On May 4, 2016 the HCBA and the 4th Judicial District held the annual Bar Memorial where the memorials for members of the profession who passed in the prior year are presented, celebrated and then archived with the court. This time-honored event stands as one of the HCBA’s most important traditions. As president of the HCBA, it was my honor to provide remarks at this event. These remarks are below.
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Thank You and Good Morning and May it Please the Court:
As I thought about my words for today, I considered my typical paths to inspiration. Those of you who have read my blog know I tend to look to literature and pop culture for thematic ideas. As I read the wonderful memorials celebrating the lives of our colleagues, Neil Diamond's Hello Again, a 1980's ballad from the movie The Jazz Singer popped into my head.
The song concludes:
Hello, my friend, hello
Just called to let you know
I think of about you every night
And I know it's late
But I couldn't wait
While clearly a love song, the simple grace of these words, especially if you can hear them in your head sung by Neil Diamond with his unforgettable voice, sets a tone for today and why we are here. We can say to each of the lawyers whose lives we honor and celebrate today.
Hello, my friend, hello.
But the men and women we are celebrating today were more than just our figurative friends. Said best in a quote memorializing Gene Henning, these lawyers are part of our lives and our profession:
“If to be loved by your family, if to be strong in your faith, if to be admired for your talents, if to be esteemed by your friends, if to be beloved for your generosity and kindness -- can gratify the human mind you must have the pleasing consolation to know that you have lived an exemplary life, have won the hearts of your countrymen, and have made the world a better place. Please be assured that so long as we retain our memories, you will be recollected with respect, admiration, and deep affection by your sincere friends who have known and worked with you.”
This is what this morning is about—a chance to gather, to remember, and to honor; and a chance to share the stories of the lives of our remarkable colleagues.
Today we remember 49 men and women. All of whom had families and friends. Many of whom not only had children, but grand-children and great grand-children. Many of whom lived long lives, (one to the age of 104) while some passed away too early. All of them, of course, were members of the legal profession but many also had professional experiences in business, government, the academy and even professional sports. I break from tradition and leave the specifics of their stories for each of you to read.
For their stories are best told by the family members, friends and professional colleagues who wrote each memorial. Their stories remind me of a favorite line from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass:
I SING the Body electric;
The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them;
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them,
and charge them full with the charge of the Soul.
You see, those that we celebrate today lived personal and professional lives charged with soul. They embodied what is best about our profession and the people who populate it. The stories of their remarkable journeys and the lives that they touched provide us with inspiration. So as you read the memorials, please consider the inspirational lives of our colleagues and friends that will become part of this Honorable Court’s archives.
Our friends, our family members, our colleagues will live on in our memories. So to all those we celebrate and honor today:
Hello, my friends, hello!
View 2016 Bar Memorial Booklet