by Ann Lentz

September 20, 2022

Back in the day, no executive worth his or her salt would dream of going into the office or a meeting without a briefcase. A hard-shell, rectangular box with two brass snap clasps and a monogram, the briefcase held all of an executive’s hard work – or at least a pad of paper and a felt-tip pen for taking notes.

Well, Dix & Eaton co-founder Henry Eaton had three briefcases over his nearly 50-year career. Henry was in the room to help craft his clients’ most important messages and counsel them through good times and bad. He was a trusted advisor to many CEOs in the Cleveland area, known as a great listener and confidant. His briefcase accompanied him to these high-level, high-stakes meetings.

Ann Lentz with Gary Pratt at a dinner
(Pictured: Ann Lentz and Gary Pratt)

When Henry retired from Dix & Eaton in 1999, he passed these briefcases (and the firm) on to our then- CEO, Scott Chaikin. When Henry died in 2003, Scott passed two of the briefcases on to long-time Dix & Eaton employees Gary Pratt and Gary Wells, both friends of Henry. When Gary Pratt retired in 2016, he passed Henry’s briefcase on to me during a speech at his retirement party.

Now, Henry’s hard-shell, rectangular box with two, brass snap clasps and his HFE monogram sit proudly in my office – a symbol of the legacy that Henry Eaton built. A symbol of integrity and trust. A piece of Dix & Eaton’s storied history. I am honored and proud to have received it and to continue to be reminded of what it means to all of us who knew and respected Henry.