Memory of Harold Richman
a privilege to be here
with so many people who loved and admired Harold and to celebrate his
together. I have admired and loved him for over 35 years.
like to start by sharing
a recent experience which I think will be familiar to many here. Two
ago I attended a meeting with someone whose work I'd heard about for a
time. As I listened to her remarks throughout the day, I was intrigued
her insights and observations. During a break we struck up a
discovered something we had in common: knowing Harold. And our
changed immediately. First, her delight: "Oh, you know Harold!" Then
warmth in her voice as she spoke about him. Then, a quiet smile as she
said, "You know... he changed my life."
I do know. He changed
mine as well. And I suspect most of us here would say something
similar. We're all people whose lives have been touched, and probably
changed, by the
joy of knowing Harold Richman.
was extraordinary. He had all the qualities you'd want in a mentor or a
colleague, and then some. He was fiendishly smart, of course, and
funny, disciplined, irreverent, wise. He made our lives more
vivid and interesting. He was incapable of pretension and
had a natural dignity that commanded respect. He was a born leader and
pathologically modest. His influence was enormous. He shaped the minds
thousands of students. His writing was ahead of its time. He built new
organizations – Chapin Hall, the international policy centers
that reflect his values, maintain his standards and have made huge
contributions to the well-being of kids and families.
Harold cared most about was people. His most far-reaching influence,
to think, is through the hundreds, probably thousands of people who
years viewed him as a unique mentor, colleague and friend. We're a
people with whom Harold shared his gifts – and whose work is
understanding of the world is richer, and whose motivation to make a
is keener because of him.
could change your life
with a light, almost invisible touch. He was one of the world's great
listeners. Matt Stagner from Chapin Hall reminisced last night and
quintessential exchange with Harold. One would ramble on, sharing a
thoughts, and Harold would listen patiently through it all, asking an
occasional question. Then, at some point he'd pick out the one idea of
value, reflect it back to you, and leave you convinced that that was
central point all along. I came to think of those as "rebound insights"
Harold – and of course relied on them.
long time could pass
between contacts with Harold. It didn't seem to matter. When seeing him
his interest in you
understanding of you,
intense as ever.
purest joy, though, was
working with him closely, month after month, year after year, on
both cared about. It's then that one understood fully the focus, the
discipline of purpose, the commitment to achieving a goal that animated
everything he truly cared about. He was about taking action, doing,
Meltzer and I met Harold
when we were students at the School of Social Services Adminstration
the University, just after he'd become Dean. My start with him wasn't
promising. We had different philosophies about attending classes. When
run into Harold on campus, something I tried to avoid, he'd suggest
once in a while I should drop in at the school. Eventually, both Judy
enrolled in his policy course, not realizing it was the beginning of a
pattern of learning from Harold.
the years, the work we did
together changed, but the bond among the three of us never did. With
Harold helped create the Center for the Study of Social Policy, a home
a number of us here, where Harold was the first and then the most
chair. And as years passed, Harold weighed in on the important
people there, keeping us on track with the values of family, of
of social justice that he stood for.
important point, though,
is that our strong ties with Harold were not at all unique. Harold
them with many people here and many others around the world.
was not perfect, of
course. He had a dark side that emerged only on the squash court. When
him for a game of squash, he was his usual solicitous self as you
walked to the
gym, chatted in the locker room, warmed up before the game. But when
serve was in play, he morphed into the Rafael Nadal of Hyde Park
half the biceps but twice the intensity. He defied the laws of physics.
short legs could not possibly move him around the court so quickly, yet
he was, just where he couldnÕt be. He was joyously
competitive. Once during a
game that I was losing badly, I explained that my recent retinal
it difficult for me to see the ball. He murmured, "Oh, too bad"
slammed another forehand past me. He said it was another type of lesson
and I spoke in the
last weeks, when his voice was just a thread. He had very specific
about the Center and its future and nothing was going to stop him from
it. Judy Meltzer and I were both in my office for one of his last
was Lee Schorr, who meant a great deal to him. I told him that we'd
over the organization that he'd created. Modest as ever, he said, "I
create it. Tom Joe did". Across the room, Judy said to me, "But he
us". I repeated that to Harold, and there was a long pause. "OK", he
whispered. "That I'll take".
from all of us you
helped create, from all of us you inspired, from all of us whose lives
infinitely better for knowing you, we celebrate you. Your voice will be
us for the rest of our days.