On Friday, December 14 at 2:36 a.m. PST, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of San Diego. The quake was only seven miles below sea level, according to the USGS (the U.S. Geological Survey), a shallow depth for tremors of that size, but that wasn’t the unusual part.
“The earthquake was different because it ruptured in a region that has no known fault line and where there aren’t large earthquakes,” UC San Diego seismologist Dr. Debi Kilb told NBC 7 San Diego.
I slept in a San Diego hotel, unaware of what was bubbling up underneath, and was awoken at 6 a.m. by a text from my wife.
“Did it wake you up?”
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Not knowing yet about the earthquake I texted back that only her text woke me up. My wife’s something of an amateur seismologist. I can’t say I blame her. She was asleep and had books and furniture ripped from the walls and crash down on her when the big quake devastated Northridge, Calif. in 1994. That quake, one of the worst in our nation’s history, leveled the Cal State Northridge campus and many surrounding areas, ultimately killing 60 people.
After I got up, I drove to an early morning meeting, where I sat in a conference room with San Diego-based advisor R. J. Kelly, founder and president of Wealth Legacy Family of Companies. As Kelly began to talk I placed my iPhone between us to record the conversation.
I’ve interviewed many advisors over the past five years, but none of those interviews went quite like this one. Kelly talked some about annuities, other safe products and various wealth strategies. But the conversation really turned when he talked about his various inspirations.
One of those, perhaps the chief one, is his wife, who is a survivor of The Killing Fields of Cambodia. Her early years were not unlike those of princesses in fairy tales. The family had untold wealth. Their home, Kelly tells me, would fetch $30 million to $40 million if it were plopped down in Southern California.
But the Khmer Rouge changed all that. They killed more than 100 members of Kelly’s wife’s extended family, including her father, who was executed in front of the family. The survivors then spent years in a prison camp where they were tortured.
As Kelly tells me this horrific tale, an alert flashes on my computer. “A gunman has opened fire in a Connecticut elementary school. Untold number of victims.” The headline is vague, at this point, but my throat constricts as thoughts race to my own daughter who I’d dropped off at her elementary school the day before in Colorado.