Making a Difference

There is a different type of determination when one has a cause worth fighting for. A flinty, quiet resolve, where one's back is iron-firm regardless of the push back.

Unrelenting tenacity. An unwillingness to let the bully have his way. You don't bully Patrick or those whom he cares about. Always on the side of those most vulnerable.

I have known Patrick Martucci for 22 years. I met him after he had worked his way through law school and had been recruited by the partners of the law firm where I was a third year lawyer. Even as a rookie lawyer, the character traits that define him today were simmering at the surface. While one might have mistaken that icy stare as Sicilian - right out of the Godfather --, the undercurrent of who he is and what he stands for was quite clear for those like me who were privileged to get to know him.

He is a champion for those in need - for the person whose slumlord refuses to fix a dangerous condition or for the desperate father who has lost his home in the tornado but is being denied the insurance coverage he paid for. He takes on the surgeon who sloppily forgets to use basic safeguards to prevent cutting through the common bile duct during a basic gallbladder removal or the bus-driver who is in too much of a hurry to make sure the youngster gets safely across the road. I have seen him take cases on that many would turn down as not good business risks, put his force of will into giving hope for those who had almost given up, and find a way to make a difference in their lives.

Focus. Compassion. Creativity. Work ethic. They make up who he is.

Returning to my home here in the Midwest in 1997, I was fortunate soon afterward to be able to persuade Patrick to bring Jennifer and his family here to Joplin. My good luck got better when ultimately (five years ago tomorrow), Scott Vorhees and I convinced him to bring super-paralegal Marilyn over with him when he joined us as a partner in our firm.

As Patrick's friend for more than two decades, I have seen the lighter parts that nuance who he is - a musician, a great comic wit, a student of the power of words, more Florence than Sicily when one perceives the depths that make up the man.

Patrick exemplifies family first. It forms his base - father and husband above all else -- and then he widens the circle to include those of us who make up a form of extended family around him. Springing from this foundation comes the passion to help others, to embrace the causes of those our law firm works to bring justice. No one messes with his family. And when you become a client of Patrick's, you become extended family.

He is relentless when he knows he is right. I call it the 'dog on a bone' look he gets in his eye, the deep growl coming from his core. Fierce in cross- examination. Piercing in insights in his legal briefs. Tenacious in his preparations. Yet he has the seasoned wisdom to know when the strategically placed 'high road' brings the better approach to a dispute, or when the gentle touch best calms the tempest.

For me, I will have his back in the good fight -- or his flank -- and will be proud to be in his company. Making a difference where it matters - my friend and partner, Patrick Martucci.

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