I cherished and loved Chuck Zion -- he was my confidant and a brother that I never had. When I moved to Florida in the late 1990s Chuck introduced me to his father and mother, asking me to take them out once or twice a year, to look after them a bit. In time, Rabbi Zion and Jane became more than casual dinner mates; they became my mother and father, so Chuck and I really were like brothers (though absent the same blood).
I spoke to Chuck every morning at around 6:15 a.m. If I didn't call him on my direct line to Cantor's trading desk by 6:20, he'd get angry and yell at me in no uncertain terms! Invariably, legendary money managers Neil Weissman, Stanley Shopkorn, Dan Tisch or Phil Marber (Cantor's former CEO) would interrupt our daily calls. He would take their calls, and then shortly, Chuck would call me back. We rarely talked about the stock market, preferring to talk sports and food (his favorite activity!). Sometimes Chuck would tell me to check out Maureen Dowd's editorial piece in
The New York Times
("Dougie, she is mandatory reading"), or who was on Imus that morning. I got him to buy a couple of harness horses with me for fun and he got a kick out of them as we followed their losing races. "We'll get him next time," he would say (his credo) -- though we never did!
We played golf together (Chuck wrote the word "Lost" on each of his golf balls because he lost so many of them that he wanted the other players to know they were his), usually with Phil Marber or Andy Smoller. We talked NCAA football and basketball, especially about Syracuse University's teams (his alma mater). But mostly we talked about our children.
The Friday before Sept. 11 was my last day in the office, as I was leaving for Europe for 10 days. That day we spent a lot of time talking about his son Zack, reminiscing about the trip Zack and I had recently taken to New Haven to Yale University, where he watched me lecture at Dr. Robert Shiller's class on short-selling. Chuck was so proud of the way Zack had become a man. And he was nervously awaiting Greenwich High's football season with such anticipation. (They had won the state title the previous year, with Zack playing the offensive line.) Every time he talked about the upcoming season, his voice would rise several decibels. He was the proudest father on the face of the earth.