Remarks from Christopher L. (Kit) Kaufman
Kit is a family friend, who grew up with Allan; his father attended Harvard Law School with Bob; Kit also attended Harvard Law School, and that was the genesis of much of the following.
It's very good for me to be back on the North Shore. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area but grew up here and have never stopped being a midwesterner in temperament.
I met Robert Stern first in the mid-1950s when his family came for a visit to Chicago from Washington, D.C. Since I was still quite young and non-family visitors were relatively rare, I asked who these people were. My father, Charles Kaufman, explained that Bob had been a year ahead of him in law school and was one of the smartest people Dad had ever met. It turned out that Dad was relatively self-effacing about his own intellect and it was only years later that I learned from my mother that Dad had enjoyed the third highest grades in the history of that law school, behind Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter. Accordingly, I didn't know what high praise Dad was delivering about Bob Stern. I would only learn that later first hand via my own career choice.
The other thing that the Sterns' visit brought was an opportunity to meet Allan. Allan has remained a very close personal friend since Skokie Junior High School in Winnetka and it is in honor of both Allan and Bob that I am here today from the Bay area.
Because Allan was a close friend, I saw Bob periodically throughout high school and during the summers of college.
The Sterns (or some of them) only have one visible fault to me, and that is that they all tend to go to Williams. That's a mistake that I can't understand, but we overcome somehow (I'll let you figure out where I went to school).
Bob was always extremely cordial to me. But it was when I went off to law school at his alma mater that his interest in me personally soared.
I remember distinctly the summer after my first year of law school when I stopped by to pick up Allan to go to a movie. The year was 1968; we were in the midst of the Vietnam conflict. I managed to take three physical exams for military service in the four weeks before law school exams. I will safely say that the last thing that I was interested in on that visit was to talk about the law, law school, Cambridge Massachusetts, or anything in that vicinity.
However, when I went to pick up Allan, I couldn't make it past the living room. Bob was encamped, in a chair, reading. I said, "Can you get Allan to come down? We're going to a movie."
Thirty-five minutes later Bob had cross-examined me (laughter) -- which of his friends were my professors, which grades I had gotten from those friends, various cases -- some of which I couldn't remember although it had only been a few weeks before -- and what I thought of those cases.
You could see that he loved his profession and was lucky enough to have chosen a profession that he loved. I think that that's a fabulous gift to someone, to have a life full of a job that you enjoy, as much as Bob clearly did.
Yes, I can say that that 35 minutes, now that I was in law school, proved to me what my father had told me many years earlier, that Robert Stern was very, very smart.
This routine of escaping the living room continued throughout the rest of the time that I knew Bob Stern (laughter). I often would ask Allan to drive if we were going somewhere, because the penalty otherwise was the thorough cross-examination. And I can tell you that none of the professors was any tougher than Bob Stern.
Allan and I complained constantly about the obstacles that Bob presented to our getting out of that living room. Why couldn't Bob Stern let us go out and just have some fun.
However, from this vantage point in the year 2000 I can honestly say that I miss those very obstacles now.
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