Our partner, editor, humorist, and friend, Dennis Merley, retired at the end of 2020. We wish Dennis the best in his retirement! When I sent a message wishing him well to the firm, Dennis responded with a poem we had to share – and of course – his poem is better than anything I could write. I’m also republishing remarks from Penny and Paul (shortened slightly), which I hope you enjoy. Dennis will be missed more than words can say!
After 38+ years with the Firm, it is difficult to sum up my feelings, thank all the right people and say all I want to say, without going on for many, many pages. So, in keeping with my own particular sense of style, I will just share a short poem that I wrote this morning:
Ode from a Retired Guy
No statutes, no regs, no administrative rules;
Goodbye Westlaw, Lexis and other research tools.
No more subpoenas, hearings or judicial powers.
I’m done with seminars, CLE’s and billable hours.
Farewell LinkedIn, e-alerts and employment law posts.
So long to “Super Lawyers” and “Best Lawyer” boasts.
What my retirement will be, nobody knows.
Until COVID is over, it’s just Netflix crime shows.
But after my vaccine, my plans will unravel
And surely include volunteering, youth sports and travel.
And as my office presence now becomes scant
Soon you’ll be asking “Who was that guy who sat next to Grant?”
So now I will say to Penny, Paul, Sara and the rest,
In the words of Melania, “Just Be Best.”
38 years at Felhaber surely did fly.
There’s nothing left to say except: Be well and goodbye.
From Penny and Paul:
It is difficult to imagine a Felhaber law firm without Dennis Merley. From my (Paul’s) first day in May of 1983 Dennis was there with his quick, often acerbic wit and warm welcome to someone with whom he really had little in common. He never hesitated to show the newcomer the ropes, give insights on the senior partners and just make the office a fun place to come every day.
Always the most popular speaker at firm seminars, Dennis taught all of us, through his example, how to engage an audience and make even the driest topics (e.g. the Fair Labor Standards Act) fun. He was uniquely responsible for making the firm’s programs among the most successful in the Midwest and when he took over the firm newsletters and blogs, they became the gold standard for other firms. Those successes were a testament to Dennis’ flair for writing and his ability to see the humor in nearly every legal issue. His annual Christmas blogs were by far his finest work!
From my (Penny’s) perspective, on the first day I started as a law clerk in February 1989, I gained a mentor and life-long friend. Dennis has always been willing to answer my questions (“there are no stupid questions, only stupid people asking questions” (see acerbic wit reference above)) and talk me through a complicated legal analysis. He has also taught me everything I know about how to speak to a group of HR folks and how to give a client good, practical legal advice (a Felhaber trademark).
As long as I have been at the firm, Dennis has set an excellent example of how to be an informal mentor to other attorneys – he has always been willing to listen and help. And, now that I have been at the firm for what seems like a very long time, I can’t begin to say how much I will miss my dear friend and mentor who has spent countless hours coaching me on being a grown-up (both lawyer and human) and helped me to maneuver through a wide range of non-legal matters — from office politics to sage parenting advice to how to identify a curveball.
Most of all, we value Dennis’ friendship and loyalty, in and out of the office, and that will be missed most of all. Over the course of 30 years, all of us have had our share of personal and professional challenges and successes, and Dennis was always there for others when he was needed most. That is the true measure of a genuine colleague and friend.
Often when people leave their long-time workplaces it is said that they will be incredibly difficult to replace. Dennis presents the exception in that he, and the mark he left, truly cannot be replaced. The best we can hope for is to supplement his legacy. We hope that the work that carries on as he moves to retirement will make him as proud as we are honored to have worked with him.
Well said, Penny and Paul. Dennis, you will be missed by all of us!