Honorable Cynthia M. Rufe Eulogy

Eulogy given in honor of
Jerome J. Shestack, August 21, 2011
Honorable Cynthia M. Rufe

To his beloved Marciarose, and Jonathan, Jennifer and your families, to his
many friends, relatives and admirers of the man named Jerome Shestack. To
those lawyers and judges who, like me, knew Jerry through his long years of
service to the law and to the legal profession. Today we remember the man
who did so much for so many, a man who honored the fullness of life as well
as law, a man who lived and worked with passion and dedication to the
noblest of principles, a lawyer whose clients included the wealthy and the
poor.

Jerome Shestack worked for four Presidents, starting with John F. Kennedy
in 1963 when he served as the first executive director of the “President’s
Committee for Civil Rights”. He was a pioneer in the human rights
movement, drafting programs for President Jimmy Carter and serving as
President of the International League for Human Rights and as the United
States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He
continued this important work for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George
Bush.

He founded the Philadelphia Community Legal Services Program which
served as the national model, creating the very protocol for pro bono
programs, instituting it in his own firm and teaching other law firms around
the country to organize their own programs.

In 1969, as Chair of the ABA Section of Individual Rights, he started the first
Women’s Committee, the first Native American Committee, and the first
Committee on International Human Rights. And when Jerry was elected
President of the American Bar Association, he continued to emphasize the
need for pro bono legal services, services and equal rights for the mentally
and physically disabled, racial and gender diversity, and international human
rights. While he was also an author, a lawyer extraordinaire, partner in
prestigious law firms, a consummate joke teller, lover of poetry, and devoted
family man, it will be his contributions to civil rights, human rights, mental
health, racial and gender equality and legal services to the poor that are
pivotal to the improvements of our society that are now his legacy.

Jerome Shestack lived his life in the law, and gave it his all, just as Benjamin
Cardozo described it to graduating law students in 1925:
“This is no life of cloistered ease to which you dedicate your
powers. This is a life that touches your fellow men at every angle
of their being, a life that you must live in the crowd, and yet apart
form it, man of the world and philosopher by turns.”
Benjamin N. Cardozo, “The Game of Law and its Prices” (speech
at Albany Law School commencement, 10 June 1925, in Law and
Literature 160, 175 (1931)

Along his busy way, Jerry found time to be a mentor. He made time to guide,
promote, educate, and inspire countless young men and women in the law.
Many of his mentees are women who with his support have found the ability
and confidence to reach into this profession and live it in some way as Jerry
did–with energy, confidence, commitment, excellence and passion. This is a
cause that both he and Marciarose shared–one of their many common efforts
to improve our world. They have both truly made a difference.

And this passionate advocate of equal rights for all was a great friend to the
Judiciary. For many years Jerry served on the American Bar Association
Committee on the Judiciary, performing countless evaluations of prospective
federal court nominees, such as myself. That is how we met. Jerry may have
been, on that occasion, his usual charming and disarming self, complete with
the overstuffed brief case and an introductory joke, but he performed the task
at hand with a serious sense of purpose. Jerome Shestack, the penultimate
attorney, only cared to put competent and fair persons into positions of
judicial power.

Jerome Shestack loved the law and he proved that love by using it to improve
individual lives, government and society. He spent countless hours, days,
years, a lifetime doing the right thing–and in the judicial context, in so doing,
he has assisted the Bar, the legal profession, the Bench and our system of
justice by maintaining the highest standards for judicial nominees–all to keep
the Third Branch of government strong and fair. On behalf of all the judges
and the courts that he has touched, in no small way, I thank him.
Fortunately, for the last four years I have had the opportunity to work closely
with Jerry. He served as Special Master to the Multi-District Litigation
assigned to me. He enjoyed the deepest respect of all counsel and the Court.
Using his skill, experience and intellect, he successfully guided this large
MDL through years of litigation. In his honor, a Memoriam Order is to be
filed into the Record to commemorate his contributions as Special Master, a
role that he performed in an exemplary manner. We mourn his loss.
Jerome Shestack, the author and Thomas Jefferson enthusiast, quoted John
W. Davis addressing the Virginia State Bar Association in 1926:
“In the heart of every lawyer worthy of the name there burns a
deep ambition so to bear himself that the profession may be
stronger by reason of his passage through its ranks and that he
may leave the law itself a better instrument of human justice than
he found it. To many a man fate denies the opportunity to realize
this desire, but it came to Jefferson in fullest measure. He
grasped it with furious energy.”

Jerome J. Shestack, Thomas Jefferson: Lawyer, 1998
With this Jeffersonian spirit, Jerry grasped the opportunity. Jerry’s energy
for law and justice was passionate; it was palpable; it excited those around
him and inspired all to do better. Jerome S. Shestack, Esquire has left the law
a better instrument of human justice than he found it. This is his legacy. For
my husband, Honorable John Rufe, myself, and countless other men and
women in the law, we will continue to love and admire you, Jerry, but we
will miss your spirit so very much.

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