As big as the Kilpatrick trial is, life is bigger - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

As big as the Kilpatrick trial is, life is bigger

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We've had a couple moments during this trial that have reinforced the importance of setting the right priorities in our lives – you know, those precious few hours that DON'T involve sitting on hard benches and trying to make sense of the work of lawyers who seem like their idea of a good time is finding a cat in the dark and arguing over which shade of gray it is.

The first reminder occurred last month in the courtroom, when attorney Gerald Evelyn – a workaholic with a reputation for putting his clients' needs ahead of even his own physical well-being – fell ill. Thankfully, his collapse identified a treatable condition while providing an indisputable warning that he needs to take better care of himself. He's back in court, back on top of his game and, hopefully, squeezing in a few hours sleep on a regular basis.

The second reminder occurred this week and is more subtle, coming in the form of narrow, elastic black bands wrapped around the badges of court security officers throughout the courthouse.

The bands honor their brother, Mike Jastremski, a tall, quiet man with a fondness for word games and puzzles.

He reportedly also had a keen eye for stray bottles and cans (and their 10-cent bounties).

His tidy appearance was betrayed only by the unruly strands of wiry gray hair on his pate, which gave rise to good-natured ribbing and the nickname "Kramer." He was also known as "Fish," for his vague resemblance to Abe Vigoda, who played Det. Phil Fish on the 70s and 80s police sitcom "Barney Miller" and the short-lived spin-off "Fish." (Vigoda also starred as Tessio in "The Godfather," the film Kwame Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty discussed in their infamous text messages.)

Jastremski went home from work last week and didn't come back. He died in his sleep on Thanksgiving.

His colleagues say he had no family, but it sure seems like he had plenty of friends.

CSOs spoke glowingly of a kind, shy man who had plenty to say, if someone engaged him.

His gentle nature even made an impression on some of the reporters who were regulars in the courthouse even before the former mayor, his father and their good friend Bobby Ferguson became regulars in the courthouse, too.

While Jastremski at some point in his life apparently expressed a preference that no one make a fuss over his passing – he will be cremated and there will be no formal services – his colleagues will celebrate his life Thursday evening at a local establishment. The agenda, like the honoree, will be focus on the simple things in life: food, beverages, stories.

I didn't know Jastremski at all. We both sat in the media room once, maybe twice, during the Kilpatrick Inc. trial. I don't recall whether we ever exchanged more than a polite nod.

But I know this much: Even people who live quiet lives, whether they realize it or not, touch people.

And while they may pass without a word, there are people who will miss them and speak well of them.

To me, that's as fine a tribute as any I can imagine. 

Follow M.L. Elrick's coverage of the Kilpatrick & Co. trial daily on FOX 2 and at www.myfoxdetroit.com. Contact him at ml.elrick@foxtv.com or via Twitter (@elrick) or Facebook. And catch him every Friday morning around 7:15 a.m. on Drew & Mike on WRIF, 101.1 FM. He is co-author of "The Kwame Sutra: Musings on Lust, Life and Leadership from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick," available at www.kwamesutra.com. A portion of sales benefit the Eagle Sports Club and Soar Tutoring. Learn more at www.eaglesports.com.

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