Remarks from Albert L. Stern, Jr.
Albert L. Stern Jr. (Al) is Bob's brother
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How would you like to go to school, go into a class, and have your teacher say, "Are you the brother of Bob Stern?"
I said, "Yes." (laughter)
And he said, "Well, I expect you to do as well as he did."
So, of course, I flunked the course. (laughter)
Now, Helen, I want to tell you something. At Bob's 50th anniversary celebration, we had it at this hotel. And when we finished, Bob went to pay the bill, and he gave them his credit card. They said it wasn't any good (laughter). I told Bob -- and I was so proud, that was so wonderful -- I said, "Bob, I have a credit card, it's all right, use mine." He looked at me -- well, he didn't use mine, he had another credit card -- but that was one of the big moments of my life (laughter).
I want to read you an excerpt from a letter that was written by our mother on Bob's 33rd birthday:
That September 18th 33 years ago certainly was a lucky day in our lives, Bob. You are not to be congratulated as much as we are. I value you very deeply, love you, am proud of you, and overjoyed that Dad and I are responsible for you having this birthday.
I think Mother expressed all of our feelings very well. We are to be congratulated for having been able to know and love him. We're proud to be part of his family.
I'd also like to read part of a letter that Bob wrote to our parents in 1932 while he was at Harvard Law School, taking a course from -- you've heard this name before -- Professor Felix Frankfurter, who later became a Supreme Court justice.
I had an unusual experience today. I had to make a report for Frankfurter. Yesterday I talked for almost an hour in class with him asking questions. In continuing this report today, he said I should come down to the front where I could be heard. He got off the platform and I sat in his chair and lectured, with very few interruptions. I never heard of this being done before. There were about 200 fellows in the class and I got considerable applause when I finished. Afterwards Professor Frankfurter thanked me, saying that none of the writers on this subject had brought up this material before.
Now, I want to explain something, Allan. In Bob's obituary, it talks about an incident -- which, incidentally, I heard -- where he was trying a case before the Supreme Court and it was adjourned, and he went home and Terry had a baby, and it happened to be you. He came in the next morning and said to the Justices -- and I was there -- "I hope you will excuse me if I appear a little tired this morning, but since I talked to you yesterday there has been a birth in our family and I have been up all night."
Then Chief Justice Stone said to him, "Mr. Stern, you know it's your job to keep US awake, not our job to keep YOU awake" (laughter).
Now, the ending to that story is that Justice Frankfurter sent flowers to the hospital. The card on those flowers said, "Mazel tov -- if you know what that means!" (laughter).
Allan, did you know about that? (Allan did not!)
You know, our son, he always does things which I could KILL him for. The story HE told, I was going to tell. But this was a little bit different from what you said, Bob. We were driving down the Hutchison River Parkway from a date and I was driving. Bob DID say, "Step on it."
And I told him, "We may be pulled over."
Bob said "I'll take all the responsibility."
And we WERE pulled over. Bob said to the cop, "I'm sorry, sir, we were going too fast, but by the way, I work for the Department of Justice in Washington, and I am a lawyer in Washington."
The cop said to him, "I've just been waiting for one of you smart-aleck lawyers." But….he didn't give us a ticket!
That was one of the most amazing things. Bob told me later, "You know, I drive up to the courts, and I park right in the 'No Parking' zone, and, you know, I don't worry about getting a ticket." And, you know, that is from one of these people that I thought was very straight-laced, and I thought he was so proper, and I found out he really wasn't! (laughter).
Now most of us have seen the twinkle in Bob's eye and listened to his sense of humor, his very wry sense of humor. But the last time Betty and I saw Bob was about a year ago when he visited us in Diamond Bar, California. You remember this, Helen? You and Bob were in the back room, which was a small room, not the kind of room Bob's used to. Betty and I got up early the next morning and went up to have breakfast. Then Betty went back to our room and she sees this white-haired guy in our bed … and it looked like me! (laughter).
Then she realized I was in the front, having breakfast, so she knew who it was. Bob looked up and he said, "Who are you?" (laughter). Betty told him who she was. She said, "I'm Betty, I live here."
He said, "Oh!" and he turned over and went to sleep! (laughter)
Then we went to have lunch with my son Bob and he really was very alert and he did ask some very interesting questions.
Now, I'm going to end this by repeating that I think we should be congratulated for having this opportunity of knowing and loving Bob, who gave us all HIS love and his affection…and I thank him for that. (applause)
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