Don Schaut died on Sunday in Sonoma, California. He was a good friend, an international tax lawyer, a mentor, and the first person to point me toward finding the Good Life I enjoy today. I’ll miss him.
Don practiced law in Los Angeles for most of his career. That’s where I met him. I was straight out of law school. He helped me in those early days. “What’s this 1978-2 C.B. 23 stuff? What’s that?” He gently guided me to a rack of grey books — the Cumulative Bulletin. Yes, that’s how dense I was as a newly minted lawyer. But I made up for it in arrogance! 🙂
In the early 1990’s he moved North to Glen Ellen, ostensibly to wind down his practice. He seemed to be busier than when he was in Los Angeles. Eventually, though, he did wind down his practice and properly retire.
Over the years I have patterned my law practice on what I saw him do. Whether he knew it or not, he was a mentor in everything from how to set up a filing system to whether to keep or fire clients. And he found the Good Life, blazing a trail that I later — reluctantly — followed. Only later did the benefits of that life become apparent.
I last saw him in March, 2002, when my wife and I were in Sonoma for a tax boondoggle. Don and I met on Saturday morning. He was sick then, and told me that he knew he’d be around until the end of the year, but didn’t know whether he’d make it to March, 2003. He was right.
Best wishes to Esther and to Don’s kids — Michael, Carolynn, and Wayne.