Bob Morgenthau died on July 21, 2019, ten days before what would have been his one-hundredth birthday. From an almost also-ran for a position as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, I joined the office when I was 24 years old.

Two summers before I was sworn in, I was a student assistant for Stephen E. Kaufman between my second and third years at Yale Law School. My law school experience up to that time was unhappy and I was shaken.

That summer, because of Steve’s mentorship and my experience in the real world, for the first time I felt confident that I could be a successful lawyer. It was that summer and Steve’s support that led to my admission to the office.

There is an arc to my relationship with Bob Morgenthau. At first I was a nobody, imbued with what one of my Yale teachers called the “curse of charm,” with the youthful appearance of the Bronx Science senior I once was.

I took a leave of absence from the office to volunteer in Bob’s first gubernatorial campaign against Nelson A. Rockefeller. Among his less pearly pearls of wisdom in that race was, “Rockefeller is standing on his record. That’s so no one can see it.” NP and I served a phony subpoena on Rockefeller charging him with “arrogant refusal to debate Bob Morgenthau”  and it made a good picture.  Bob began to notice.

When Bob ran for District Attorney I volunteered to raise money and set up campaign committees to collect funds that were administered by my secretary, a process on which EA has noted that the statute of limitations has run. Pierre Leval, the campaign manager, assigned me to raise money from his allegedly rich relatives, most of them Lehmans. On reflection, I can say with certainty that their generosity did not comport with their pedigree.

And then we became friends. One of the reasons this worked is because of my habit (sometimes annoying) of compulsively keeping up with people I knew and befriended from childhood to date, and Morgenthau was one of them. I would call him and simply say, “how are you doing” and “let’s get together.” He was responsive.

In recent years, often over lunch at The Century, he opened up on two subjects, his military career and aspects of Judaism that came to the surface as he chaired the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

His military career, correctly characterized as heroic, caused him to suffer for many decades after his active service. Among his naval superiors, he experienced racism and cowardice, but he always fought back. Once I asked him how his skipper could treat him and the African-American  crew so badly when his father was both FDR’s friend and Secretary of the Treasury. He replied, “If that had not been the case, it would have been worse.”

The Times obituary written by the celebrated Robert D. McFadden left a lot out.

It failed to mention his decades-long leadership of Police Athletic League. Its vital task of fostering a positive relationship between kids in New York and the police was something that he believed merited support, a support that he gave unstintingly. And it failed to mention the Museum of Jewish Heritage to which he was dedicated.

Finally, it failed to mention both the deep influence that Bob had on the thousands of lives of the lawyers he appointed and their families and the profound effect on the law he and they had and have to the end that America must continue to strive for justice for all.

I am better for having known Bob. I know that I will never again meet another like him.