Friday, June 27, 2008
Happy 80th, Governor Deukmejian
This matter comes before us occasioned by the recognition of a milestone marker upon the roadway which accompanies and parallels the eventual passage of time.
We reflect and opine on the quality and breadth of a lifetime of service and to judge the contributions of one George Deukmejian, hereinafter affectionately referred to as “The Duke.”
It must be noted at the outset that “The Duke” has manifested a consistent and enduring love for his nation and state.
Accepting his military responsibility, he served his country honorably by a tour of duty in the United States Army, with service in Europe. We observe that early in his foray into the unknown forests of tomorrow he demonstrated a trait for patriotism which would influence all the activities engaged in throughout the years which would follow.
He knew that patriotism and noble service are counterparts, and he found a harmonic resonance in their combination. His tenure in the office of County Council and as a State Assemblyman and a State Senator, all reflected the inner sense of contribution for the public good.
As with all patriots, a higher call to duty beckoned a response. That summons was for the office of Attorney General which loomed as an attainable objective. With the uncertainty but commitment of an infantry maneuver, and after notable skirmishes, the goal was reached and a fully committed contribution was made during the term. On a mission as the chief law enforcement officer of the state, he acted firmly and decisively in the myriad of activities thrust upon him.
There, in the trenches of the law, he saw with clearer vision the critical value of judgment, the last word in the trinity of executive, legislative and judicial conduct imposed into the administration of justice.
Passionate in the belief that he could impact the path of the law by involvement in the appointive process, he began to ponder the attainment of the office of governor, where such power resided.
On a continuum of inspiration, he again accepted the soldier’s challenge of warfare and entered into the race for the highest office in California. The effort was majestic. He couldn’t and didn’t lose. As the son of an immigrant nation, he had dreamt the impossible dream and reached the unreachable laurels of victory. In retrospect, his service as Governor for two terms, from 1983 to 1991, was a paradigm for all who would seek that high place of leadership, and he fulfilled his goal of societal redirection by making approximately 1,000 judicial appointments. His cup runneth over and many within his world shared vicariously an elation previously unknown.
We now answer the inquiry which relates to the lasting footprints of his stewardship.
It is beyond debate that the hallmark of his conduct has been one of consistency, concern and character.
To know him is to know a classic.
Straight as an arrow in purpose.
Gentle in forgiveness.
Steadfast in perseverance.
Pure in dedication.
Bountiful in affection.
Reserved in countenance.
His verbalism would be devoid of the profane, elevated in tone, and measured in response.
He was not one to suffer fools gladly and demonstrated an ability to cut to the chase. Resolution, not vacillation, was his methodology. Consequently, his soul ever sought a quiet refuge and in solitude he found his sustenance and resolve.
He was humble where others would be arrogant, guarded where others would react. A healer where others would draw the sword and those who sought to diminish him only lessened themselves.
Cast from a minority background, he was ever mindful of the needs of the less fortunate and the oppressed.
His guiding light was the beacon of common sense and of pragmatism.
He believed in being resourceful. Waste not, want not, was surely a motto of his every day.
He cared deeply about his reputation and that of his every office, seeking a lasting judgment which would be one of admiration and respect.
He was slow to flattery but fast to laughter. If you sought his favor, all you had to do was make him smile, because humor would quickly lighten the burdens of his day and he could respond in kind.
Once, while seeking the attorney general’s office and filming a commercial in the setting of a courtroom, he walked towards the witness box. When reminded that many victims had trod across that same place, feeling the weight of the campaign, he responded, “I feel like the next one.”
After his victory, standing at the bottom of lower Yosemite falls, following a huge winter runoff, experiencing the enormous pounding of water into the trembling ground, he visualized the power of the almighty and the inconsequential nature of man as but a grain of sand. The lesson was not lost on him for in his deepest recess he sought solace and guidance from his God who would protect him in adversity and who would calm him in his pain.
In sum, we recognize the overwhelming body of evidence which stands in solid credible support of our ultimate thought that his life has been most worthy and represents a distinguished voyage across the seas of some eighty years. Accordingly we rise in his honor, inspired by his presence, proud to have been in the pleasure of his company and entered upon the docket of his legacy and time.
California Supreme Court, Retired
June 14, 2008
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company