Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Monday, December 30, 2013

More than anything else Outside Counsel is intended to be a notebook, a place for me to record thoughts that might otherwise flit away, and yet what I find, going over it at the end of the year, is that what I typically record tends to be along the lines of notes on culture, travel, politics and law. While that's fine, a great deal goes on that falls outside of those circles on my Venn Diagram. For example, until this entry two notable funerals we attended have gone unremarked on.

Dan Roach taught A and me Trial Techniques. (It was a small class, and everyone in it was notable: I was partnered with my friend Pat Dooley, the late Mike Doran, Cheryl Possenti, and Gary Carlton rounded it out. All are having significant careers). He was a product of the GI Bill generation of lawyers that opened up our glamor profession to a period of ferment and creativity that was unlike any other in the history of American jurisprudence. There are a handful of lawyers who have influenced every day of my professional life and Dan was absolutely one of them; he was a great influence on everyone he met. Civil, erudite and possessed of skills that were equaled by few and surpassed by none, he was a legend. On his last night alive he asked his daughter to read him Robinson Crusoe, gently corrected her few mispronunciations, then fell asleep. His funeral was a celebration of a life that anyone would want to have lived, and the sort of death we all might wish for, surrounded by his family.

On Christmas Eve Sean Hetzner died in his sleep at the age of 42, and we attended his funeral Saturday. Our block-and-a-half street is a funny little village in the heart of the city, and Sean's mother is sort of our unofficial mayor. The Hetzner family is a tight-knit unit that everyone loves, and Sean was a cheerful part of the fabric of our life on Lancaster Avenue-- and the lives of the larger community as well-- for as long as we've been in Buffalo. Around the corner from our house is Forest Lawn, a cemetery established in 1849, filled with 19th Century funerary art. One common memorial from that time is a sculpture of a tree trunk cut off at the top, an obvious bit of symbolism that perfectly represents the Hetzner's loss, although I am sure his stone will be more in keeping with contemporary style. 

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