Memories of Greg from Singapore LAH

Some musing about Greg;

My “threatening (turn up wearing this or else)” party invites never failed to amuse Greg. At our 4th July 2010 BBQ party, one of the rules I set was that everyone had to wear red or blue. Greg scratched his head for a long time to find something red to wear. In the end, I showed up with red toe nails. He was pissed!

Our Thanksgiving parties were also always fun and noisy with the boys fighting for the last piece of pumpkin pie. Greg was upset with Melissa one time when she gave away the last piece of pumpkin pie to Garth. Since then, Melissa had to bake two pumpkin pies for our parties.

At our annual Chinese New Year parties, we always gamble. This was Greg’s favorite part of the party.. I remembered he texted me multiple times to ensure we saved him a seat and we would not began until Greg, the gambling god, arrived. He was really good and quickly became our common enemy because he was winning all our money. We had an ex-colleague who lost a fair bit of money. Greg immediately asked how much she lost and covered all her losses. He was a generous, kind hearted gambler, wannabe.

Greg loved his food. I invited the Kahn’s and the Shibles’ over to try my cooking. Tom made really good black pepper slipper lobsters. While Melissa was in our bedroom with little B, Greg tried to save one and half slipper lobsters for Melissa. Then we started seeing Greg battling internally as to how much to save for Melissa. For every half piece of lobster he took from Melissa, he justified that Melissa doesn’t eat that much. By the time Melissa joined us back for dinner, she ended up with only a half piece of the slipper lobster, but a very contented Gregory Kahn.

I have this silly Inner-Inner-Inner circle (IIIC) where there are really only a few friends under this category. It gets reviewed every now and then. I organized this boat party for Tom’s birthday a few years back and Greg was in HK for 6 months to cover for his colleague. He knew that I wanted him to come back to Singapore for the party. He would not give me a Yes answer for quite some time. We started this negotiation process where he wanted a permanent place in my IIIC, exempt from review. Even though I thought I was a good negotiator, Greg clearly won this round. Just only recently when Greg found out that I made a new friend who happened to be a lawyer as well, he texted me: “She CANNOT be in the IIIC. I am the only lawyer allowed in that esteemed group!” He was right.

Shamala and I always loved to tease Greg. We would regularly put him on the spot, asking him to decide which one of us was better at this, that, or the other. Always quick witted, he’d have a response that satisfied, yet never really taking a side.

While Greg was still based in HK, we all went to HK Rugby Sevens. He was supporting team USA while I was just checking out the cute rugby players. We had tickets only for the first day. I remembered Greg, Tom and I were on the street on the 2nd day and trying to work out the plan to negotiate the best price for tickets. We were formidable and of course we got ourselves a great deal or so we thought.

One of the most beautiful moments with Greg was when he broke the news of Melissa’s pregnancy. We both had tears in our eyes. He told me that Val, you are going to be an aunt soon and I said no, I am going to be a Godma. Since then, he always loved to give me a hard time that Benjamin called Shamala Godma, as well.

Greg was fantastic as an attorney and as our friend. However, he was even better at being Benjamin’s papa.

Greg was the smartest, warmest, most positive and generous, dependable person I feel that I have ever known. He will be missed, but never forgotten.

Thank you all

I loved my son Greg and knew he was special, but I’ve learned a great deal more from your remembrances. I did not know what went on at Walt Whitman or Rice until I heard your speaking of him at the celebration. Thank you for teaching me so much about my son.

WWHS with Greg

Dear Benjamin,

I met your dad during our freshman year of high school and after that, virtually every one of my high school memories includes your father. He was really special – witty, brilliant, interesting, engaging, knowledgeable, funny, kind, and generous – and being around him made me feel special too.

My first memory of your father is from our freshman year in high school. Your dad was the new guy from Iowa in our class, and we were both in Ms. Heyman’s English class. He sat in another section of the classroom from me and I don’t think I had ever spoken to him until Ms. Heyman assigned the class to read Romeo and Juliet out loud and in class. As I remember, most of the students were fairly self conscious about the assignment, reading their lines self consciously and without passion. But your dad, as Romeo, took a different approach. He threw himself into the role, reading every line with such enthusiasm and seriousness that the entire class forgot he was reading a part. In turn, the rest of the class changed its approach to follow his lead. Suddenly, thanks to your dad, Shakespeare was exciting and fun. I think the first time I said anything to your dad was when I mustered up the courage to tell him how much I had enjoyed hearing him read Romeo.

After that, your dad and I became close friends. He loved to talk politics, and we discovered a mutual interest in Gary Hart’s campaign for President in 1984. He and I went to Hart campaign headquarters to volunteer, which at that point seemed like the most grown-up thing I had ever done in my life! I can’t remember if your dad actually subscribed to The New Republic, or just read every issue, but he had read more books about a broader range of topics than anyone I knew in high school. At one point you father worked at Second Story Books in Bethesda, which he loved, and I can remember visiting him at work and being inspired by his enthusiasm for the store and for everything involving books. He had great taste in music and could Bob Dylan effortlessly. Bringing us even closely together, your aunt Jessica became close friends with my younger brother, Andrew.

He was also a feminist. I remember the time I saw him sign his name “Greg H.B. Kahn,” and explaining that he had decided to add an extra middle initial to his name because his mother’s maiden name started with a “B” and he wanted his signature to reflect her influence too. I was fascinated – and impressed.

He was also a great sports lover. I played field hockey for Whitman, along with Anita Bose, Catherine McGraw, and many of your dad’s other friends and admirers, and he covered our team for the Black and White. Thanks to him, our team probably got more coverage than any other Whitman girls’ field hockey team before and since. Your father came to our home games and our away games, and because he was there, many of our other friends came out to cheer us on. I also remember many summer nights playing tennis with him at the courts behind Western Junior High and, once we got our licenses, the thrill of driving around Bethesda with your dad in your grandparents’ maroon Volkwagen Rabbit.

He was also a devoted friend and correspondent. Catherine McGraw and I went away to West Virginia for camp every summer, and I remember his many elegantly written and thoughtful letters. One summer he and our other friends saw Bruce Springsteen while we were at camp; getting Greg’s letter about that experience made me feel as though I had been there too!

After we went off to college, our paths continued to cross, although less frequently. He was one of those rare friends for whom the passage of time or distances never mattered – we just picked up easily where we had left off the last time. At every major life transition, your dad was always a steady and supportive presence. To give just one example, when our first daughter was born, Greg sent her The Little Engine that Could, which is one of the great children’s books. I read it countless times to both of my children, thinking of your father and his friendship each time.

I feel so lucky to have called your father my friend.

Tokyo Metro — without prompting, the kid knows how to ride!

Dear Benjamin,

As it’s the eve of the memorial service, I was looking back at some of my correspondence with your father. Greg and I worked together at Verizon in our Arlington office and had offices next to each other. He was a wonderful friend, great attorney, and an all-around fantastic person. As two avid sports fans, we spent a great deal of time discussing and debating sports and often did both over daily lunches and while attending local games together. He was ecstatic to share his love of sports with you. Below is an email that he sent me last May after he took you to your first baseball game in Japan. As the title of this message shows, your father was already impressed with your athletic instincts.
. . .

Hi David,

Benjamin and I saw our first live baseball game last night here in Japan–the Hiroshima Carp beat the Tokyo Giants, in case the story did not make ESPN 🙂 — and the photo below came from earlier in the day on the Tokyo Metro. For some reason, something during the game reminded me of the Yankees-Nationals games we attended many moons ago. Those happy memories prompted me to send you this photo and to let you know that I am grooming another fan (albeit a fan of the Tokyo Giants, apparently).Greg and Benjamin on Metro

My best to you and the family.


The Great, Great Greg Kahn

I am unable to make it to the memorial service, and I so regret that; when I heard the news, I walked home, took a soda out of the fridge, sat down, and sobbed. Then I immediately thought of him helping me off the floor when I passed out in his bathroom and I laughed. I hope maybe my thoughts can make it into the readings, if possible. Greg Kahn and I covered sports together at The Baytown Sun in 1993 and hat met maybe a couple years prior. We’d meet at 6am to do the sports section, go to Golden Corral for breakfast, crash at my place for a few hours, and get up to cover Little League or high school volleyball. Then grab a cold one somewhere in Houston to laugh about the day’s low-pay, labor of love events. From hilarious discussions on how well blacks and Jews get along contrary to what the bureaucrats say, to signing off our emails in our own secret code, to his golden advice on anything and everything, to the “soon man, soon” reply to the 150+ times I asked him when he was gonna marry that nice girl he had, to keeping the swimsuit issue in our adjoining desks at work as instant stress relief for being young liberals in a small Texas town, to our last time seeing each other in midtown Manhattan over mimosas and pancakes, only Greg Kahn could navigate all those waters successfully with humor and an intensity that burned but hardly ever outwardly. I’ve told at least 20 people since his passing that there are probably thousands of people who knew Greg, and it’s very likely that, as is the case for me, he is one of the top two or three friends they’ve ever had and one of the few they fully could trust. When a relative of mine passed several years ago, we concluded his services by giving him a standing ovation. I hope everyone gets time to do that for Greg on Thursday. As we say in the city, big ups to my man Greg, and mad props to his fam and friends. Stay blessed….craig wilson, nyc