If you’ve followed our journey you know there is often a head-scratching, eye-popping, backstory that is sucked in by the energy released when someone shares with us a powerful experience of healing and connection with a loved one who has died and passed over. This was certainly the case with Jeff Phair and his heart-breaking and warming story I LOVE YOU, DAD. So, here you go.

I received an email in late July 2016 from Jeff Phair. The name did not immediately register with me. He contacted me through our Write Me Something Beautiful website. He did not know where I was working. This is relevant. He wrote

It has been several years since we have interacted. I was at a retirement party for a lawyer friend of mine a few nights ago. His law firm has represented me in San Diego for 35 years since we started the master planned community of Eastlake in the early 1980s. Your name came up in party conversation. So this morning I googled “Casey Gauntt” and stumbled on your website Write Me Something Beautiful. Reading your story of The Letter, your Dad, and you working in Coalwood, West Virginia was a déjà vu experience. It brought back a lot of memories. . . some good, some not so good. I’ve never shared my story with anyone. But having read how you’ve shared your feelings with the public, I felt it may be cathartic for me to do so with you. Here’s my story.

I remembered Jeff was someone in the real estate industry I had some dealings with in my law practice maybe 25 years ago. I’d had no contact with him since. In his email he mentioned his involvement in the Eastlake community in the 1980s. I was well aware of that huge housing and commercial development in Chula Vista, south of San Diego. I actually did some work on that deal back in the 1980s as an attorney for H.G. Fenton Company that owned all of the land, but I didn’t recall working with Jeff. And Jeff didn’t know that in 2013 I had retired from the practice of law and gone to work for H. G. Fenton as its Director of Shareholder Affairs.

The day after I received Jeff’s email and his amazing story, my assistant Renee came into my office all excited. She knew nothing about my email from Jeff the day before. We were working on a tribute film for Henry Hunte, the patriarch of the family that owns H.G. Fenton Company. She handed me a photo. “I think this would be great for the film.”

It was from a February 1986 newspaper article about a ground breaking ceremony for the Eastlake development in Chula Vista.
Four gentlemen are pictured with hardhats: Henry Hunte (the patriarch), two others who worked for H.G, Fenton (aka Western Salt Co) and…..you guessed it…JEFF PHAIR!

Jeff Phair!! Second from left February 1986

Jeff Phair

I have no idea how these things happen—but aren’t they fun?

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Author Bios

Write Me Something Beautiful Authors - Casey and Jimmy Gauntt

Casey Gauntt

is a retired attorney and former senior executive of a major San Diego real estate company. He lives in Solana Beach, California, with his wife, Hilary. Casey grew up in Itasca, Illinois, graduated Lake Park High School in 1968, and received B.S., JD and MBA degrees from the University of Southern California.

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Jimmy Gauntt

was born and raised in Solana Beach and graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 2002.   A prestigious Trustee Scholar at the University of Southern California, he majored in English and Spanish. He authored six plays, five screenplays, and a multitude of poems and short stories. Beginning in 2010, the USC English Department annually bestows the Jimmy Gauntt Memorial Award—aka “The Jimmy”—to the top graduates in English.  Jimmy passed over to the other side in 2008 at age 24.

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