My law partner and friend Kenneth D. Jameson in May 2011 as a result of a long struggle with depression. Ken was important to a lot of people, his wife, his children, his extended family, his law partners, his clients and his friends. He was a friend to everyone who got to know him. Unfortunately, he lived with a secret that was so insidious that he was eventually left with no choice, but to take a leave of absence from the practice of law and seek psychiatric treatment. Ken had depression. For how long, no one knows. Those who worked a long side him had little clue except that he had insomnia and difficulty concentrating. Most people in his life were not aware of the magnitude or severity of his suffering. His wife, Betsy, however, knew all too well.
After Ken’s suicide, most people suffered shock and a sense of guilt for not doing enough to save Ken. The reality is, no one could save him. In Ken’s case, he was the only person who could dig himself out. Unfortunately, toward the end of his life, his depression turned to despair and in his mind he did the only thing that seemed to fix the situation. He committed suicide. Ken was the ultimate fixer as anyone who knew him will attest. Does this mean he was weak? No. Does it mean that he didn’t love his family? No. He was ill. He had a disease which many people suffer from in silence – A silence which is created by fear and shame.
Since his death, much has happened in his family. His daughter received her master’s degree; his son cheered at OSU football games and Final Four Basketball games, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays have been celebrated. Ken’s family has somehow managed to go on without him as have those of us who worked alongside him. No one will ever forget him and his name is mentioned often by his colleagues family and friends. Yet, life goes on for those of us left behind.
Because of his death, I first approached the Cincinnati Bar Association in July 2011 about health and well-being education and support programing for attorneys. I was delighted when Cincinnati Bar Association accepted my suggestions. The Health and Well-Being Committee was formed in January of 2012 and our works is well underway. But that isn’t all that happened. Ken’s wife and best friend, Betsy Jameson, had an idea. She wanted to find a way to memorialize her husband to provide a legacy for his children and his family, to help create something good out of a mind shattering tragedy. Her idea was to set up a fund to financially support the Health and Well Being Committee. So, with the help of the Cincinnati Bar Foundation, the Kenneth D. Jameson Health and Well-being Fund was officially established on June 27, 2012.
The fund was set up with an initial donation of $25,000 by Betsy Jameson and her children. The fund is open to donations from inside and outside the legal community. The hope is to have additional donations to add up to $100,000 within five years. The fund’s use is restricted to the goals of the Health and Well-Being Committee and will allow the committee to provide services to attorneys including a lunch time lecture series, support group services, law student outreach and etc. This funds support is allowing an acceleration of the committee’s activities and is helping change the legal community in Cincinnati and in Ohio.
As for Ken’s legacy, I can think of no better way to memorialize someone who embodied the dedication, commitment and kindness that our profession needs. I hope that the work of the Cincinnati Bar Association Health and Well-being can help others who struggle with the disease that plagued my friend and that our actions can give hope and education to a profession that so desperately needs it.
If you would like to contribute to the Kenneth D. Jameson Health and Well-being fund you may do so by visiting the Cincinnati Bar Foundation website by clicking here. Be sure to add the Jameson Fund to your donation description. Or, you may send funds clearly marked as Ken Jameson Fund to the Foundation at the following address: Cincinnati Bar Foundation; The Cincinnati Bar Center 225 East Sixth Street, Second Floor Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-3209 attn: Rene T. McPhedran, Director.