by John Darer
Yesterday I learned that my industry colleague Bill Tocchi, recently of Ringler Associates, lost his brave battle against Advanced Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) commonly called "Lou Gehrig's disease". Last June I wrote these words about Bill and thought it appropriate to republish them now.
I had a chance first meeting with Bill at the now defunct Boxing Cat Cafe in Greenwich Connecticut about 10 years ago, when coincidentally I went on a Match.com date with someone he worked with at the time. I found it amusing that he had the nickname of a "doobie" ("Toke"). I'm thinking how can anyone of a certain generation not get along with someone whose nickname reminds you of the proclivities of Cheech and Chong? I could see how it could be confusing. Let's say someone is trying to alert him and says "Hey Toke?". what are you supposed to respond? Yah mon sure!?
All kidding aside, I never saw Bill Tocchi "waste" a day. He always struck me as a structured settlement industry "ambassador", a man of dignity, a leader, influencer and mentor of others.
He could be gracious in defeat too. Once, after Bill contacting me several weeks after a large qualified settlement fund had been funded his opening line was "I guess I should have called you much earlier, huh?".
While most might think of Bill as a defense guy. he was an "early adopter" who recognized the value of structured settlement consultants representing plaintiffs. In fact, having seen him at a trial lawyer meeting years ago, I know he worked with some prominent plaintiff lawyers.
One of the reasons I find some of the relentless mischaracterizations of "the defense broker" so offensive at times, is in large part because of Bill Tocchi. I recall a specific instance when a particular broker at his firm was being particularly stubborn and unresponsive to working with a person who was representing a plaintiff in a particular transaction. Bill interceded as my envoy and related that he'd told the other broker "that's not how we do business".
Bill, along with 3 others, pioneered what was (at the time) a new structured settlement producer's business model, pooling production from producers and sources of business from multiple general agencies.
I met Bill for a drink and dinner at Brennan's in Stamford in 2007 to learn about his joining SFA as President and was very happy for him. Naturally he tried to recruit me and he almost succeeded.
Even after he lost his voice and has had to communicate electronically, I can still "hear" it. I've always enjoyed the banter. He has retained his wit throughout his battle and has busted my horns on a blog or two when he felt necessary.
I also came to learn about Bill as a good family man, one who isn't afraid to say " I love you" to his son Ben in a public forum. That shows you a little something about the man. There are others who know Bill better than I, BUT
To paraphrase Lou Gehrig, "the structured settlement industry is the luckiest on the face of the Earth" Bill, for having known you and had you as part of its family.
The irony that a die hard Boston Red Sox fan had to endure a disease that was named after a New York Yankee hero is not lost.
Good luck my friend, wherever your journey takes you".