A most interesting article pops from above the fold in this morning Wall Street Journal. It is a sad one.
Periodically in the past year, Abdulfattah “John” Jandali would shoot off an email to Steve Jobs, the son he never met. They were simple notes: “Happy Birthday” or “I hope your health is improving.”
It is unclear if Jobs ever wrote back. A person close to Jobs’ family said, no, he didn’t, while Jandali said he did receive two short replies. The last one arrived six weeks before Jobs’ death, Jandali said, and said simply, “Thank you.”
For Jandali, aside from the iPhone 4 he carries, his story of the emails is pretty much all he has of a son who co-founded Apple Inc. and grew into one of the world’s most famous businessmen, The Wall Street Journal reported in its Monday edition.
Jandali, 80, the general manager of the Boomtown casino in the barren hills outside Reno, Nev., presides over a staff of around 450 casino workers and is praised by his colleagues for his quiet leadership style and a marketing savvy.
“I can’t take credit for my children’s success,” said Jandali, who is also the father of the celebrated novelist Mona Simpson. Jobs was put up for adoption as a baby. Jandali said he had almost no contact with him and also has a strained relationship with Simpson.
Jandali’s close friends say the estrangement with his children has been a source of great sadness over the years. He kept the fact of his famous offspring private from even those closest to him for fear of being perceived as someone seeking to ride their coattails.
With crinkled eyes and white hair surrounding a balding head, Jandali has a physical resemblance to Jobs. A side table in his office prominently features a framed publicity shot of Simpson that Jandali said he downloaded from the internet.
He said he learned of Jobs’ death on Wednesday at the office, when a stranger called to offer condolences. He quickly hung up the phone. “It was not a shock,” Jandali said. “Basically all you feel is sadness.”
Jandali only learned around 2005 that Jobs was his biological son. After that, Jandali began watching online videos of Jobs’ famous keynote speeches launching Apple products. He emailed a few times in the past year after becoming aware of Jobs’ failing health.
“I don’t know why I emailed,” Jandali said. “I guess because I felt bad when I heard about the health situation. He had his life and I had my life, and we were not in contact. If I talked to him, I don’t know what I would have said to him.”
Jobs, who was born in San Francisco in 1955, said in the speech that in fact his birth mother finally agreed that he be adopted by Paul Jobs, a high-school dropout who became a machinist, and Clara Jobs, who never graduated from college. He grew up near San Francisco. While Jobs acknowledged he had a relationship with his birth mother and sister, he did not publicly discuss Jandali.