Sunday, June 9, 2013

Joe Thibodeau Jules Ritholtz Award Remarks (6/9/13)

A DOJ Tax alumnus, Joe Thibodeau, received the Jules Ritholz award, here, at the Civil and Criminal Penalties Section Luncheon on May 10, 2013.  I attended that session and asked Joe to write up his remarks because, well, I thought they were remarkable.  In his remarks, Joe said that an important decision in his life was to join the Tax Division.  And, Joe had some gracious things to say about our late colleague and friend, Jerry Feffer.  (The Tax Division Alumni Blog on Jerry's Passing is here.)  Accordingly, I offer here Joe's complete remarks  in pdf format for readers to view or download and have cut and paste some of the remarks as they relate to the Tax Division.  By excerpting, I do not mean to take away from any part of his remarks and I strongly encourage readers to view and download the complete pdf.
There is no greater honor for a professional than to be recognized by his/her peers. 
There is no professional group for whom I have greater respect, admiration and affection – or from whom that recognition would mean more -- than the members of this committee. 
"Iron Men/Wooden Ships" 
Second only to my decision (a light-year, nearly 50 years - - ago), to apply for a trial attorney slot in the Tax Division, among the most important professional decisions that I’ve made, 3 were to:  (1) Join this Committee; (2) Teach in D.U.’s Graduate Tax Program; and, (3) Hire Mary.   
Clearly, of the 3, hiring Mary – 30 years ago -- was the most important.  Without her nothing would have been possible. 
But, joining this Committee was a close second.

* * * * 
But, I could not possibly accept this award without acknowledging and crediting the one person, who, for me – and I suspect for many others in this room (including the 5 D.C. "tax Divas") – provided ongoing inspiration, support, and encouragement in Jules’ image.
Jerry was much more than a super-star as a lawyer!  He was a super friend – to us all. 
He drew us all together.  “Jerry’s show” was -- and always will be -- Jerry’s show.  But, he included all of us. 
For the more than 30 years that I came to know, work with, and love Jerry, he never faltered.  His “you can do this, Joe”, encouragement was always there.  He was a great source of strength and courage.   
He never failed to return a phone call -- typically the same day; at the latest, the next.  He always had time to discuss issues, problems, questions -- yours.  Never heard him say anything negative about anyone; conversely, anyone about Jerry.  He always had time for you. Most importantly, he always took the time to be a friend.  Jerry was the lawyer's lawyer.   
He was a “class act” in every way.   The personification of all that is good and noble about the practice of law, and the courageous and compassionate representation of, and service to, others. 
I doubt that there is anyone in this room who wasn’t, in some way, touched by Jerry and his extraordinary life.  We will sorely miss him!
I Do Have to Register One Complaint 
But, Jerry, if you’re listening, there's just one more thing I have to say to you:  "you went way to far; you really pissed us off”!  You raised the bar so high that none of the rest of us will ever be able to reach it!   
Even in the days of your final illness, you heroically continued to put others ahead of yourself, never complaining; even spear-heading fundraising efforts for education and Parkinson’s research. 
Your “team Feffer” raised, by far, more money in the D.C. Parkinson’s “Walk” than any other – over $70,000, nearly 20% of the total from all teams combined; highest in Country.

And so, Jerry and Jules:  We salute you, we love you, we thank you, we miss you!
A personal postscript:  I knew Jerry in Law School (UVA Law Class of '67) and thus, I suspect, have known him than most of his colleagues.  He exhibited the qualities that Joe praises all the time I knew him.

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