By Betsy Thorpe
Today’s news regularly carries distressful reports of how corporate greed is attacking and destroying the hopes and dreams of people throughout our nation. “Don’t Give-Up Give Back,” is the heartwarming biography of Kenyon “Pat” Heenan a common man who at the age of sixty six, founded a Michigan based land-development company that he presided over until the company was dissolved and liquidated twelve years later. In 1977, five years after the company’s dissolution Mr. Heenan set in motion an astonishing, altruistic initiative that has to date paid the former shareholders of Baywood Associates Inc. and their heirs almost three million dollars.
Heenan, a veteran of World War I, and the grandson of Irish immigrants was a securities salesman when the stock market crashed in October of 1929. In addition to selling investment grade bonds to banks he also sold stocks and bonds to family members and friends. Following the crash and despondent over the losses suffered by his “customers”, he turned to the bottle for refuge. For more three than years he was a “problem drinker” often rescued by friends who helped him get home safely after a night spent drinking. In 1931 an encounter with a member of the Salvation Army made a significant impact on his life and soon he stopped drinking. The one time black sheep of the family eventually developed into “the source everyone went to for assistance, guidance and often funding.”
Sober, Pat Heenan developed his naturally generous nature. With the Salvation Army and The American Red Cross his being favorite charities, he also gave on a local personal level. Every spring an employee named Charlie would request a donation from Mr. Heenan to help buy a pig to raise and fatten. Offered his choice of meat following the fall butcher, Mr. Heenon always declined saying “I will take a large share home next year.”
“Don’t Give Up-Give Back” is a short biography that explores the question why did Pat Heenan, a common man make the uncommon decision to give away so much to so many…….The answer lies inside this book that tells his inspirational life story. Written by Russ Vahlbusch an eighty one year old first time author, “Don’t Give Up-Give Back” is a deserved tribute to a man who should be listed among our nation’s finest citizens. Russ Vahlbusch first met Pat Heenan on Labor Day, 1949 when Vahlbusch was a twenty-one year old junior at Michigan State College. The would meet again many years later at Baywood Associates Inc. share holders meetings where Mr. Heenan was president and Russ Vahlbusch was a shareholder. Russ Vahlbusch and his wife Ginny live in The Village Of East Harbor, a part of the Presbyterian Retirement Community, located in Chesterfield Michigan.
Published in Nashville Tennessee, at Published By Westview, Vahlbusch’s “Don’t Give Up-Give Back” is available for purchase online at publishedbywestview.com.