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Book details
  • SubGenre:Rich & Famous
  • Language:English
  • Pages:384
  • eBook ISBN:9780988412644

Triumphs and Tragedies

A True Story of Wealth and Addiction

by Karl B. McMillen, Jr. and Bill Hayes

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Karl McMillen, Jr., deserved a piece of the Pacific paradise. He’d plumbed his way up from screw-fittings and sweat into mega-business ownership and multi-millions. He’d earned the azure-awesome view that he woke to every magical morning. And he’d earned the ideal family at his side. A dynamic wife and two bright, talented sons with sky’s-the-limit potential. But that storm… He never saw it coming. It hit hard and it hit fast. The grinding gales of addiction ripped apart everything he had. How do you go from planning exotic family vacations and evaluating real estate investments to planning prison visits and evaluating rehab centers and criminal defense pleas? How do you watch your surfer-champion sons transform into drug lords? Inmates? How do you watch your entire family die, one by one? Triumphs and Tragedies: A True Story of Wealth and Addiction chronicles top-of-the-world success juxtaposed against a downside of life no one should have to abide. A side that proves that some things, money cannot buy.
Hermosa Beach, California, in the mid-1960s. Sun, surf, swanky sand castles along The Strand, and a soundtrack of “Fun, Fun, Fun.” But the hang-loose life of the locals would soon be drowned out and painted black. The social storm brewing could turn even the most perfect wave into a brutal riptide. How do you go from planning exotic family vacations and evaluating real estate investments to planning prison visits and evaluating rehab centers and criminal defense pleas? How do you watch your surfer-champion sons transform into drug lords? Inmates? How do you watch your entire family die, one by one? And yet never stop fighting. What does it take to look in the mirror and search for the meaning of enabler? To face that you’re sacrificing your own livelihood for Scotch? To ride a sheer, pounding wave of triumphs and tragedies, and then pull out and paddle back for more? It takes a rare and special person: Karl McMillen. Karl McMillen is America’s hard work ethic. He’s the guy Thomas Jefferson said will “determine never to be idle.” Babe Ruth’s “person who never gives up.” Triumphs and Tragedies opens with a feral panorama of early twentieth century California; a last-gasp look at the West before it was “settled.” When hard work was still a fundamental, and “entitlement” just meant you were entitled to work your tail off. Karl’s success epitomizes that the cleanest hands in business are the ones that smeared the most elbow grease on their way up. Karl worked, and the system worked. Karl was said to have the “Golden Touch.” But some systems break down; especially social systems. California—and all of America—changed as the wild wave of the 1960s swept so much of the country’s youth into the deep murkiness of drugs. Plenty of adults were plunged into realms over their heads, too. Karl encountered something his never-say-die work ethic and Golden Touch could not conquer: Addiction. But Karl fought to apply his abilities to this strange new subject. Working hard now meant gathering data about the destructive force of drugs and analyzing treatments. It was a task he had the unique mental resolve and physical resources to undertake. And he uncovered so much. Triumphs and Tragedies explores the down-and-dirty psychology of addiction through live “voices from the street.” It probes the essence of enabling and the value of “rehabs”—neither of which were common concepts in the sixties. It tests the senses, demonstrating how a perfect life can be traded for pain; but how that pain can translate into a strong antidote against one of society’s greatest ills.
About the author
Born in 1928, Karl McMillen, Jr., grew up in a young and developing Southern California. From an early age, Karl displayed a drive for greatness; working odds-and-ends jobs, soaking up knowledge and skillsets from every available source. Karl began plumbing tract houses in Southern California as a partner in Alert Plumbing. He went on to distribute plumbing supplies all throughout Southern California and Las Vegas as the owner of Todd Pipe & Supply, which grew to nine locations and employed over four hundred dedicated employees. Through Karl’s hard work, dedication, and commitment to his employees and customers, the success of Todd Pipe became legendary. Karl’s story of business success is counterbalanced by the emotional deaths of his wife to cancer and of both his sons, who spent most of their lives battling substance abuse. Karl, too, has struggled with alcoholism and proudly carries his seventeen-year sobriety chip. Karl’s efforts to save his sons from drugs is a saga in itself, as he experienced firsthand the trials and errors of early rehab programs in the late 1960s and early ’70s. It was this experience, coupled with his sons’ struggles and deaths that drove Karl McMillen to the incredible philanthropy he is known for today. After re marrying in 2007, Karl and his wife Carol started The McMillen Family Foundation, which supports a long list of organizations dedicated to aiding those who suffer from substance abuse. To date, the McMillen Family Foundation has donated over $12 million towards the battle against drug and alcohol addiction.
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