In memory of Jon Bauman (”Arthur Andersen”)
Monday, Jan 7, 2019
Posted by Barton Lorimor
* Jon Bauman, the loyal aid to former Gov. Jim Thompson who rose to the highest ranks of the Teachers Retirement System, died Saturday morning at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield after an unsuspecting illness took a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse. He was 62 years old.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced, and they are likely to be made in his given name instead of the one we all knew him by in Capitol Fax comments: Arthur Andersen.
The Bauman family said memorials may be made to the “Bauman Education Fund” maintained at Carrollton Bank. The proceeds have been used to help pay for his kids’ education, which Jon cared for and supported through to his passing.
“AA” was a frequent contributor here - serving as a resident pension expert given his extensive background in the subject as Chief Investment Officer and later Executive Director at TRS. His family shared with me they sometimes found their Dad groggy in the morning because he had pulled an all-nighter reading reports, articles, and preparing notes in anticipation of a day that would be heavily spent keeping the discussion in the Capitol Fax comments informed and on-track.
As Oswego Willy put it as we chatted off-line yesterday…
To wit, AA recently said in response to a question about which former governor we admired most…
* He took his work seriously, though was more than ready to share his tremendous sense of humor. Even after Jon’s forced departure from TRS, AA would so pointedly reference his own run-ins with federal investigators and swindlers that on more than one occasion I called or messaged him to make sure he was not blowing his own cover.
When he was on, he was on. You really did not want to disagree with his facts and figures. If you were, chances are you were wrong. AA was also a great teacher, and took the time to explain without judgement the complex world of investments to those of us ignorant of crucial details.
Aiding him through most of the obscurities of state finance and pension law was an impressively sharp memory. I remember catching up with him not long after I took an appointment in the IDES Director’s Office managing internal policies and procedures. He regaled an instance back in the 1980s when he was running, what is now, the Bureau of Property Management and trying to establish a multi-agency office in East St. Louis. In full detail, he was able to recall how the project was made complicated by this rule, that law, and how this property manager was not a qualified vendor because of this procedure, etc.
It was amazing, and yet another reminder of how valuable his analysis was on the blog.
* While “Arthur” was an insightful read in comments and heckler-in-arms on Twitter, Jon was someone I considered a friend. He would accept my lunch invitations from time to time when our schedules aligned, and he was my first phone call whenever I had the blog and something broke in the pension realm. He was fun to be around, to text, or DM in the middle of the night when the news was just too hot to switch off at an acceptable hour.
Jon was a great story teller, and he was notorious for saving the very best for the very end. One of my favorites that I have (unsuccessfully) tried to retell is one that starts with a salesman and his assistant coming to town and ends with, “And that’s how the stock market works.”
Another memorable one was from his days at TRS. The bulk of it was about a Chicago-based investment company on the verge of losing its bid to manage some of the system’s portfolio until one of its partners presented at a board meeting in Springfield. It ended with, “And that’s how I met Bruce Rauner.”
* I called him out of the blue the week before Christmas to see if he might be available for lunch. Unfortunately, but not all that surprising given the spontaneity of the plan, that did not happen. We had hoped to connect just after the holidays. He had no idea how sick he was when I talked to him, nor, according to those who were with him, did he when he slipped into unconsciousness. He excitedly told me about his plans to be with his family and taking in every moment he could with his grandchildren.
Here is the last photo he posted on Facebook…
* “His life was full of us – his kids,” his daughter Molly said yesterday. “We never wondered if our parents were proud of us.”
Jon is survived by his four children, Jon (Emily) Bauman of Virginia Beach, Va., Molly Irwin (Erick) of Springfield, Emily Bauman, who is pursuing a Masters of Social Work at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Megan Bauman, who is a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and two grandchildren, two-year-old Hendrick Irwin and four-month-old Elliana Bauman. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Erin Bauman.
* A suggestion for commenters who knew Jon throughout his life: As you can tell from the photo above, he was a fiercely proud grandfather. His grandchildren are young, so they might appreciate learning one day from you who their grandfather was, why he meant so much to us, and what traits of his you hope to emulate.