Lover of Laughter
Bernard E. Patterson's first job interview on Wall Street, in the early 1980's, went something like this, according to his wife, Navila: "Do you have anyone who works on the street?" John J. Kenny, the founder of J.J Kenny, a municipal bond brokerage, asked the recent college graduate.
"What does he mean, `Do I have anyone who works on the street?' " Mr. Patterson said to himself, according to Mrs. Patterson. "Apparently, Mr. Kenny saw the confusion on his face."
"No, I mean Wall Street," Mr. Kenny reportedly said.
No wonder. Mr. Patterson was concentrating on ignoring Mr. Kenny's shoes. The elderly financial wizard was wearing one black shoe and one brown shoe, Mrs. Patterson said.
"He didn't know if he should say anything," she said. "He didn't know if it was the thing to do. He just ignored it."
He got the job, but it was unclear if it was because he ignored the mismatched shoes. Mr. Patterson, known as Bernie, frequently told the story at dinner parties and at home in Oyster Bay, N.Y., to his children — Kevin, 12; Scott, 10; and Anna, 5 — who laughed hysterically. After working at J. J. Kenny, he helped start the firm Municipal Partners, which he and his partners sold to Cantor Fitzgerald about a year before Sept. 11, said Richard McCord, a friend.
Mr. Patterson, 46, loved a good laugh. "Whenever my wife told me that we were going to a dinner party, I would always ask if Bernie was going to be there," Mr. McCord said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on Sunday, March 31, 2002.