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MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR
SENIOR JUDGE THEODORE TANNENWALD, JR.
March 12, 1999
THE CLERK: All rise. The United States Tax Court will now meet in special session, Chief Judge Mary Ann Cohen presiding.
CHIEF JUDGE COHEN: Good afternoon. Welcome to this special session of the United States Tax Court. We are gathered here this afternoon to remember Judge Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. We are here not only to honor him, for he received many honors during his lifetime. We are here to comfort ourselves by noting the many ways in which he lives through those whose lives he touched. Foremost, certainly, are his family members. Those who could be here today are his wife, Pete, his sons, Peter and Robert, his daughter-inlaw, Carol, and his grandson, Jonathan Tannenwald.
We also have with us today many distinguished guests, including, but not limited to, as we lawyers say, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Donald Lubick, Chief Counsel Stuart Brown, several former Commissioners of Internal Revenue, professors, Government lawyers, and private practitioners, as well as our Senior Judges and Special Trial Judges and many Court employees, all of whom were friends of Theodore Tannenwald.
Mrs. Tannenwald has received literally hundreds of letters from others throughout the world who could not be here today, and one of them I will read later. Those who speak on the record today will attempt to express the feelings of all of these people, but we recognize that today is simply a formal and limited opportunity to convey the thoughts that we will carry with us throughout our lives.
Theodore Tannenwald, Jr., was born on July 28, 1916, in Valatie, New York. He attended Brown University, graduating summa cum laude in 1936 with an A.B. degree in political science and mathematics. He graduated magna cum
laude from Harvard Law School in 1939, receiving the Fay Diploma for the highest 3-year average. He was awarded an honorary DDL in 1976 by the University of Cincinnati and an honorary DHL the same year by Hebrew Union College.
Ted Tannenwald practiced law from 1939 through 1965 in New York City with the firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, except for absences during World War II for service with the Federal Government. His public service included various positions with the State and Defense Departments. He was also counsel to W. Averell Harriman, then Special Assistant to President Truman. Ted served as Assistant Director for Mutual Security from 1951 to April 1, 1953. He was a member of President Kennedy's Task Force on Foreign Assistance, and Special Assistant to the Secretary of State in 1961.
Judge Tannenwald was appointed to the United States Tax Court by President Johnson in 1965 and reappointed in 1974. In 1981, he was elected by his colleagues to serve a 2-year term as Chief Judge. He assumed senior status on July 1, 1983, but he continued to serve as a Senior Judge on recall, carrying a substantial workload. He was active in the work of the Court's committees and was always available to his colleagues seeking the benefit of his broad experience and good judgment.
Judge Tannenwald taught at the University of San Diego School of Law, George Washington University School of Law, and the University of Miami School of Law, and he participated in numerous continuing legal education programs.
He was an active member of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Association Taxation Section, the Federal Bar Association, and the District of Columbia Bar Association, and he was an honorary member and honorary chairman of the board of Hebrew Union College. In 1998, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the American Bar Association Section of Taxation.
This morning, I received a letter from Samuel C. Thompson, Jr., former dean of the Law School at Miami, and currently Tax Policy Advisor to the Republic of South Africa. After expressing regrets for not being able to be here today, he writes:
Judge Tannenwald taught a tax procedure class to our graduate students. As would be expected, the course was challenging and insightful. I
know from many conversations I had with his students that they had a special relationship with him. They particularly appreciated his unique combination of extraordinary intellectual capacity and of genuine concern for his students as individuals. His students in the law school will always be indebted to him for his immense contribution. Personally, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to have known Judge Tannenwald and to know his lovely wife Pete. Judge Tannenwald was one of those special individuals who could reach out and touch the heart and soul of a person. He touched his students and he touched me. For this, I will be thankful.
An hour ago, I spoke with Special Trial Judge Larry Nameroff from Los Angeles, who also could not be here today, and he told me something that I did not know until today. When now Judge Nameroff was a District Counsel lawyer trying cases in the Tax Court, he appeared before Judge Tannenwald, and he was very inspired by Judge Tannenwald's impressive knowledge of the case and also his quick perception of what the case was about, but he was most inspired when Judge Tannenwald took Judge Nameroff's small daughter on his lap and made her feel welcome in the courtroom.
Our Reporter of Decisions, who is keenly aware of the quality and volume of opinions, noted that 40 percent of Judge Tannenwald's 1,012 opinions were officially published by the Court because of their precedential value.
Shortly after Judge Tannenwald died on January 17 of this year, the Tax Court newsletter was published. The editor was a Court employee in the Administrative Office who had previously served as trial clerk and had been out on sessions with Judge Tannenwald. Among the things that she wrote was the following: “We have all had the experience of learning the most from those most tough and demanding of teachers. Judge Tannenwald was such a teacher whose high standards sprang from his own intellectual rigor, deep respect for the profession of law, and devotion to his role as Judge and public servant.”
We have here today three representatives of the many who were fortunate to be in the position of having learned from Ted Tannenwald. Professor Martin Ginsburg, Mr. McGee Grigsby, and Judge James Halpern will share their experiences, and then I will close.