Memories of Bob Stern
Robert M. Stern
Robert M. Stern is the son of Bob's brother Albert; he is Bob's nephew
My name is Robert Mason Stern.
My parents, Al and Betty Stern, named me after two uncles. One was a famous lawyer, Bob; the other was a famous French horn player with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Mason Jones. In legal circles and in musical circles, both uncles are legends. Whenever I mention their names, people look at me with some awe and in some cases, disbelief. (laughter)
One uncle advised me to become a lawyer; it is a great profession, he said.
The other uncle advised me not to become a professional horn player (laughter), there is too much competition and the pay is not great unless you make it to the top.
I took the advice of both uncles. I went to law school, not to become a lawyer but to work in government and politics. I continued to play the French horn, but not professionally.
Both uncles seemed to appreciate my choice of careers or avocations.
My first memory of Bob was a story told by my father of the time he and Bob were driving to DC. Bob kept telling my father to drive faster, that he would take responsibility if there were any consequences. Sure enough, they were pulled over. Bob managed to trade places so that he was in the driverís seat.
When Bob showed the officer his Justice Department ID and said how important it was to get to DC, the officer replied: "I have been waiting for one of you guys from DC to use that excuse." I saw Bob for the last time last year at my office when I went to lunch with him, his wife Helen and my parents. Bob expressed interested in what I was doing and asked probing questions about my work.
Bob was particularly proud of my fatherís career change late in life. My father went back to school to become a para-legal and worked at the Pomona Valley Legal Aid office several days a week. When he told Bob that he averaged 400 clients a year, Bob replied: "In your few years at the legal aid office, you have had more clients than I have had in my entire 60-year legal career!"
I saw Bob for the last time last year at my office. I had lunch with him, with his wife Helen, and with my parents. He expressed great interest in what I was doing, and asked probing questions about my work.
Bob was a small man in stature but a giant in the law and a giant force in our family. He was the oldest of the three Stern siblings and he was the unifying force that brought the family and particularly the cousins together.
Two events, prior to today, reunited the whole family: his 50th wedding anniversary and his 90th birthday.
When I am playing the French horn at a concert, if the orchestra is doing well, I feel that the composer is actually hearing us perform. I hope today that I am doing well enough that Bob is hearing us.
Good listening, Bob, good listening.
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