If you have found your way to this site, you may have known Justin Mamis from his career as a stock market analyst and technician. You might have known him from his books on the stock market. Or you might have known him from his days as a novelist and playwright. It’s possible that you were a classmate of his at Yale, or played baseball with him in the low level of the minor leagues. You might have played him in a senior tennis tournament. In any case, as you can see from the headline, my father passed away early on the morning of September 22, 2019, at 90 years old, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. The following are eulogies delivered at his memorial service by his four children in order of how they were presented that day, which just happened to be from oldest to youngest.
Thanks dad. Thanks for imbuing in me a love for and appreciation of reading and writing. Without that, I wouldn’t be who I am today, for better or worse.
Thanks dad. Thanks for teaching me to play and love baseball. Patiently pitching to me in Vermont, when my age was still a single digit. Taking me to Yankee Stadium so often. And taking me to Fenway Park and showing me where you’d buy the cheaper unofficial program and the cheaper peanuts outside
Thanks especially for taking me to my first World Series game in 1964 against the Cardinals, which unfortunately they won on a 10th inninng Tim McCarver homer. I’ve been lucky enough to go to dozens of World Series games since, some very memorable ones, but that memory is the one that means the most.
A few years ago, we gathered together nearly all the Mamis guys – dad, me, Josh, Max and Noah – Sacha was unfortunately in Switzerland – and we went to a Yankee game together. That was really special.
Thanks dad. Thanks for supporting me, perhaps somewhat quizzically, as I became politically active in 8th grade and beyond. And for supporting me when I started my own high school underground newspaper. And for supporting me when I dropped out of Stuyvesant after my junior year to start, with some friends, my own high school. Literally. A free alternative high school, a noble experiment in unstructured student-run education. You were there for me every step of the way.
Thanks dad. Thanks for being there the two times I was arrested. I was 15 and arrested for breaking INTO Washington Irving HS during the 1968 teacher’s strike, and he was at the precinct within half an hour. And when I was picked up in Mequon, Wisconsin and accused of being a runaway (police harassment at an underground newspaper conference). Dad later said they asked him if I had his permission to be in Mequon or was I a runaway, and he said “he absolutely has our permision, this sounds like something from Nazi Germany.”
Thanks dad. Thanks for all the days and weeks we got to ski together from 1996 into 2014, and for that fateful first ski trip to Deer Valley, without which I might never have ended up moving to Park City in 2004, which has been so life-changing for me. I don’t think you ever thought, at 69 in 1998 that you would ski as much as you did for as long as you did, but you did ski all the way to 85, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it enhanced your life.
“It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s house. Inside the house was Eeyore.
“Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.
“Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet” said Eeyore, in a Glum sounding voice.
“We just thought we’d check on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.”
Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?” he asked, eventually. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself.
All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All.Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.”
Pooh looked at Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.
Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”
“We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends (AND family) are there for you anyway. And so here we are.”
“Oh,” said Eeyore. “Oh.” And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better. Because Pooh and Piglet were There. No more; no less.”
I guess we all know who my father was in that story!
I could tell you about how much my father gave me: my love of literature, music, lots of music, theater (of course), his sense of whimsy and playfulness, his introspective and reflective nature — all those things — and more — would be true. But what I most treasure that he gave me, is a curiosity about and an understanding of people. When I got cold feet at the moment my husband Jürg and I were offered the chance to adopt an about -to-be-born baby after a long and painful battle trying to conceive — I called my father and expressed my sudden doubts. He replied: “How can you say no to a human life?
Well that clinched the deal for me. And so for you, all my family and friends, in dad’s spirit and in his memory, I quote Wordsworth:
“A child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts.”
Love you forever,
When I was helping put together my father’s obituary (posted at the end of this thread), I did something he would never do. I followed conventional wisdom.
I did the expected. I accepted the normal narrative. Even while writing it, I knew that it would not capture the essence of who he was.
What did I do? I started by writing about his career.
We all know that, with a few exceptions, people are so much more than what they did for a living. But my father’s life, like most of us, was more complicated even than that.
So yes, he was a stock market analyst. A technician. A master of the charts. A writer of books. Every weekend of my life until just a few years ago, he’d take out a stack of charts that map the ups and downs of individual stocks, take out his pencil and a ruler, and mark up the trend lines.
He did very well. But I don’t think it was his reading of charts alone that brought him to the attention of investors and financial pundits.
It was also because my father was a gifted writer, and, more importantly, an iconoclast, “a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions,” according to Merriam-Webster. (He also used to call himself an anarchist, but that’s another story.) He was an iconoclast in his heart and in his soul, and he brought this sensibility to writing about the stock market. He integrated his thinking on world events, on literature, on philosophy, on contemporary culture. He was skeptical about conventional thinking on the markets. His writer’s voice made him unique.
I started with that because the career is the easy part. The man is much harder.
So I’ll just say this straight out. For much of his life, my father was, some would say, feisty. Others might use harsher words. There’s no doubt that he was, as they say today, “challenging.” He tested people with barbs and teasing, sometimes it seemed he would judge their character by the way they responded. In later years he proudly called himself a curmudgeon. He was proudly right.
Sometimes I marveled at his chutzpah and insight. When I was young and impressionable, I’d watch him go to important meetings on Wall Street wearing an inside-out t-shirt.
When we were all devastated by the events of September 11th, he was the first person I wanted to call. “Well,” he said, with his usual insight, “We’re all Israel now.”
I could go on, but instead let me get to the one thing I probably know most about: My father was also iconoclastic as a parent — for many years he was our primary parent. During a time when men expected to have dinner on the table when they came home from work, he came home from work and put dinner on the table. But as was his wont, his parenting meant so much more than making sure there was food to eat. That was where his parenting began, but not where it ended.
The best way for me to illustrate what I mean by this is to read an excerpt from a blog I wrote for work a few years ago for Father’s Day:
“When I was 7 years old my father took me to see a Neil Simonesque Broadway comedy called ‘Luv.’ It was 1964. … I have vague memories of the show even today.…
“Watching the actors tell a story on a stage triggered my 7-year-old imagination. When we got home I sat down and wrote my own play, scrawled on a yellow legal pad. I showed it to my father and he immediately went to his rolltop desk and typed it up. Nothing could have made me feel more validated or taken seriously.”
That etched moment probably has more to do with who I became as a father than anything else. Without making the connection, I always felt determined to honor our son’s passions and tried to take them seriously. I tried in my own way to type them up.
There are other examples: When I was in high school and getting ready for a tennis tournament, he wrote notes to my school that said, “Please excuse Josh early today. He has an appointment in court.”
This was actually credible, because when I was in 6th grade he and my mother filed a lawsuit on my behalf seeking to establish that students have Constitutional Rights. I’ll never forget something he said to a reporter at the time, “They teach kids about the First Amendment, but then they tell them, ‘This doesn’t apply to you.’”
Many years ago, when I was a young
adult, my father told me he needed to talk. I met him down by his apartment
near the South Street Seaport, where he was living after his divorce from my
mother. We sat in his car during a torrential rain and he told me he was going
to remarry. He told me he was going to have another child.
I’m not gonna lie. This wasn’t an easy moment for me. To me, my father was already an old man. Why would he want to do that? I was worried about him; but I was also freaked out about what that might mean to me. Maybe I was going to be replaced, no longer the youngest child, the receiver of his treasured attention.
He explained it all to me. He told me how he deserved to be happy. At that stage in my life I still didn’t get it. (I do now.) But somewhere in all the storm, I heard an answer that stuck with me. I don’t remember his exact words, but basically he said, “being a father was the one thing I was good at.”
What I said then wasn’t very nice, but the phrase that comes to mind now is a prompt from what I understand to be one of the rules of improvisation. “Yes, and…”
Yes, he was. And … he was also a talented writer and a playwright. And …. He was a well-known stock market technician. And … he was a husband. … And he was a reader of literature and philosophy and whatever else struck his fancy. And … he had a taste for contemporary atonal and dissonant music … And … he was an athlete, who played semi-pro baseball, senior tennis tournaments, and became, late in life, an avid skier.
He was a person who always challenged himself to learn more, dive deeper, and rarely took the conventional route. These paths almost always led to a worthy destination.
It hasn’t always been easy. Early in life he had to find the strength and will to overcome some difficult circumstances. He was quick to recognize wrongs and slights and injustices, and was compelled to confront them when he did. But as any iconoclast will tell you, easy is not what living a full life is about.
OK, well, I was going to end this piece here. But sitting next to him on Saturday and listening to his final breaths I thought of something else.
Losing someone we love is sad, and we mourn, and we miss. As I sat beside him, I wrestled with the terrible thought that this was not how I want to remember him. I want to remember how much he enjoyed the gelato in Florence. I want to remember our first Marx Brothers movie together. I want to remember the thrill of the time we played tennis in Central Park when, for the first time, both of us felt like we were hitting the ball really well. Or driving across country together — twice. I want to remember taking a walk in the hills around Palm Springs and talking through a tough time I was having. (I had decided to quit the tennis team in college, and was scared of how he might react. He said, “good,” and we ended up having a nice walk together.) I want to remember his life, not his death. I want to turn this sad occasion into a celebration of his life.
Perhaps one of the most important things of all that I want to remember is that despite all the emotional ups and downs and challenges and harsh words, somehow he did the least expected thing of all. He showed me, and taught me, how to love.
Noah spoke eloquently from his notes, about our father’s relationship with his birth name (Jacob) and his wrestling with what it means to be Jewish. Which is kind of the like the TV Guide synopsis of a complex, multi-season drama. I hope to be able to post something from Noah in the near future.
The following was published in the Newark Star-Ledger because, as my father would have wanted me to point out, The New York Times is insanely expensive.
Justin Enoch Mamis, a leading stock market analyst/technician, died at his home In Watchung, NJ on September 22nd.
The author of three well-regarded books on the stock market, When to Sell (co-written with his brother Robert), How to Buy, and The Nature of Risk, he was also the co-founder, with Stan Weinstein, of the influential stock market periodical The Professional Tape Reader. Later he founded his own Mamis Letter, before retiring in 2014. Barron’s called When to Sell “a classic among the cognoscenti who know that selling discipline is the least appreciated, and perhaps most difficult, of investment decisions.”
Mamis eschewed traditional stock market analysis, and instead kept painstaking records of stock activity through charting. He “saw portents of change in trend lines of stocks,” as Bloomberg News put it. When he retired, several market letters and columnists published tributes to his 50+ year career as a market forecaster and technical analyst.
Born Feb. 18, 1929 in Providence Rhode Island, and raised in Newton Centre, Mass., Mamis attended Yale, where he was named Scholar of the House, graduating in 1950. After serving as a Second Lieutenant in the Korean War, he published a novel, Love (Stein & Day, 1964) to excellent reviews. As a young playwright he was a member of the prestigious New Dramatists in New York City.
Mamis’ first marriage, to Nancy Braverman, ended in divorce. He is survived by wife Susan Fry Mamis and four children: Toby Mamis, Lisa Obrist-Mamis with husband Jürg Obrist, Joshua Mamis with wife Julie Fraenkel, and Noah Mamis with fiancé Jason Ziplow, and grandsons Max Mamis and Sacha Obrist.
Mamis was a semi-pro baseball player, a ranked senior tennis player, and an avid skier. An iconoclast and a fighter, Mamis fought hard against Alzheimer’s until the very end. Much loved, he will be sorely missed.
Services will be Tuesday, September 24 at 11 AM, at Temple Sinai, 208 Summit Avenue, Summit NJ.