Celebrating the life of Robert B. Harper
Celebrating the life of Robert B. Harper
University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Video of the celebration of Robert Harper’s life with speakers William Carter, Fred Hill, Mark Nordernberg, Max Miller, Amy Wildermuth, and family held in the courtroom at the University of Pittsburgh..more »
Video of the celebration of Robert Harper’s life with speakers William Carter, Fred Hill, Mark Nordernberg, Max Miller, Amy Wildermuth, and family held in the courtroom at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law School.
William Carter, Jr., Jules Lobel, Fred Hill, Mark Nordenberg, Max Miller (JD' 93), Monica Zeaman (niece), Amy Wildermuth
Morning everyone. it's a pleasure to be here with you, I want to thank you all for coming to be part of this celebration of life, I want to thank the family for inviting me to say just a few words.
Morning everyone. it's a pleasure to be here with you, I want to thank you all for coming to be part of this celebration of life, I want to thank the family for inviting me to say just a few words.
But I also want to thank the family for choosing to host this celebration of life here with us it's a testament of how much pip law meant. In the life of Professor Harper and how much he meant to us, so I really want to thank you all for doing that, with us and for us. I also want to offer my most sincere condolences to the family, for your loss, I know that these are very hard times, but, as you said, right now, we are here to celebrate, while also recognizing the passing of someone. Who was truly an influential figure who will be greatly missed here at the law school, as well as for the family. In addition of welcoming you all, I was asked to just say a few brief words and reflections and I will indeed be brief. In order to leave time for folks who knew Professor Harper better, but first by way of just introduction to those of you who may not know I am Professor chip Carter a faculty Member here. at the University of Pittsburgh school of law and I had the great pleasure and privilege of serving his team, and indeed the first African American dean of the law school from to . In that role, I got to know Bob I never had the pleasure, like some of my colleagues of working with him directly. But I got to know him through some events and some functions, where we would see one another, I also got to know him quite a bit through his former students and I'll say something about that. In a moment, but in all of my interactions with Bob it was a true joy and pleasure to be with him, you know how some people are just people who make you want to be a better person just by being around them. The joy and the intellectual curiosity and the infectious smile and the deep commitment to our students into the rule of law. is something that quite frankly I not only admired in Bob but also wanted to emulate I wanted to be able to be the kind of person that kind of teacher the kind of lawyer. Who Professor Harper was, and so, when I heard he had passed, the first thing I pictured, like many of you was just that big infectious smile and that born, he would bring whenever I would see him at events. He would just be so happy to be there and to be engaged in to be among a community of scholars.and lawyers and students and that presence is something that will be sorely missed, even for those of us who didn't have the opportunity to have another family member or Professor or as a colleague. The other reflection, I wanted to offer about both Professor Harper himself, but also. folks of his generation is that quite frankly i'm often in all of what they did to open doors and break down barriers. To make it possible for people like me to enter law school, let alone legal activity, were it not for their willingness to always be the first and the only and to demonstrate consistent. excellence and to make it look easy and to make black excellence seem not just possible but normative not just the exception, but the rule. They paved the path that made it possible decades later for me to enter law school without having to face those same barriers and indeed to enter academia. And I think it's fair to say that may in terms of becoming the first African American Dean at Pitt law surely my path was made easier. By Bob's trailblazing and that of others of his generation who have shown that black leadership, both in academia and the legal profession was something to be valued and welcome and to be honored rather than something to be tolerated and grudgingly, just when we are required. The last reflection that I will mention is this so I've done many things throughout the course of my career. But at my core I think of myself as a teacher first last and always and often you can judge a teacher by their impact on their students. And so I've had the great privilege and pleasure over the years of speaking with many of Professor Harper's former students who of course admired his intellect is sharp with his work ethic, and the role model that he provided. But that's typical for faculty at a school of the caliber of law, what was unusual when I would talk to his former students.
Was the deep and sincere long that they held for him, I cannot tell you how many of his former students, said to me words to the effect of. I would not be here, I would not have made it through law school, were it not for Professor Harper. Who took an individual interest in each student who believe that every student, regardless of their background could maximize. Their work in their opportunity to contribute to society and in their telling he did it in a way that was not soft or easy I don't think he was known for his lack of rigor. He did it in a way that reflected the high expectations that he had for his students and probably also for his nieces nephews using other relatives. He is told to be rather direct when those expectations were not met, but I'm also told by his former students that they appreciated that because it showed that he believed enough to care. That they could achieve what he thought was possible, and so, in closing I'll just say this, I again I'm so sorry for the families loss. And it's a loss for all of us, I hope you all know that, not just in the abstract that his legacy lives on here in Pitt law which it certainly does. But in a very personal way for those who were touched by him, I truly believe. That when people cross over that they leave a part of themselves with us that actively lives on in the world and helps us to do our work. And so, as I move forward, I will try to carry the small piece of Professor Harper that I had the privilege to experience with me. to drive me toward further excellence in my role as a teacher and as a member of our legal profession. And I hope that you all, will continue to remain engaged and involved with us here in law, anything that you need anything that we can do. We are happy to so I feel that in some sense, we will still happen with us, and I hope that I will in some sense see him again in some way when it's my turn to cross over I really do believe in the transcendent power of black excellence, I don't think it goes away. And so I think that it may be different, depending on your belief system and I don't know exactly what I believe, but I know that he is not completely lost to us, and hopefully that gives us some confidence well. Thank you all for your time, and thank you again for being here and for sharing Professor Harper with us thanks. Good morning. Let us pray. Lord We thank you for giving us the life of uncle Robert today, we do not more but celebrate all the achieved and the legacy he leaves behind. We will remain ever grateful for being blessed with his presence and the light shined into so many lives in arts, we will treasure him and all that he stood for cherishing the memories, we have that shall never fade amen.
Morning welcome. I'm Professor Jules Lobel and when I came here one of the most welcoming colleagues that I had came in Bob Harper was a professor and he welcomed me with open arms, and we became good friends and I saw are we missing. We would regularly go to basketball games and he would regularly beat me at squash. But I kept coming back for more punishment, both with the pit basketball games and sports squash. He was incredibly learned and he would quote Shakespeare in the Greek classics when giving advice and making points in discussion. We've also very generous and he felt the great need to give back and serve this Community, for example, serving on the board of neighborhood legal services for over years and I remember a story about him, which is when we would have faculty lunches. have to the lunches were not even in Bob would always gather up the lunches and bring them to the food pantry of food bank. Because he felt it was a waste for this food or a waste and there were people who really needed eventually the university put a stop to it because there were some dietary you know some sanity health reasons, but that was Bob. It was also very funny and had a great and often sarcastic with. For example, once I was telling him a story that, unfortunately, which was my one when was going on too long. And so I recognize that and intending to summarize the story, the rest of the story, I said to him to make a long story short. And immediately shot back to wait.
It actually had a marginal effect, ensuring range of my long winded storytelling. I am a passionate fan. On wall Professor kind of catch the faithful. And to me Bob Harper was the Jackie Robinson pit law school. He was the first African American law professor at the school, the first African American to get tenure, and the first African American professor, to become a full Professor. He faced numerous numerous obstacles in achieving those goals. For example, he was told by his high school guidance counselor that he shouldn't go to college, he should go to trade school to become a printer. But fortunately ignore that advice. But even if it was cool he faced numerous obstacles, he often told me that many of the Faculty never expected that he would get . And that, after he and the first woman faculty members were hired. The tenured faculty decided that they should change the standards for tenure, making it more difficult, requiring more review articles. Bob had never written the word view article had no experience with one view article. he's putting time into it. and He got very little help set to say from the other faculty members to one exception, one major exception. He persevered as he always did. And he persevered with grit determination and human. And he wrote several well regarded articles and he got tenure he became an excellent scour writing a major treatise on Pennsylvania evidence for.once told a former colleague of ours, Professor worldwide that his goal was in quotes to make doors where they were once walls. And he did that, after becoming a professor, he viewed one of his key tasks as mentoring African American students and African American professors. And chip quarter former dean can attest by his his discussions with former students, as to how well Bob did that. He achieved that goal spectacularly and to the people that he mentored will follow me today and speaking about Bob it just want to say. I totally agree with chip that a piece of Bob is with us with me and I tried to, to the extent they can replicated zoomer is good nature and probably most importantly is perseverance in the face about.
Good morning, everybody. I am so honored to be here today to give remarks about my dear friend and mentor Robert Berkeley Harper yes and our relationship which spanned over years. He had a wonderful life as many of you know, and I can kind of tell you how our relationship evolved and it may touch a chord with many of you, because you touched him in many ways, and so. I start with the time where I first met him, which would have been when I came to Pitt law school and I call this the time have no answers, because at that time, he was Dean harbor. He was a dean of students and he also was Professor Harper, of course, but we called him Dean Harper and Professor Harper and if we studied with him in class at that time was the time we could not get an answer out. Right, and of course that's what law professors supposed to do, supposed to make us think. make us come up with our own answers, and so I remember going into his office and asking some questions about an exam that he had given and every question I asked he followed it with a question. Right how frustrating sure a law student you want to get some answers you want to know how the law is working, but that was not the goal of law school that was not what we were being trained to do. And so, even though was frustrating, I found that I had to change my way of thinking in order to be able to succeed at law school. And so during this time and and I will say during this time was when I started learning how to think like a lawyer, you know that means right.
And to this day, my friends like they hate me for it because we're having regular they're not lawyers right we're regular conversations and sandy is always coming back with some alternative things they said why can't you just answer what we're asking you so but anyway. So he excelled certainly at teaching young minds, and that is what he did, and he acclimated us to the law, and we can all attest to that if we had an in class. And being the professional person that he was and the private person he kept his distance in some ways, especially with with us as students. So, for example, even though we wanted to I'll speak for myself wanted to get to know him a little better. He had the wall up right he is the Professor I'm the student, and so we had to maintain that distance during this time, and I understand that. And so it was it was troubling to me, but I eventually figured out that event that I would come to know him on a different level at some point. But not while I was a student, and so one of the things that happened and would some advice that he gave me, and this was when I was in my third year of law school. And I had an opportunity that came to me to work at the US attorney's office as an intern coming out of law school, but to do so during my third year and anybody who knew me then those I had no interest in criminal law, none, not a bit, and I certainly did not want to be a prosecutor. and rob called me in one day and I was talking to him about this offer coming from Bob Sandridge many of you know Bob's enrich in this room and and and. rob said to me sanding you've got to consider this and I said I don't want to be a prosecutor and he said, but we need good people on both sides. In the criminal justice that stayed with me, we need good people on both sides, and so I realized, it was very impactful to be a black woman to be asked to be in this position. And I almost close the door, but I didn't and that's when our relationship started to change because he saw more in me he saw more talent in me then I perhaps saw in myself. So, from that point after I graduated now I'm a I'm a lawyer and working at the. At the US attorney's office, and at that time I got an opportunity and Mark Nordenberg came into play as well as Professor Harper. When I was offered the chance to go to Washington DC for the Iran contra investigation and I had already received an offer to teach it deems to teach here at Pitt to come back to Pitt and be a professor. And so I went to both of them and they said look you've got to go to Washington you've got to go to Washington and the law school will be here for you, when you come back and so I did. And so that was, of course, very, very much something that I again didn't see myself doing, but it was able to do now, I returned to pit and I'm a colleague of rocks. Now from student to colleague and came back join the Faculty here at my Alma mater and, of course, as some of you my former colleagues here know, I came in having been a graduate and now I have a colleague, that was a different relationship can't we say that. And so I was put to the test with teaching and scholarship and all the things that the young, Professor goes through, and rob was right there by my side, helping me to navigate. The sometimes very difficult challenges that I was faced with in this field, so he met he gave me the opportunity to create myself. He never tried to create me in his image, but he gave me the opportunity to create myself and so it's true mentors don't always have the answer. But they sure help you to find the answers they sure help you to find your way, and that is what happened at that time, many of us were lucky to have him, both as a teacher and a colleague, and I was even luckier to have him as a mentor. So, as my friends and our friends here gathered, we can see that this man had a deep impact on so many lives. Now, at this point my relationship with him grew even deeper because you went from being a professor. to being a friend colleague, and now we are relationship state outside the law school and they became friends with my family and my other friends right.
We he held my son bj when my when bj was three weeks old, I have a picture of him, Robert Harper holding him. He knew my mother, he came to Philadelphia after thanksgiving here, he would he visited with friends there when my mother was here, he was couldn't wait for her after thanksgiving Turkey noodle soup. He came to the House and we have that, and so, even after I moved South our relationship continued to grow. On Sunday mornings after the CBS Sunday morning show some of you know that.we'd always chat What were they talking about on the show what was the what was the subject and we'd Have a nice discussion about what was featured and sometimes they have to minutes also. And so, our relationship continued travel his level of travel my level trap where have you been Where are you going. And books Oh, my goodness, if he read a book he told me I got the book when I read a book, we were always exchanging books I'm proud to say, I think I. Maybe Rana you had something to do with this to helped him to get into audio books and learn to navigate how audiobooks worked. And I said they're easier on the eyes and you can listen to them when you're doing all kinds of things, and so there are always something provocative to talk about to learn about and so. We continued our relationship, even though I left the Pittsburgh area, so he was my source of inspiration and motivation and dear friend, Robert I will miss you. Whether you were Dean Harper Professor Harper Mr Harper or just Harper with my friends call everybody called him harbor. Robert or rob as he told me to call him, he said call me rob I called him rob we will miss you I will laugh whenever I recall your wit, I promise to pick up a book just because. My interest in art will continue to grow because. I will explore new places and ask the right questions in life. You made me think about quotes and remember that answering machine if he called his house. It wasn't hello, this is the Harper resident, oh no, no, there was always some quote from the Bible or Shakespeare or some you know Greek mythology something that was inspiration. Because why, why would you just say hello it's the Harper that's boring right that's boring, and there are always ways that you helped me grow up to figure things out you listen to me when I was upset. and constantly cheered me up when I was down. I refused to worry about things that are beyond my control because I recall one of your famous pieces of advice this too shall pass.
Good morning. it's nice to take this off. So, my name is Fred Hill and. I am honored. honored to speak at this tribute to my friend Bob now Cindy or sandy said that people call them rob or Robert and I always call them Bob and I've got two stories to tell you about Bob. The first one is that he was a very competitive person. Now some of you may know that about them, some of you may not but here's a quick story he loved playing racquetball eventually he moved to squash but he introduced me to the game of racquetball. And it's a very fast moving game, you really have to be on your toes we played for years and I never beat them. One day. When he was recovering from some sort of sprained ankle I managed to beat him just barely just barely and I was exhausted, you know. If I beat him I kind of looked at him, and you know he kind of looked at me and he you know, he would say, well, Mr. Hill very, very good, very good I was so excited I went home, I told my wife about it a. couple of weeks later, we played again. He told me. I mean annihilated me and, as we were leaving the Court he turned and he looked at me and he said, Mr hill. Go tell your wife about that. He was a very competitive person. The other thing about our B, which, which I think is. really important at least it's been important in my life is, I had a a really bad crisis in my life at one point.
And you know Bob was he was not only my my friend, he had been my teacher, he was certainly a mentor someone I would turn to and in good times to celebrate in bad times to seek advice and this one particular time, I was having some real emotional struggles with where I was in life. And I explained everything to him I you know, and I probably as Professor Bell said I probably spoke a little too long, because when I was finished he put his hand on my shoulder very, very affectionately and he said, you know Fred. in life, sometimes we get lemons. And when we do we have a choice. We can make lemonade. And that was the Bob Harper I know taking every situation, no matter how dark it may seem, no matter how bad it was no matter how ill timed in making the best of it. So I just want to close with with a little scripture, this is actually for Libyans four. It talks about god's peace.And it says finally brothers and sisters whatever is true, whatever is noble whatever is right, whatever is pure whatever is lovely whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things, whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seeing me put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you. And when I think about Bob that's probably how I remember him most the He was a man at peace with who he was at peace with what he's accomplished in life. at peace with what he felt for his family, the love and the joy he shared with them at peace with his career at peace with life and that's how I will remember him most of all, as a man who is at peace, thank you.
Good morning. I will be reading from Ecclesiastes. Chapter three verses one through four for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted a time to kill a time to heal a time to break down and a time to build up a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and as today, the time today. May God bless him to the reading of his word. Good morning, already from first as a load Ian's Chapter four verses .And now they're brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not greed, like those who have no hope. presents, we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life, again, we also believe that when Jesus returns God will bring back with him the believers who have died.For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout with the voice of an Archangel and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died, will raise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth. will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So please, encourage each other with these words. At this moment we ask that you take a few moments for a silent reading of the obituary which you can find. On the second page with the progress, thank you.
Good morning, everyone. My name is mark norenberg Bob Harper was one of the first people I met when I came to the University of Pittsburgh, which means that we were friends for nearly years. Like all of you, I miss him and welcome this chance to be with you to celebrate his life. Ralph Waldo Emerson described what might be the ideal way for each of us to greet the dawn of every new day. I woke up this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new he said today, as we gather to reflect on the life of a great friend those words are especially fitting.
When Bob's brother Henry invited me to speak today I quickly agreed saying that it would be a privilege, because I did love and admire Bob. I also felt a little bit guilty, though, because I knew there were so many others who had similar feelings for Bob who would not have the same opportunity. For somebody some of them, in fact, speaking today would have been impossible because they left this life before Bob did. So I went back and tried to read what others have said about Bob some years ago and some more recently, and what I found was a never ending stream of testimonials. One important source of earlier reflections were the tributes published in the pit law review at the time of Bob's retirement, some of those tribute writers have already spoken today, but the voices of others have not been heard. Wealth white, to whom Jules referred, and who was extremely close to Bob had written one of those tributes. In its very first paragraph, he traced their relationship from the year that he was the first year law professor and Bob was a first year law student through all over the years that they served as colleagues on the Faculty. At close with the statement that Bob had become one of his very closest friends. Carl Cooper the second African American to serve on the Faculty of the pit law school, said that he and Bob became friends almost instantaneously. In fact, he said that for a number of years, not only some students, but some faculty colleagues confuse the two of them and called car Bob he never corrected them, or perhaps believing that being called Bob Harper was a badge of honor. to sell the Dean, who brought Bob back to the law school as the assistant Dean for students and who then facilitated his transfer to the Faculty praised his contributions in those roles and then added, but it is a friend, that I will miss most in Bob's departure. always a lot of fun in conversations, he would do anything for anybody i'm proud to count Bob among my close friends. The fact that Bob was fun and had an unmistakable magnetism that made people gravitate toward him or was a distinctive professional asset. Dean sale also wrote about traveling to other campuses with Bob in his only role as assistant Dean, to meet with pre law groups. Anyone who knew it and Bob will not be surprised that he went on to say that he would find himself in a far corner of the room, with the pre law advisor while Bob entertain the throngs of potential students who were surrounding him. The sense of connecting and connecting on many levels was central to Bob Harper the teacher. In Bob's university times obituary Arthur hellman said that for Bob the class meetings were just the start of what he felt were his responsibilities as a teacher and Larry froelich described him as a very bright big hearted person who not only cared about the law but cared about people. Just yesterday Dave faucet the graduate of the law school contacted me on something entirely different, but when I told him that today was Bob Harper's memorial service he sent me his own tribute to Bob. Bob Harper was one of my professors a squash partner and a super great guy we all respected him knew he was a force and to me it was his humor and ready laugh that was so welcome needed and encouraging his way of saying you can do this and doing this is fun. More than a century ago, Henry Adams wrote a teacher effects eternity. He never knows where his influence stops, but we know that's true in the case of Bob. Simply from listening to the distinguished former students who are here today and thinking about what they made of their lives, with his help. And these of course are just Bob's traditional students in the later stages of his career he developed a specialty in education law. becoming a teacher of teachers and opening up a whole new Community of learners for the law school. in a different way, Bob also always was teaching his friends and colleagues, sometimes by what he said, but more often by the power of his own example. There was even another group of internal learners or to whom well quite clearly one of the schools most accomplished scholars referred in his tribute saying.
Bob is an excellent scholar, but what always has impressed me more than his scholarship is the people, especially non lawyers actually enjoy reading his writing. As one example, I remember how jealous I was when I heard that the Secretaries in the document technology Center were talking about how they were working on one of Bob's education law articles or essays and how the issues he was discussing were really interesting. Wealth went on to say he had never heard comments like that about any other faculty members scholarship including his own. As the record so clearly reflect and, as we have been reminded, Bob was a pioneer in virtually everything he did. On the first African American to serve as counsel to the Pittsburgh bureau of police, the first African American to serve as a theme at this law school. The first African American to serve on the Faculty of this law school and is joy jewels who said they first faculty Member who was African American to be years in the first years African American faculty Member to be promoted to the rank before Professor. As Carl Cooper reminded us in his law review Article and as chip Carter suggested. Being first or being the only is a lonely road to travel. and offers many opportunities to give up or Gideon thankfully Professor Harper stayed in long enough to assure all of us a brighter legal future a better legal community and a memorable living legend to celebrate. As jewels also noted. Wealth white reported that Bob had said to him that, when he became a lawyer his goal was to make doors were there once were walls during his more than years at the University of Pittsburgh school of law Welsh included he has been remarkably successful in achieving that goal. Emerson not only modeled an ideal beginning for a day he offered a standard for assessing a life. To leave the world a little better, to know that even one life has breathed easier because you live, that is to have succeeded. Bob Harper of course race past that standard and measured by it was a superhuman success, he was principal empathetic talented and selfless he had a wonderful way with people because he believed in and cared about them. He found joy in the giving of himself to others and through that process of giving he enhanced countless lives, one of those lives was mine, I know how lucky I was that Bob became a part of it, and I know that countless others feel the same way, Bob Harper was a blessing to us all.
morning. Max Miller my graduate of the law school here students and Professor Harper. And when the email first came out, and this was amongst. A group of several my classmates from and the surroundings classes, there were sort of this barrage of email, similar to what Chancellor norm, or just mentioned that you get all this unsolicited. beautiful language coming from people and so when Derek reached out and asked me to be here, I thought that I would. sort of try to capture some of those things that i've been seeing and hearing from classmates over the last. Several weeks as they responded to Professor Harper's last and they start to group in these themes and one of these things was around who he was as a person. And this thing continues to come up as all the speakers, you know that have been up here have talked about. About I'm just going to relay some of these words because I promised classmates that I would try to share as many as I could. With the family, and so one of these was just they would talk about just how much he was appreciated and loved by students and this term love it's come up a couple times, but you know as a professor now myself it's pretty hard to get a student to love. Right, and so it really is just a testament that he was some of the other comments were around this notion of kindness. being kind right and he was genuine right and this this term genuine came up many, many, many times right, you can tell when someone's not being genuine.
Right, but when they are genuine for a student it really does shape their experience everyone said there were so many great memories of one one comment that stuck out for me from a classmate here was that. One student never had a class with Professor Harper never. And yet he engaged with him and chatted with him at length outside of class. Right and found that he over the years that he was always so warm and friendly, and so, not only was the impact in the students that he was actually teaching, but also the students that he encountered outside of the classroom, which is another testament to him. Of course, there was a whole grouping of comments around how funny he was, and this has come up a lot of times here, but what what hasn't come up yet is his cadence. The way he would deliver his humor right that was just a part of a really the impact of it was timing. But also the cadence and one quote and forgive me for our under age people here now but it was a card that came up many times it's fine it's clean don't worry it's good but it's come up in criminal law class and he wants something like this alcohol never touches my lips. I use the straw. Especially in criminal law that that came up that were memorable. The other group of comments really was around how meaningful his presence was, and this was in the context of many of the African American students that realized, he was the first, but also the support that he was giving them and you heard these words are alike feeling empowered. Right feeling like you're inspired and should be here right Those were some of the words that came from the African American students and that he was just an inspiration. So now I moved and so that will try to encapsulate really some of what I heard from classmates let me talk to you about sort of my own interactive with him, I have two big things to thank Professor Harper for. One is that. He pushed me towards corporate law because of my poor performance and evidence and. illustrious corporate legal career. So, but it also is he. I was telling Raina earlier that I feel like i'm part of the adopted kettering street family and so. For those of you that don't know i'd be i'd you know the Raven family was on that street and the youngest raiford is my best friend from college and business partner. And so, one of the things that sort of thing about sort of philosophically as I listened to a lot of these comments from students was just. About sort of the path that we all take you know as humans and certainly as students, you know you're in college and you're sort of discovering yourself and becoming an adult, but when you're in law school, a lot of us came straight from. undergrad straight to law school many people work but whichever path you took it was sort of this. moment of evolution right when you get into law school and because you have people like Professor Harper and many other professors that intersect with you. In that time of development, they really do leave a mark and so not only was I going through that sort of transitional I came to Pittsburgh, but, to my surprise, I go to visit the reference and two doors down. Right right there on Catherine, and so I knew him, both as a part of that community. but also as a professor and so when you are a student who isn't from Pittsburgh I grew up in Philadelphia you come to a new town. And you get embraced by that's why I call it the chemistry family, because there were a lot of families there that I interacted with but Professor Harper was a part of that. And so forever forever grateful for that and forever grateful dislike all of our colleagues for visibility to give you that sense of belonging and we're much so much better off for having know them, thank you.
morning, so good morning. I am Monica freeman and. Henry is my father and Robert Berkeley Harper was my uncle. My uncle was one of the most thoughtful people i've ever known. I always receive a Christmas card a birthday Easter back to school or heck even just because.
They not only were saying yearly but always before the holidays. And this age of emails and video calls who even send cards and letters in the mail anymore Robert Berkeley Harper. He was known for his nightly writing ritual, let me share one of his letters he sent me shortly before his passing. More than anything else, this pandemic, with its isolation, has made me feel unappreciated look appreciation is not a big thing that happens in life. you're lucky if you get a thank you for anything that's just how life goes it's a fleeting feeling for those who feel it, at best, and then you move on, if you're living your life hungering for other people to make you feel worthy and loved well you can't make them do it. i'm starting to use the analogy and think of myself like a bank account and invest my time and energy wisely. If an investment yield no return or worse disengage don't let it run empty, you have to find value in yourself to do that and it shows you're taking the correct steps to self esteem. One of my favorite songs is that of Donald Lawrence and also by beverly Crawford encourage yourself. But there are those moments in life when we could all use a little encouragement, a kind word a gentle wish and a whole heart felt prayer, especially in today's pandemic, we can all use something that inspires us to believe in ourselves or help others through these times. discouragement regret depression fear or all feeds they rob you with everything you have and leave you feeling victimized when you're feeling like a helpless victim of your circumstance, you are robbed of the power to do anything about it. When you're incorrect when you encourage yourself, you are taking your power back you are taking a stand that says, no matter what you will survive this. With the lord's help you will overcome anything life throws at you uncle rob. Words cannot express the appreciation I have for having him in my life. He was a great man you've heard his many accomplishments but more than that. He was an amazing friend. I will miss him dearly. And more in his passing. My solace comes from knowing that when he arrived in heaven, this is what he heard Matthew his Lord said to him well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things I will make you ruler over many things. enter into the joy of your Lord amen. My wife insisted that I stick to the script because my plan was to just come up and say some things. But before I get into the actual prepared statements I have to reach out right now and thank Max for the words that he said, especially as it related to a classmate of his who had never even taken the class, because one of the things I remember. I attended the cat school across the street and my friend Greg and I assure you there's a woman involved somewhere that Greg was coming over to try to talk to. But we come over to the law school and I encounter Max who I had met years before at penn because his best friend and business partner was the best man at my wedding Kevin raiford who couldn't be here. So Max says oh there cause good see they're great i'd like to introduce you to Professor Harper. Rober Professor Harper. Yes. We have that but. I see jewels and mark and a lot of other faces that are familiar and When Germans came up he spoke about change and most people here who were with the law school at the time, knew me is just this little pudgy kid because. When my uncle join the law school, they were still over in the Cathedral of learning and this building was nothing, it was a hole in the ground because they've gotten rid of the stadium years before. So I have seen a lot of change, and I remember him moving into this building and occupying office I thought it was so cool as a kid that he needed a key to get to his floor on the elevators. that's pretty cool. not withstanding. A lot of people here have talked about whether you call them Robert or rob or Bob rb Whether you call him son brother friend second lieutenant in the army teacher Professor uncle Father now all of you know, he didn't have any kids that last one, is it real but I added that because.
The friend to money that you know was more like a father to me and therefore my views on where he stood are a little different. When I graduated from high school he gave me a card and a dictionary. dictionary I got the call I don't think I open the dictionary, but I took it. But he wasn't we didn't know that words and reading where the trip to education. And even as I, as I graduated I think one of the things that sandy Jordan said it wasn't a question of well okay Robert where do you think I should go to college, it was where did you get in. Okay, oh that narrows the list. answer a question with a question, he would tell me stories about him in the military and why he chose to serve the country. And he taught me how to shining shoes that's a fatherly thing to do, but it was in the context of Oh, you have this really cool shoeshine kid he says no it's actually a ammunition box from my time in Korea. What Okay, so I learned a few things at once he did teach me his lover bracket sports I remember learning to play tennis. I remember learning to play racquetball I refuse to learn to play squash I just I just didn't have the energy for dead ball, I mean I was still a kid it wasn't going to happen. I remember he and his brother teaching me to swim that trees Hall, which I don't believe is more than a memory, for most along with the stadium that used to be at the top of cardiac hill where he took me to pick games in today's a huge green and Dan Marino, so I have him thank for that. When I got the College, he would always send me to different papers that he wrote. Criminal law exams, for his first year students, so I kind of feel like I did get a degree in just criminal law, nothing else I had to answer the questions every year and. I don't know if I got them right, but it was close enough, especially when it got to his I don't want to say his favorite subject we're probably his most written subject about. gun laws and the problems that we have in our society, as a result of them, I am not making this political i'm stopping right there I just Everyone who knows me knows that that was a thing that he wrote about more frequently than anything else. i'm about to finish. i'll never know if he was disappointed when my decision to not go to law school and apply across the street at cats, but as he sits in heaven and looks down i'm sure this past Tuesday, it was a huge smile on his face because his great nephew my son brandon. got his acceptance letter to be part of the University of Pittsburgh class of . I have to take a second to talk about his teaching me about humility. Mark norenberg he spoke earlier when he was Chancellor and university had a significant anniversary they had these coins that they gave out to people. And my uncle received one and he's like yeah you know mark nominated me for this coin. I don't know why I got it as well let's just look at your contributions to the university and I ended up writing him like a four page letter, it says well. here's what people thought of you here's what you did you were the first here, you were the first there you help them grow you did this other thing. But he was never gonna say that he just looked at it as like it was cool and I don't deserve your other people more deserving so. Being able to stand here and be part of it is, is just tremendous for me and In closing, I cannot tell you guys everything that he meant to me. I can tell you that I miss him more than anyone would believe in more than my actual biological father. Is lessons on life or a part of me that I try to share with anyone I made, especially my sons and, if I can give them have the wisdom and patience and time that he gave me i'm sure it'll be all right, thank you. praise the Lord. His word, he did the reason that we're here this morning because God woke us up from the bottom and I give honor and glory to God this morning because he is the head of my life, and he is the one who gives us the strength and he gives us all that we need. This morning we're here to celebrate the life of Robert Berkeley heartburn and we've heard so many good testimonies about who he is and what he's meant to a lot of us, so we pray this morning before we start.
Father we just thank you and we praise you for another day and father, we just welcome your presence father, we thank you for the words that will be spoken and we pray that they will be words that will encourage us. and give us the strength to do some of the things that we need to do, but we just place everything in your hands, and when you give you the glory in Jesus name amen. Does not honoring celebrating and remembering the life of Robert Berkeley heartless and we first some different things that everyone different people calling whether was Professor brother. uncle friend rb the new one that I heard, I never knew that before but different names that. people's call and he was. acknowledged by different people, it was uncle Robert so me a friend once told me that when you are born you take in your first breath you breathe in a first breath. Then, at the end of your life you breathe out your last breath and the most important thing to remember is what happens in between those two friends. What takes place in between the two breaths of that time and life is not measured by the amount of breath that we take.But by the moments to take our breath away and how it influences those that we come in contact with. you've heard a lot of testimonies and i'm sure everyone else who is here this morning to get up and say a testimony of what uncle Robert meant to them. of how he changed your life and about how he made a difference is how but we can't how our lives are affected by who we come in contact with. And I read and I listened to the accomplishments of novel Robert as I read the obituary so many new things so many. First things so many things that he accomplished in his life and it's amazing how much he has done in the short life that he was here on this earth. I look at how many lives that he has touched I think of the many people who have lives that have been influenced and even shamed by just knowing him. Was it a word that he said to you or maybe something that he did was it support in some situation where he encouraged you with a letter. I know I know a lot of us ever received those letters that have encouraged us about something that we've done something that we were going to do, but he was always that encouraging to us that encouragement to us was it a challenge from him to be the best that you can be. listened to some of the students that were in his classes and how he he taught them to be better than what they thought they could be. And that was something means a lot it's it means a lot when it comes from someone that you respect that they can tell you that you can do, and that they have faith in you that you can do it. The best say i'm the best and to be the best you can be the best way to do these things is to live a life that is an example of how it should be done. And that it can be done uncle Robert did a lot of things, if you look through all of his life and the things that he did he did a lot of things and they made a lot of differences. Actions speak louder than words you know we can read a lot of things we can say a lot of things, but what we do is make is what makes a difference. and always said that he did everything that he wanted to do, and even more he traveled the world, and he made any have many accomplishments, as we have read his advice was when. Possible that everyone should at least once in their lifetime travel to a place that they've never been and he helped a lot of people to do that. Not only did he encouraged, but he helped people to do that, we have family gatherings every year and in our family gatherings he had these games that he bought. They were always some type of word game or, but it was always something that not only was it fun, but it made you think. It made you think about not only life but it made you think about different things, and not only fun, but encourage you to think after he retired. has been said he wrote an essay every evening, and he read at least one book a week I can remember ask any one time to if he had any books that I wanted to start reading because I thought it was a good idea to strengthen my mind and I asked him if he had any books that. He thought would be good for me to read about five minutes later when he was finished given me a list of books I finally chose a book out of one of those that I still have to admit, I never finished reading I became a.
The audio books, I was able to do more with the audio books I wasn't good at sticking with reading. But I believe your legacy is determined by how people remember you and we heard that the day how people remember uncle Robert. A scripture was spoken this morning that also chose for my message this morning it was Paul speaking to the Philippines in Philippines for eight nine. When he said finally brethren whatever things are noble whatever things are pure whatever things are lovely whatever things are of good report. If there is any virtue and if there's anything praiseworthy meditate on these things, the good things meditate on those things and keep those things up, first in your mind. The things that you've learned and received and heard and saw Andy do these things, and the God of peace. will be with you now, this was Paul speaking back at that time, but I believe that uncle Robert could have spoken those exact same words because his life was an example for us to follow. I believe that would be uncle Roberts message to each one of us today God places here, where we are for a purpose, he created us to be to fulfill god's plan. No one is here just to occupy, no one is here just to take up space, no one is here to just be here, but we're here for a purpose and a reason and Jeremiah . It says, I know the plans, I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not harm you plans to give you hope and the future. See God has a plan for us and his plan is for us to prosper after we replace or after we complete our responsibilities on earth God will call us own and our job is to do all that he called us to do. Everything that he placed us here on this earth, to do everything that he purposed us to do, then it will be a joy. Then it will be a joy to hear the words I have fought the good fight I have finished the race, I have kept the faith see in life we're going to have some obstacles. we're going to have some troubles we're going to have some problems we're going to be some time they're going to be some times that we stumble. they're going to be some challenges in life, but we have to keep on going on, when you run a race you get tired you get weary you get run down and in life that happens, but we keep on going on. For the reason, because you know we run a race for a trophy for a perishable price, but this race of life we run and keep the faith for it says, now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge will award to be on that day, and not only to me, but who all who have longed for his appearing. That is a promise for each and every one of us, that is sitting here today once we choose to accept Jesus Christ, as our lord and savior. and asked him to come into our lives and to change our hearts and to make a difference, we are changed forever and our destiny is determined aka rub off a robber wrote in one of his essays that I read what does the fullness of time mean. Does it mean the time when we have worked out our relationship with God and are not afraid to leave this earth. Or is it the time when we realize our purpose on this cooling sender and work to fulfill that purpose, and I believe that this how he lived his life. He lived his life to fulfill a purpose and make a difference in other lives, he lived his life to make a change of people that he came in contact with. And is it is witness by everyone who is here just board everyone who's spoken i'm sure everyone else who was sitting out there could have something to say also. And so, in john it says, let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God believe, also in me in my father's House are many mansions if it were not so I would have told you so I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there you are also the choice is yours. You know we're celebrating the life of Robert Harper this morning, but he has made his choice has already been made and his destiny has already been chosen, but we have a choice this morning on our choices to accept the Lord as our savior. Remember that the choice is yours, and as we move away from this place this morning I pray that we would remember.
What he meant to us, the difference that he made in our lives and how he's changed our lives because of who he was and who he is and that we choose to be. That type of an example for someone else that we can do that because we have him as an example and to look up to Father I just thank you for your word today I pray that you bless our hearts by that word and Lord that you would strengthen us guide and direct us in Jesus name amen. So on behalf of the person that invited states United States army of people preparing for a. Reason satisfy as a support request creation appreciation. Thank you, and now we'll have closing reflections from the current dean of the law school teenagers, thank you. Again, it is an honor for our law school to host this event for Professor Harper an extraordinary human being an extraordinary faculty Member. we've heard the incredible legacy the incredible impact that he had on this law school in such a fundamental important and meaningful way and so last fall, we started the process of thinking about how we could capture and continue to have that legacy with us forever. and working with the family, we are so proud to say that we accelerated a timeline on the portrait that we wanted to put up in this law school to remember, Professor Harper to remember that joy that humor that challenge to be better. That demand to ensure justice. That helping hand that sparkle in his eyes. And so we were able to come up with an artist David stanger who's known for his portraits that have a deep knowledge of old master technique. And approached with contemporary awareness his work has been featured in lots of places the national portrait gallery in London, the Carnegie museum of art. The mattress factory. and many others, and we are so delighted that he is here today, to help me unveil the portrait of Professor Robert Harper so come on forward we're going to show everybody. This amazing. Now I have to say there's been some debate about whether it should go next to that office where everybody could find it but i'm going to tell you today we've made the decision that we're going to have this portrait on the first floor. Everybody. I can't thank everybody enough for being here again, it is a great honor for all of us to have all of Professor Harper's family, friends with us on this important day Thank you again to everyone, we really appreciate it and Professor Harper what a legacy, you have left us here. we're going to include the program I want to just be thanked like everyone who took place in putting everything together for our uncle Henry that he says, I never call him uncle in front of everybody and calling. Monica Reina Derek all the staff and Members of the law school here who have taken part in just putting all of this together, thank you that's a beautiful program and a great honor and not only for uncle Robert for us as a family also. So we pray Father God we just thank you and we praise you for this day, once again, we thank you for your protection over all of us we pray that you would. watch over us keep us safe we prayed to strengthen us in all things that we do now, I pray that the Lord bless you and keep you the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you the Lord lift up his countenance to you and give you peace amen.
Okay, this does conclude our program and the service, the family will now depart for the reception and then guess we'll follow please follow the size to the reception in the outcome of our room. We hope you can join us to continue celebrating the life of Robert Harper there is no formal program during the reception no food or drink will be served in the room lunches are available upon exit from the reception, thank you.
University of Pittsburgh School of Law