by Leo Melamed
At the height of the 2008 financial crisis, when scores of financial giants such as Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Baer Sterns and Lehman Brothers were in distress, some of them ending in bankruptcy, the one financial institution in the US that weathered the meltdown without a hitch was the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
People ask, how did that happen? I know the answer. It happened back in 1971, at the birth of the International Monetary, the IMM. I had asked my best friend, my fellow board member, my financial advisor, to build us the Clearing House.
And Barry Lind said to me “Leo, we have to make a statement to the world so that the IMM is as financially sound as the NYSE.” It was nearly a laughable concept. The NYSE was then the most revered institution in the universe, second perhaps only to God.
And Barry did just that. He laid the cornerstone for the financial foundation that to this day serves the financial integrity of the CME.
With those talents he went on to found the hugely successful Lind Waldock firm. It was the world’s first futures discount firm — at the time an unheard of concept. It became the precursor to today’s Charles Schwab. Yes, his innovations were legendary. It was the first firm to devise a computerized accounting system to guard against a trader’s lossess. The Merc ultimately adopted the innovation.
In the war I led to create the modern CME—and it was a war—Barry Lind was my trusted general who never failed me. He was my greatest supporter in launching Globex, the electronic system that changed the world. Sometimes, it felt like my only supporter. When it was time to launch the E-mini contract, which catapulted the Merc to stardom, Barry was the guy I called first to get his assurance that Lind Waldock would be there and watch my back.
But financial genius was but one of Barry’s talents. He was a man for all seasons who touched us all. Whether it was advice, business or personal, a family matter, a loan, a financial analysis, a business opportunity, a lesson in history we all leaned on him.
And he was extremely competitive in all walks of life, whether it involved his first passion, golf, or his renowned Sunday morning touch-football games, or clobyosh, or gin, or whatever, he strove to win. And he usually did. It was the same in his trading. He was an outstanding trader. When I went into a bad losing streak, I came to Barry to straighten me out. And he kept meticulous records of how he and everyone was doing—in everything. It was scrupulously correct.
It is no secret that the two of us were passionate about our Porsches and that we drove fast. He once paid me the greatest compliment possible, he recorded that I made it from his house to the Loop, during traffic, in 19 minutes and 34 seconds, establishing, he said, a new world’s record—and beating his by 58 seconds.
And he was a Jew first and foremost. There is hardly a Jewish charity in Chicago that didn’t know the Lind name. His dry sense of humor was legendary. When you would call the Lind’s residence, more often than not, it was answered with a recorded Barry telling a humorous Jewish story about a Rabbi or some wise man offering some sage advice.
And he was devoted to family. He would do everything for them. His ultimate pride were his parents, his mother Rose whose name was carried on the building where Lind Waldock was housed, and his father, Phil Lind, the famous Jewish cantor whom Barry worshiped. We would go together to listen. He idolized his beautiful wife Terri. How could he do otherwise. She and my wife Betty, became a steady foursome and adventured around the world, Acapulco, Rio, London, Paris, Switzerland, Venice, Scottsdale, Aspen.
His pride and joy were his three children, his eight grandchildren, including the latest addition of twins, his sister, her husband, his brothers, his multitude of uncles, his innumerable cousins, his extended family members, and the endless number of intimate friends. As well as, of course, all the Merc members— who were family to him. When the four of us would dine at EJ’s, it was difficult to finish the meal for the constant interruptions by friends who stopped by to say hello.
How can I explain it in the three minutes I was given. Barry was a worldly mensch whose wisdom and experience he dispensed to one and all. He was a man who possessed unique and extraordinary talents. The brother I never had.
I cannot imagine a world without Barry. None of us can. But remember this: He had a sensational life.