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  • Writer's pictureAllen Minassian

The Plant | A Loss and a Legacy

The year was 1995 and the place was Great Western Financial in Tarzana, California.  Just as a review, Great Western Financial was the investment arm for one of the largest financial institutions of its time, Great Western Bank.  Our colors were green, the banks colors were blue.  We were given a tiny sliver of real estate with two desks in the corner of the new accounts department.  One afternoon, I was introduced to a soft-spoken lady who had questions about her investments.  After looking through the stack of papers she brought, I explained that she was at the wrong financial institution and that her representative actually worked next door at another institution called American Savings.  That was 29 years ago, and I still remember her response like it was yesterday.  She looked me square in the eyes and said, “of course I know he is next door.”  Before I could apologize for not intending to insult her intelligence, she jumped in with “I don’t want his help.  He is never there and will not return my calls.  I would like your help.”


That exchange marked the beginning of wonderful relationship.  I would see her in the branch, frequently, and always with a smile on her face.  We quickly developed a grandma/grandson relationship.  She always stopped by my desk for a quick hello and conversations about our families.  In March of 1996, I decided to leave Great Western Financial.  When I stopped by her place to break the news to her, she surprised me with an office warming present.  She had a plant hanging from her ceiling which she was insistent on me taking.  She said that as long as I had the plant, our firm would be prosperous, and nothing would harm us.  The plant has survived numerous market downturns, tech crashes, real estate meltdowns, 9/11, Covid, and countless other doom and gloom scenarios.  It’s been divided and replanted by several other people.  It has been with us through thick and thin. 


Having said all of this, the story is not so much about the plant as it is about the lady behind the plant.  On February 27th, we lost the lady behind the plant at the tender age of 108.  She touched countless lives during her lifetime.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her.  Her plant stares at me and reminds me that in some ways, she is still with us.  I often thought that the plant would follow suit and wither after her passing, but that is not the case.  I can assure you that the plant is very much alive and thriving.  Who knows, maybe it will live to be 108.  Rest in peace, Mrs. P. 


Allen Minassian


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