Robert C. Corthell, 1948-2017: Trucker, Teacher, Family Man

by Bill Brenner November 9, 2017 Gratitude

Robert C. Corthell of Haverhill, Mass., died peacefully at Lahey Burlington Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, surrounded by loved ones, after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He was 69. He fought his brief illness with the same stubbornness and grit by which he lived. His family and friends knew him as Bob, Bobby, Dad and Grandpa. He was born and raised in Haverhill and, after serving in the U.S. Army, spent the rest of his life there,…  [Read More]

A Tribute to “Silent Segal”

by Bill Brenner November 11, 2015 Lessons from the past

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my maternal grandfather, Louis Segal. This decorated veteran died 19 years ago, and I keep thinking of the things I wish we could talk about today. Mood music: Papa, as we called him, asked me to take him for a ride to the bank the evening before he died. He got into the car and declared that he felt like “the last rose of summer.” I think he…  [Read More]

5 Realizations and Defenses from the Family Business

by Bill Brenner November 2, 2015 Dealing with life

Big pressures aside, I’ve learned much while cleaning up and selling off the old family business and managing trusts Dad left in my hands. Mood music: Until I took on this family business stuff, I’d never had to deal with lawyers or real estate people at this magnitude. I had certainly never managed this kind of money. Here are five realizations — and five defenses — that have saved me from implosion. 5 Realizations Lawyers are the best and worst of humanity….  [Read More]

Life Doesn’t Suck, We Just Need Our Life Jackets

by Bill Brenner May 27, 2015 Coping tools

Lately, I’ve been going through a tough period and been documenting it here because it’s another journey and I like to document all my journeys. One thing I’m re-learning on this trek is that it’s important to find life jackets that keep you from drowning when the floods come. Put on the life jacket for a couple hours or a couple of days pockets to keep your head above water. Mood music: Last weekend while the…  [Read More]

Anatomy of an Identity Crisis

by Bill Brenner February 4, 2015 Family

When a sibling’s death turns the baby of the family into the oldest son, you get an identity crisis filled with anger and confusion. Mood music: I’ve written at length about my brother Michael, who died of an asthma attack when I was 13. That experience will test any kid, and I was no exception. The loss infused a deep reservoir of fear and anxiety in me that would bubble up many times over the years….  [Read More]

Cut Toxic People Loose

by Bill Brenner January 2, 2015 Coping tools

We all have dysfunctional friends and family. In some respects, they add color and fun to our lives. But sometimes you find yourself up against that special someone who constantly complains about others and puts you down. We want to accept the latter as much as we accept the former. But there’s a problem. Mood music: The latter group — we’ll call them the toxic people — rub off on you. Their toxic tirades seep…  [Read More]

When Work Becomes Everything, This Happens

by Bill Brenner May 8, 2014 Uncategorized

As someone who takes work very seriously, an article on LinkedIn by Jeff Haden really hit home. The man in his story had a life in which the personal and professional were so tightly wound that he lost all hope when the business ran into trouble. For me, family and friends come first, and I know I’d have all the support in the world if I ever ran into trouble on the business side. But there…  [Read More]

Happy Birthday to a Joyful Little Soul

by Bill Brenner March 18, 2014 Family

Three years ago today, my nephew Owen was born. We just celebrated his third birthday, but I wanted to say a little something here. Think of it as my personalized birthday card to him. First, a video for Owen’s amusement, which also has some good advice: Let me tell you a few things about Owen: He is one of the most joyful souls I’ve ever met. He’s always laughing, excited by every new wonder. He used…  [Read More]

The Paul Revere Owl of Rage

by Bill Brenner August 13, 2013 Depression

A friend of mine from Revere found a drawing I did in junior high school. I had totally forgotten about it, but once I had a look yesterday, I remembered what it was about. Mood music: I was asked to draw something that could be used for the Paul Revere School eighth-grade graduation program. I was a misfit back then, a fat, slovenly kid who sucked at sports and verbally fought with just about everyone….  [Read More]

Sending Our Kids to Another School

by Bill Brenner August 9, 2013 Family

After weeks of agonizing, debating, praying and researching, Erin and I made the painful but necessary decision to move the kids from the only school they’ve ever known to someplace new. Mood music: In three weeks, Sean and Duncan won’t be starting school at St. Joseph’s in Haverhill. Instead, they’re going to St. Augustine’s in Andover. We love the St. Joe’s community and always will. But the bottom line is that both boys have extra…  [Read More]