Remembrance from Patricia Hewitt

Jerry was simply one of the most extraordinary and inspiring people I’ve ever known. We first met nearly forty years ago, when I was in my 20’s and serving as general secretary of Britain’s National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty). Jerry had helped organize and lead a delegation to investigate human rights abuses in Northern Ireland, including internment without trial and Bloody Sunday. And he was one of the rare men in the legal profession who passionately supported women’s rights and opportunities. He was always generous with his advice, introductions to friends and wonderful gifts of books … not to mention the succession of jokes – often against the legal profession – that were a feature of every phone call and meeting.

Jerry and Marcia-Rose became close friends of my husband, William Birtles, and myself and we always enjoyed their company on their regular visits to London and our less frequent ones to Philadelphia. Jerry was delighted when our daughter, Alex, developed a passion for the classics and overwhelmed her with gifts of books, often from his own collection. When she was admitted to Princeton, they could not have been kinder … accommodating not only the three of us in their beautiful apartment, but finding space for Alex’s luggage as well and sending us off to Princeton in their car. I still treasure the memory of sitting with Jerry and Marcia-Rose on their terrace looking out over a beautiful Philadelphia evening.

We were so sad to see Jerry’s health deteriorate. But we continued to correspond and to talk on the phone. Jerry loved words and went on writing beautiful letters, passionate articles and moving memoirs. In the last letter I had from him, earlier this year, he told me he was still the Court appointed Master in the Avandia Drug litigation – a case with 11 million documents! He was clearly delighted that the litigants had stopped appealing his decisions once they realized the trial judge always upheld him. But he also talked about his children and grand-children with deep love, delight and concern. Only briefly did he mention his fall in the snow and painfully cracked ribs.
He was a great man. Bill, Alex and I will miss him very much and we send our love and deep sympathies to Marcia-Rose, Jonathan, Jennifer and all the family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *