old Vet

written by cactus and Emily Trader

One of the advantages of participating in a blog community is to read the variety of voices that also participate. This blog not only has a stable of writers (which has changed over the years), but it also has a number of regulars who leave comments (or send e-mail to the writers now and again!) and rarely, if ever send in a “main post.” In many ways, these people are the heart and soul of the blog community; if those regulars, through their comments, keep the writers honest and enforce intellectual rigor, the blog’s output improves, and it becomes a place worth visiting. If there are no such regulars, or they are willing to tolerate nonsense, often the result will be garbage.

Angry Bear is a very good blog, in my opinion, and if my opinion is correct, it is because we have those regulars who keep the rest of us (and I admit – I’m not as active these days as I was a year or so ago) honest and rigorous. We at Angry Bear have lost one such regular, with the passing, not long ago, of OldVet. His name will be familiar to you if you’re a long time reader; he contributed comments for years, and also produced a number of guest posts.

OldVet passed away on October 11 from liver cancer, a relic of the hepatitis he picked up while serving his country in Vietnam. His wife, Emily, wrote that he

kept his sense of humor to the end, and did not really suffer. He also got to vote absentee 2 days before he died. Of course it’s very sad he’s not here to see Obama inaugurated, and had missed all the market turmoil the last few months. He would so have enjoyed following these markets.

Emily also wrote the next few paragraphs.

In Memoriam for OldVet: Donald Paul Trader

NPR recently quoted Lincoln as saying “And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Donald Trader, aka “OldVet” died of liver cancer at the age of 62 on 11 October 2008 in Columbia, Tennessee. Donald was a frequent contributor to AngryBear after his retirement, but his years were filled with life.

Ever precocious — he graduated high school at 16 in Savannah Georgia. He was a military intelligence officer during the Vietnam war, earned an international degree at Georgia State University and studied at the London School of Economics. Later he was a Sky Marshall in the government’s skyjacking prevention program. From there, his varied career took him to the State Department and the Department of Commerce as a Foreign Service Officer and Commercial Counselor. He would serve in Haiti, Germany, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.

He had a falling out with Reagan administration over supporting dictators (he didn’t) and enjoyed the Flower Power Revolution of 1986 in Manila, after which he was kicked out of the U.S. government. He would return after several years as a marketing consultant. Donald spent his final career years as a Senior Economist with the Department of the Treasury where he saved taxpayers many millions of dollars before retiring in 2006.

His wide experiences and keen intellect gave him a unique perspective on life and those around him. Donald was an artist and a writer. He loved his family, his country, good books, the arts, the sea, and stimulating conversation. He did not suffer fools. In his quiet moments he enjoyed sitting on his porch admiring the 200 trees he and Emily planted. Donald’s generosity, wry sense of humor, and his ability to create excitement and consternation everywhere he went will be greatly missed by those who knew him.

In closing I leave you a Don quote:

“When you bring your head up out of your computer and quit yakking on the phone, you find life happening all around you. Change is good.” Bella, the subject, tried to “kill him” last summer (I’ll spare the details), but also “stole his fucking chicken”. The chicken story is good. Don was not supposed to have fried foods or salty foods. I was out of town at a convention. Don had honchoed the replacement of our kitchen floor with wood floors – workmen hammering, singing (different songs), and radio for days. When it ended he drove the 12 miles and back to get a 2 piece dinner at KFC. He fixed a plate, glass of tea, and set it on the sofa end table while he went to get in his lounge/PJs to be comfortable. When he came back his chicken breast was gone – and he saw Bella had it. He chased her (and she is elusive) until he got the breast away.

To this I would add: OldVet could discuss all sorts of things, from details of transfer pricing regulations to Brazilian literature. And when he was writing about something I knew something about, I could tell you with certainty – he knew what he was writing. I imagine the same must be true of when he wrote about other topics.

I’d also like to add something OldVet wrote almost two years ago:

While neither an alarmist nor a pessimist by outlook when it comes to the US economy, I’ve been reading a whole host of warnings lately. (Disclosure: There are many places to turn for opinions and you can always find some that agree with your beliefs. I’m frankly very concerned and very “short” all equity markets for now.) These warnings either focus on (1) how the changed nature of mortgage lending in the last several years is leading to a mortgage market contraction, (2) to warnings that risk generally has become mis-priced by investors in broader markets. I’ve been disturbed to note that some $57 billion was quietly flung into the financial markets by the Fed and the Treasury Department in the last two days of last week through short term lending operations.

I’d also like to share this cartoon OldVet drew. Regular readers may recall that when he provided a main post to Angry Bear, he usually also provided some artwork to go along with the narrative.

Emily tells me the story behind the cartoon is this:

The post goes on, giving a lot reason for concern, concern that it is a pity many people who should have known better and had more information at their disposal apparently didn’t feel.

OldVet helped make Angry Bear feel like a community for me, and that at a time that I really needed Angry Bear to serve such a role in my life. Conversely, the blog gave me a connection to this man who I never met, but who, I am glad was my friend.

Finally, Emily was kind enough to send a few pictures.

This one comes from a day that OldVet always thought of as one of the happiest of his life:

This one from 1994:

This one is from about six months ago, when his health was already failing:

My condolences to Don’s wife and his daughter.