Spring 2005 • Issue 17, page 14

Profile: Marilyn Bessey

By Rense, Kirk*

(It has become a cliché to state that most persons in the receivership community arrived there by circuitous routes. But no person better personifies the truths behind such clichés than does Marilyn Bessey, whose life has been a movable feast of disparate experience and accomplishment. Here, in her own words, is a tantalizingly brief snapshot of her fascinating life.)

“The Long and Winding Road” — This title is a pretty good summation of my life and experiences so far, with plenty to go!

My forefathers, on both my Mother’s and Father’s sides of the family, arrived in Texas via Conestoga wagon. My Father’s wagon train was waylaid en route in the Dakotas, thereby accounting for my Blackfoot Indian ancestry. My Mother’s family settled in the area near today’s San Antonio. As a Daughter of the Alamo, I have taken my own children to that austere shrine to view their ancestors’ portraits hanging within the walls of the Alamo.

Both offspring of old Texas families, my adventurous parents moved further West through the early part of their marriage, eventually settling in the Southern California community of San Marino. I became involved in both photographic and fashion modeling while living in Southern California during my high school and undergraduate college years, and became active in both the New York and Los Angeles marketplaces.

Modeling provided many fascinating experiences; I had the pleasure of meeting and mingling with some of the icons of the fashion and entertainment world – Coco Chanel, John Huston, Richard Burton, Robert Goulet. One never to be forgotten experience was a job on the “Today Show” as a trapeze artist from the Ringling Brothers’ Barnum and Bailey Circus; I even performed in a benefit at Carnegie Hall alongside Martha Kostyra, now better know as Martha Stewart (she got in trouble in that show too!). But, my forever-Irish conservatism eventually prevailed: I decided life in the fashion fast lane would be short-lived, and that completing my college degree was a wiser path.

Upon graduating from the University of Arizona with a BS in Consumer Education and Microbiology (I discovered late in my college career the pleasures of studying micro-organisms, the world of petri dishes and laboratory research), I married my college sweetheart and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I attended graduate school there at the University of New Mexico while working with Peace Corps participants being trained and deployed from UNM.

During these years my father “Tex” Richards opened a chain of stores in Northern California that were the first mass merchandise stores in the United States (similar to today’s Wal-Mart). My husband and I returned to California and joined the family business, he in management and I as financial officer and merchandise buyer. Our two children were born during these fun years. Then my father became ill, the stores were sold, and we all moved on to different careers and life styles.

I completed my graduate course studies in Consumer Economics at UC Davis, taught college for several years. In 1983 I was recruited by a regional bank to develop a Consumer Education Banking Program for seniors. This provided my initial introduction to the world of banking as well as my introduction to my future husband, John Bessey.

Three years later I was completely entrenched in providing financial services and products to bankruptcy fiduciaries — Chapter 7, 11, and 13 trustees. Then, as a result of the creation by Congress of the United States Trustee Program, in 1995 I was given the task of developing a case management/financial management software application to be marketed nationwide to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustees. I worked with my son, Scott, and his future wife, Kim, in developing the first “BriefCase Software” application, and the world of software development became a reality for us. Our BriefCase application was extremely successful and, much to my amusement at the time, I was heralded as having “broken the glass ceiling” in the world of banking.

But with that achievement came loss, as John Bessey passed away in 1999. I left my city lifestyle for the country the following year, moving to a lovely southern “Tara” home located on the Sacramento River — the California Delta as it is called. I now live on an island that is part of a town, population 600, and have acres of pear orchard surrounding my home. We also have cherries and kiwis on Sutter Island and I make jams, jellies and pies. I love it, it is so peaceful. Yet I can be in my office on Sacramento’s Capitol Mall in less than 30 minutes. The best of both worlds.

I marketed, developed, and managed the BriefCase Fiduciary Products and accompanying services for the owning banks until 2002 when the President of First Bank, Terry McCarthy, asked if I knew of anyone interested in taking over (purchasing) the BriefCase product line and letting the Bank be their customer. I replied, “I certainly do,” and the sale of the BriefCase product line to our Fiduciary Management Technologies, Inc. (“FTM”) corporation was quickly completed.

Today, three years later, our company is active as a receiver/referee and our FMT BriefCase of products has expanded further with the development and diversification of our software applications: BriefCaseCM, available in both desktop and browser based versions, used by receivers, disbursing agents, assignees, referees, and adjustment bureaus; applications for the Chapter 13 office–“Ch13 Data Direct,” “Chapter7.net,” “Chapter 11 Claims Portfolio” (used in claims management, noticing, and distribution modeling for the smallest to the very largest of cases); and, finally, “The Paperless Office”, a product to convert the fiduciary office into a paperless environment.

My son and partner Scott Sackett, my daughters Lisa and Kim, our FMT staff and I are consistently moving forward to develop, customize, and utilize leading edge technology to provide the most efficient, user-friendly applications for our industry.

I have many joys in life — my family and my friends. But involvement in both professional and community service-based organizations as a volunteer has also been of great importance to me. Giving back to one’s community and to one’s profession for the betterment of both is a principle instilled in me in my days at San Marino High School, where volunteerism was a requirement; with the University of Arizona Delta Gammas, where it was a requirement; and with the Junior League, where it is a requirement. I am the Past President of the Sacramento Valley Bankruptcy Forum, the Sacramento Valley Receivers Forum, the Sacramento County Legal Auxiliary and the Secret Service “Say No To Drugs” Program. I have been active with the Sutter Hospitals Community Board, the Cystic Fibrosis Volunteers, and the Sacramento Delta Gamma Alumnae.

My volunteer involvement continues today as President of the California Bankruptcy Forum, Treasurer of the California Receivers Forum, Chairman of the Board of the Northern California Child and Family Institute for Abused Children, and with the Leadership Council for the UC Davis Medical School.

Where will my “winding road” lead next? Admittedly, I have omitted a few detours along the way: Kitty Kelley and a birthday cake; a Rose Parade; an extortion scheme with very protective FBI agents – some good memories, some not so pleasant experiences. I look forward to the changes coming in our fiduciary industry and the opportunities they will afford our company to expand and grow. There will be new challenges, but this diversity is why I enjoy our business so much. I love the creative stimulus of new challenges, developing new solutions to new problems, and take pride and satisfaction in knowing we provide the best possible services to our clients – and finally, in the many friendships I’ve made in my personal and professional life.