Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

For information on partnering with, please contact us.

Pass deceased wife's business to son

 My wife, who ran a small separate business within my larger company, recently died. She had several contracts that would have run another few years, but I didn't have the heart to take over her company, find a new manager, and keep it going. I called the clients and said we were closing those doors and they were free to hire someone else. My son, who was recently laid off, was very angry and told me I should have taken him in to run it. I don't want a family fight. I know I wasn't thinking straight, but I didn't consider him because he had no experience in that work. Now I wonder if there's a way to salvage this situation.

Ans. First tell your son that since he hadn't worked in the business, you didn't think of him heading it. But he probably can learn with your supervision and you owe that to him. Although you are saddened by the loss of your wife, he is saddened over the loss of his mother, and you need each other. Call those former customers and explain that because of your grief, you acted too quickly, but now you're re-organizing and would appreciate it if they reconsider the contracts. Next sit your son at the phone to start cold calling for new business. If he can succeed at that, he'll have a business and you'll have your son back.

First jobs rarely become careers

Real reasons why elderly don't retire