Skip to main content

January 10th, 2024

The Man who sold Popcorn 

The Man who sold Popcorn: Well over a decade ago, we bought a food concessions company where the management team strongly suggested we retain one of the selling company’s board members, something we had never done, and pay him to serve on the board.  Then I learned that all monies being paid to the board member would not be going to him, but rather to a research foundation in Boston seeking to cure Cystic Fibrosis.  My curiosity grew so I called several of my Boston contacts to learn about Mr. Joe O’Donnell.  It turned out he was extremely well known and the deficit in my knowledge was my own fault.  Joe was a tremendous help and guiding wise man to the company we bought, but more significantly we became great friends.  We bonded over many things, his father and my grandfather were small town cops, we both played baseball, were huge sports fans, we both addressed problems head on in an unvarnished way and were trying to do some good with our hard-earned capital.  Joe and his wife, Kathy, raised over $500 MM for CF research, partnered with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and created a cure for CF.  I was simply in awe of the energy Joe put into this and the beautiful legacy he and Kathy created on behalf of their son, Joey, who they lost to CF nearly forty years ago. 

​One did not tiptoe into a friendship with Joe as you were simply tossed into the deep end of the pool learning about his activities, benefiting as he saw ways to help you any way he could, sharing laughs about outrageous political characters, golfing and jointly facing challenges.  In private equity, we have the good fortune to meet with a range of people, but none compare to the force of nature that was Joe O’Donnell.  If he was your friend, it was for life and he made your life richer.  RIP.

I’m Rob Morris and I approved this blog.

Back to Rob's Blog