This article originally appeared in The Bar Examiner print edition, June 2015 (Vol. 84, No. 2), pp 60.
Richard J. Bartlett, former chair of NCBE (1995–1996), died on May 6, 2015. The following is a tribute to Dick written by Diane F. Bosse, former NCBE chair and current chair of the New York State Board of Law Examiners.
By Diane F. BosseIn June 2000, the New York State Board of Law Examiners met at Diamond Point on Lake George in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. My lasting memory of those few glorious days is not of the questions we drafted for the bar exam but rather of chugging across the lake with our chair, Dick Bartlett, at the helm of his boat as we made our way to his favorite spot in the world, his camp on Fourteen Mile Island.
Dick died on May 6, 2015, leaving behind memories of many such happy times. He leaves behind his mark on bar examining, on the legal profession, on the countless lives of those he helped with problems great and small, and on the hearts of those of us who were privileged to have him as a mentor and a friend. Dick also leaves behind an unparalleled legacy of service.
Richard J. Bartlett was born on February 15, 1926, in Glens Falls, New York. After attending Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, he was admitted to the bar in New York in 1949. He then returned to Glens Falls and embarked on a legal career that included service as an assemblyman in the New York state legislature, a justice of the New York Supreme Court, the first chief administrative judge of the New York Unified Court System, president of the New York State Bar Foundation, and dean of Albany Law School, as well as longtime practice in the law firm he founded and which bears his name.
Dick’s service to the craft of bar examining began in 1986 when he was appointed by our Court of Appeals to the New York State Board of Law Examiners. He became our chair in 1998 and retired from the Board in 2001. Dick served on the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ Board of Trustees from 1987 to 1997, chairing the Board in 1995–1996. He thereafter continued his involvement with NCBE as its delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates. He was honored with the NCBE Chair’s Award by then NCBE chair Greg Murphy in 2001.
Dick gave generously of his time and unbounded energy to his community. He received many awards and honors for his professional and community service, including the Gold Medal from the New York State Bar Association and lifetime achievement awards from the New York State Bar Association and the New York Law Journal.
But, although his accomplishments were many and extraordinary, Dick will be most remembered for who he was, not what he did. Dick was insightful, principled, persuasive, and an effective strategist and problem-solver. He had a quick wit and a quicker mind. He was thoughtful, compassionate, humble, cheerful, and a true and loyal friend. He was firm in his faith and in his love of and dedication to his family, his country, his community, and his profession.
On a cool and cloudless morning in May, the life of Dick Bartlett was celebrated at a Mass in his beloved Glens Falls. As Dick’s casket was carried out of St. Mary’s Church, with ranks of lawyers, judges, and members of the community lining the steps of the church, there were tears for sure, but mostly gratitude and joy for the great blessing of having had Dick in our lives.
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