Washington, May 21, 2019
I am saddened to hear of the passing of a truly great Floridian, Sandy D'Alemberte. As it does for so many, his passing pains me both personally and for our state and country. Sandy was a voice for reason, the rule of law, decency and kindness - a "necessary man" for all his time and certainly for these times. It is enough to remember him as a brilliant legislator, president of the American Bar Association (ABA), Florida State University (FSU) president and Florida Constitutional scholar. And, much loved dean while I was at FSU College of Law. However, Sandy was indispensable in so many instances in Florida's history - both the big moments and some moments that most of his fellow Floridians might never know about but which were just as grand. One of the latter was his embrace of Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio and his fight to be admitted to the Florida Bar. Jose graduated valedictorian of his class at Armwood High School in Hillsborough County, Fla. and went on to attend FSU College of Law. Jose made history when he graduated from FSU College of Law and passed the Florida Bar exam, but when he sought admittance to the Florida Bar as an undocumented immigrant, this great American Story almost came to an end. Sandy's belief in the law, fair play and young people caused him to take on this injustice. He brought together a team, including me, past presidents of the ABA, bipartisan members of the Florida Legislature and others, to successfully confront this quiet individual inequity just as he had taken on more large and public challenges for all of Florida. Like so many public officials, I can say that Sandy has helped make me a better representative for my neighbors in Tampa and throughout Florida. I sought his counsel for Florida's future as recently as last fall. The gracious efforts by Sandy on behalf of the small and the grand, and the foundation he has laid for the legal community, higher education, his state and his country will hopefully be of some solace to Patsy and his family.