It was very shocking and sad to learn this past week of the untimely death of my good friend and industry colleague, Perry Granof. Because Perry was friends with so many in the industry, I thought it would be appropriate for me to post a memorial to him here. Please also read the many memorials to Perry at the end of this post. Because the way Perry lived his life has so many lessons for all of us, I hope everyone will read this memorial, even those who did not know him.
Perry was an attorney, a father, and a husband. He was a colleague, a mentor, and a friend. Many in the industry who knew Perry first met him through his work at Chubb, where for many years he worked as a claims attorney. Others may have become acquainted with him through his prolific writing, including his several books on D&O insurance. Still others may have come to know him through his activities on American Bar Association committees, or through the several “Day at Lloyd’s” seminars he organized in New York in conjunction with the PLUS D&O conference. And still others may have gotten to know Perry in recent years in connection with the expert advisory services he provided through his company, Granof International Group, LLC.
Perry was the consummate industry professional. Few could match his experience or expertise. But, characteristically of Perry, he was interested in sharing his knowledge and expertise through his many publications, through his many seminar appearances, and through his active and engaged interactions with professionals throughout the industry and around the world.
I first became acquainted with Perry about 30 years ago, when he was at Chubb and I was an attorney in private practice working on insurance coverage matters. At that point, we were professional acquaintances, only. Years later, through PLUS events and other industry activities, I became better acquainted with Perry. We did a number of educational events together, including several very enjoyable events in London. Most memorably, in 2012, Perry and I traveled to Asia together to participate in industry events in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore. (In Singapore and Hong Kong, we were joined by our mutual friend and industry legend, Joe Monteleone).
Perry was one of the truly good people I have had the pleasure to know. He was always in a positive mood. Perry always – always – had a smile on his face. He was always interested in and curious about people, the law, the world as a whole. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like Perry and I can’t imagine that there is anyone who didn’t like Perry.
I know that Perry was a deeply committed family man. One thing that stands out for me as I think about Perry was the warmth and pride with which he would talk about his daughters and his wife, Carol. When I think about Perry, I think to myself here is a man who lived life well, who lived it the right way altogether. Perry was also a deeply religious man, and it can truly be said that he lived his faith. Perry was a righteous man and a good soul.
When I reflect on Perry’s life and our friendship, I realize there are (at least) three important things he taught me.
First, although Perry and I first knew each other only as industry acquaintances, we grew to become friends. There is a lesson for everyone here. Even if we interact with people in the course of our work for purely practical reasons, mere work acquaintances can become real friendships as well. It is probably also worth adding that we knew each other a very long time. The people you meet early in your career could be part of your life for many years.
Second, Perry had a special capacity for friendship. There are so many examples that come to mind, but one particular incident with Perry stands out for me. Perry and I were meeting for coffee one morning in Chicago. Perry showed up for the meeting with a book, which he intended to give to me as a gift – not because there was any occasion for gift-giving, but simply because he had read the book himself and he thought (correctly) that I would be interested in the book as well. That is why Perry had so many friends, all over the world, as reflected in the many memorials to Perry, below.
Third, the people around us can influence us, and in turn we can influence other people. Perry certainly had an influence on me. The earnest, optimistic, joyful way he lived his life definitely gave me a positive example of how to live life well. I am a better person for having known Perry.
There is so much to remember when I think about Perry. I can remember from the time we were in Hong Kong, how we walked around the crowded city, with Perry constantly remarking on the incredibly diverse and changing scene. It was a hot humid day, and we ended up wandering into a very British pub, and drinking beer and watching a Premier League soccer match. Perry was not a beer drinker or a soccer fan, but he could hardly contain his enjoyment. He was absolutely delighted to be there and his delight was contagious. Just remembering it brings a smile to my face.
I will miss Perry. Everyone will miss Perry. It is a shock how suddenly and unexpectedly he is gone. Brothers and sisters, value your friends, keep them near, because no one knows what tomorrow may bring. Perry, the world will be a sadder place without you.
Before writing this memorial, I reached out to several industry colleagues that I knew were also friends of Perry’s, and I asked them to send me their reminiscences of him. The responses I received are set out below. Anyone else who would like to add their words to this memorial, please just email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add them to this post.
Dave Williams and I had dinner with Perry on February 26 when we were all at the PLUS D&O Symposium, and I last saw him during the following days at the Symposium.
I have nothing but fond memories of Perry. In fact, at dinner we reminisced about the PLUS Asia D&O Conferences that we did with you a few years ago in Hong Kong and Singapore. If memory serves me correctly, you and Perry also did an ABA program that same year in Beijing.
Perry established and chaired a very successful ABA committee annual program – A Day at Lloyds – a few years ago. It ran for a few years right before the PLUS D&O Symposium and sparked much interest in D&O insurance and the workings of the London market. Perry was tireless and very effective as an ABA committee chair and did much to foster collaborative relationships between the ABA and other organizations.
In recent years, Perry and I worked collaboratively through the ABA and PLUS to educate and gain support for the concept of mandatory coverage mediation in the D&O arena. We have also each served as expert witnesses and arbitrators, and would share many thoughts on conflict and ethical issues. Perry was someone of utmost integrity whose advice and guidance I welcomed.
Although we were never co-employees, Perry and I believe he was my de facto successor at Chubb after I left in 1988.
I regret not having seen Perry at the recent PLUS Event. We had regularly met up there each year for a meal, along with others, yourself and Henry included. He was sometimes also running a Day at Lloyd’s event around the same time. A few years ago Perry had one of his beautiful daughters join us for cocktails after a New York Law School Seminar on Arbitration. I never met his wife Carol but have spoken with her on the phone from time to time. This year, I was conflicted out of the PLUS Event due to a Florida wedding. Henry [Nichols] suggested to me that we keep meeting up at PLUS in honor of Perry’s memory.
My relationship with Perry spanned both of our careers beginning when I first met him on a case when I was at INAPRO. I lost touch with him for a bit when I became an underwriter but then after I returned to claims, our orbits began to cross again and I ran into him quite regularly on D&O claims, particularly when we were both working in the international space and specifically on many German D&O claims out of Lloyd’s, where we would often work hand in glove toward a resolution.
When I retired Perry talked me into trying on an Expert hat, which I have been wearing ever since.
He was a treasured colleague and friend and I know he touched many others. While we did not always agree we never left each other unsatisfied, and always respected each others positions. I miss him already.
Devastating news. I had dinner with Perry on the 2/25 along with some colleagues from Canada. He was his usual warm, funny self. I still can’t quite believe he is gone. One of the real good guys. He will be truly missed.
I was Perry’s manager for his time at Chubb and we kept up after that at bar association activities, his Day at Lloyd’s events and most recently at ARIAS (where he was a fellow newly certified reinsurance arbitrator). We also shared experiences as mediators in both Court programs and in commercial mediations. He was well-respected in all of those circles. He always spoke with great pride about his family.
His untimely passing teaches me many lessons including to expect the unexpected (and aren’t we all learning that as well from this Coronavirus pandemic) and focus on and enjoy the present, as nothing in the future is guaranteed.
One of the best ways to hone your craft as an underwriter is to be able to discuss the business with expert claims professionals.
When it came to international issues Perry was an incredibly unique commodity in the professional liability industry and for me a trusted go to intellectual resource.
Perry never jealously guarded his knowledge, this was evident in all his engagements whether with PLUS, the ABA TIPs or the chartered institute of American Arbitrations. Sitting on panels, writing white papers and more recently participating on podcasts; Perry brought depth and detail to any subject that was always well researched.
Perry’s knowledge was coupled with a special type of kindness. I recall mentioning to Perry that I had once met the infamous Singapore Baring Futures broker Nicholas Leeson, the next week a package showed up in my office, it was a copy of “The Report of the Inspectors Appointed by the Singapore Minister for Finance into the Affairs of Baring Futures (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.” Perry was thoughtful to the extra mile.
A fond memory I will hold from our conversations over the years is that I can hear Perry saying ‘Wow I never thought of that” and then in a whirl of excitement start to add a series of facts, cases and statutes relevant to the topic. Perry was dedicated to a global understanding of our business. He was humble and self effacing, always listened and was complimentary with whomever he was speaking with. If you had an opportunity to have a dinner with Perry, you learned that he was a proud husband and father to an equally impressive family.
He will be missed but through his teaching and industry engagement made a significant mark on our industry.
I almost feel like I’m not deserving of being on this string given that I didn’t know Perry nearly as well as all of you, a fact which saddens me because I do know that he was a great guy. I met Perry in person only once or twice, but I spoke to him by phone at least 30 times in the past eight or so years, after we had both become consultants and expert witnesses (along with Ty). We referred cases to each other fairly frequently (sorry Ty!)
I knew Perry well enough to discern that he was a man of great integrity, loyalty and intelligence. Talking to him was always enjoyable and my last conversation with him was about 10 days before his untimely passing.
Not too long ago, well, within the last year or two, which isn’t long at our age, I asked Perry if he could ever see himself going back to a 9 to 5 job and he said no, at his age of 65 he said he’d settled into an enjoyable lifestyle that allowed him to work when he wanted and to have time for other important things in life. I’ve thought about that statement several times since he said it, and again when I learned of his untimely passing.
Believe it or not, Perry’s passing reminded me of my AIG friend Joe Fine, who died in January of 2000 at the age of 34, on the very day he’d been promoted to the presidency of AIG’s M&A unit. Even though Perry was 30 years older, both seemed to have left us when they had plenty of living left to do.
Perry’s passing is yet another reminder of the fragility and evanescence of life; we need to enjoy it while we can. All else aside, I’m grateful to be part of a close-knit industry where we pull together in times like this, employment loyalties notwithstanding.
I have been profoundly saddened by the death of an industry colleague who I had only met once or twice in person, but who had made an outsized impact on me. I think that says more about Perry than anything that I could put in writing. Hopefully he’s somewhere above, looking down on us and enjoying the fact that he no longer has to deal with our emails!
I am also shocked and saddened. Some of us saw Perry just a few weeks back at this year’s PLUS Symposium in NYC.
He was truly a gentleman and a scholar.
You all have waxed poetically about Perry, so the only words I can add is that he was a mensch in the truest sense. He loved his family and was so proud of them, he was a loyal and generous friend, and a true professional.
This loss hit me hard as I cherished our calls – about big ten football, religion, business or family.
It is my great privilege to know Perry as a colleague (AIG), a competitor (Chubb), and more recently as that weird combination of both, as a fellow expert witness in the insurance coverage field. But, much more important than any of these, it was my great privilege to know him as a friend. I last spoke to Perry a mere five days before his shocking and untimely death as he discussed with me his plans for the future and our plans to work together. Perry was the rare combination of talent, experience and honor that is seemingly needed more today than ever. He will be missed by an entire industry.
I am unsure how to respond…am shocked and very sad with this news. Perry was always enthusiastic; thought outside the box and made things happen against the odds- he definitely was determined! I was part of the London Lloyds conference and yes it had a very strong impact here.
The main thing I do remember about him is not professional but how much he cared for his family and always put them at the heart of his decision making- a true gentleman with old fashioned values which carry so much more importance in today’s times.
I wish his family strength and I hope Perry is feeling at peace.
Thank you for publishing your note on Perry; I had not heard of his passing. That he was an experienced and knowledgeable professional is a given, but I want to remember the Perry you remember in you Hong Kong story. I had the privilege of working with him as outside counsel on a number of D&O cases during his years at Chubb. My fondest memories are of the evening meetings at the hotel before an important meeting, or walking the City (whatever city, but often New York) the next day after the meeting, looking for some obscure restaurant he recalled from years earlier. One moment he was pushing a map I had produced back into my pocket (before cell phones), with a “we’re not tourists” comment, to the next when he was pressing a twenty dollar bill into the hand of a homeless woman curled up against the cold on the street. He was a man of countless interests and great compassion. There are so many stories, but others who knew him probably experienced this one as well—if you got him started on favorite Seinfeld episodes, that conversation could go all evening. We all will miss him.
I was shocked and saddened to read your post this morning about Perry’s unexpected passing. As you know, I worked with Perry for about a decade when we both were claim counsel at Chubb. Even back then, he was one of a kind, in his vast knowledge of international D&O laws and issues. But even more memorable was his unfailing humanity. I’ve been lucky to know many wonderful people in the insurance business, but I’ve never known a kinder or better person in this business than Perry. Everything you say about him is true. My deepest sympathy to you and to his family.
Perry was a special friend. He was exceedingly kind to me—with his time, his compliments, his introductions, his ideas for collaboration, and his total engagement and energy when we visited. I’m grateful for his friendship.
Perry and I shared some important ideals for our industry. Most fundamentally, we shared the view that I, as a securities and governance defense lawyer, and D&O insurers, brokers, and their advisors are all in the same industry—namely, the business of keeping directors and officers protected and comfortable through securities and governance litigation. We were committed to increasing collegiality among insurers, brokers, and securities and governance defense lawyers, and to finding ways for that trio to work together better for the benefit of our mutual clients. We were committed to finding a way to put “litigation” back in “securities litigation.” I will continue to advance those ideals.
I had breakfast with Perry the week of the PLUS D&O Symposium. I’m so glad I had a chance to see him then; his smile and kindness are fresh in my mind, and vividly etched in my memory.
I am very saddened to hear about Perry.
He was a good soul and very helpful to us in Asia when we started out to organise the PLUS event in 2012 in Hong Kong and Singapore.
I met him a few times at the PLUS Conferences in USA and at the C5 conference in London.
His demise is a real loss to our Financial Lines industry.
The last time I met him was in London in March 2016. … See photo.
May he Rest In Peace.