Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Strange Death of I.E. Millstone

When the Family Members and I were driving cross-country, each morning I bought a local newspaper, doing my best to single-handedly end the moribund state of printed news in this country. On the morning of May 23, an obituary appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch announcing a memorial service for I.E. Millstone, a man who started his own construction company at age 22, was a major builder throughout the Midwest, was considered to be the patriarch of the St. Louis Jewish community, and was a renowned philanthropist, generous to Jewish and non-Jewish charities. In the words of the Post Dispatch, "The 102-year-old builder and philanthropist disappeared May 16, the same day a witness reported seeing an elderly man jumping off the Daniel Boone Bridge into the Missouri River." At that time, his body had not yet been found, but a car belonging to his caregiver was found parked by the bridge. The caregiver indicated that he had been on anti-anxiety medication following a shoulder injury, and had not reacted well to it.

Well, today, June 2nd, they finally found Mr. Millstone's body. There had been a service for him on Sunday at United Hebrew Congregation, where he had been a member his entire life and the comments of everyone who had known him indicated what a remarkable human being he had been. I really don't know what to think about his strange death. On the one hand, he outlived his wife and both his children and, at his last public appearance, only a week or so before his jump from the bridge, he was said to be in obvious pain. On the other hand, everything in this man's long and honorable life argues against suicide. And why a leap from a bridge, instead of taking all of those anti-anxiety pills at once? I am mystified.

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