Mary Fahey CPA passed away last week, at the age of 62. I heard the news yesterday, from a friend who, by dint of my recommending Mary, was also a client. I am compelled to write about Mary because she meant a great deal to me and I am deeply saddened by her sudden passing.
I went into business for myself in 2006, and have been working with Mary almost since the beginning. Mary was supremely competent, as well as very compassionate and helpful. Perhaps like many people new to business, I had immense gaps in knowledge regarding basic bookkeeping and taxes, and substantial fears about how to handle money in general. Mary spent hours with me to get me set up on the Quickbooks computer program so that I could basically function on my own. She dispelled a lot of the fears and doubts that I held about business, accounting, taxes, even numbers themselves. I don’t exaggerate in saying that she changed my life – she helped me to gain confidence as a solo operator. For that, I recommended her to several friends who also became her clients.
I think there is a special bond that forms between entrepreneurs and their accountants, particularly in times of economic hardship like these. It’s a bond of emotion, trust, faith. I can still hear her saying “you’re doing alright, kid.” Her support and guidance really mattered for me. Thanks to the good practices that Mary taught me, I even went through an IRS audit with no problems – the agent was very impressed with my record keeping and sent me home early with a pat on the back.
Mary handled the taxes of many people in the arts – and even those of people who have moved out of Illinois – over decades. She was a person of real substance and principle, someone I looked to as an anchor when things got rocky. Such people are rare in one’s life, and I want it to be known how special she was. Her obituary is here.