Thursday, September 22, 2016

Dan Gerson

The Harris County Criminal Justice Community lost one of our legends overnight with the untimely passing of our friend, Dan Gerson.  He had been battling cancer for some time now, and although this loss was not unexpected, it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.  From judges to prosecutors to defense attorneys to police and court personnel, everyone seems to have known Danny and to know the guy was to love him.

In a building that is already brimming with personality, Dan was a standout.  Easily one of the most well-dressed attorneys, he alternated between the laughing friend that you always enjoyed talking to and the formidable attorney representing his client.  He did so seamlessly.  He was thoughtful, perceptive, funny, suave and kind.  A fellow attorney, commenting on Facebook, noted Dan's "quiet grace" and I can't think of a more succinct way to describe him.

He certainly wasn't an over-the-top type of lawyer.  He was quiet, yet gregarious.  Serious, yet bitingly funny.  He told war stories that were engrossing, and I never heard him tell the same story twice.  He was sincere and asked about your family, and he truly wanted to hear the answers.  He adored his family and he loved hearing about his friends' families too.

Dan was also a gateway to the history of Harris County Criminal Justice.  He literally had been practicing law since I was one year old.  He fully grasped how fascinating the cases and personalities that had passed through the hallways of the courthouses were and he would tell the stories.  He always downplayed his roll in them, but he recognized how important knowing those stories.

I've always said that the best thing about practicing in Harris County was that we younger lawyers got the opportunity to walk amongst Giants.  Dan recognized that principle in telling the stories of the old days, but he never acknowledged that he was a Giant himself.  

Dan had battled serious illness before and defeated it.  He made a point to check in with those who went through their own medical battles later on.  He was a kind and caring man.  

He also had a great sense of humor.

Those of us in the courthouse community have known that Dan was quite ill for some time.  Although we all hoped for the best, we have all known for awhile that our time left with him was running short.  Not quite as short, however, as some thought.  A month or so ago, an attorney erroneously notified the HCCLA Listserve that Dan had passed away.  Given Dan's prominent place in the community, word of his passing spread like wildfire.  Fortunately, the information was premature, and Dan took to Facebook to let his friends, family and fans know that the rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

There are few people in the world who could have appreciated the humor of such a false rumor like Dan did.  It also gave all of us an opportunity to pour out our emotions and tell him how much we loved him and were relieved that he was still with us.  If there was ever something positive to come out of a false rumor, I suppose this may have been the one example.

Dan was a true Renaissance man, and he easily had one of the most entertaining Facebook pages on the internet.  The travels with his family and the cool cars and cool places were always fun to see.  Few people possess Dan's self-confidence.  Only he would have the confidence to be a skinny bald man rocking the striped Speedo in the 80s.

The last time I saw Dan, he told me he was having to go back for more treatment and would be out for a while.  As always, he was smiling, upbeat, and funny.  He knew what he was about to start, and he still exhibited that quiet grace.  About a week ago, his wife posted a picture of Dan as he was walking into chemotherapy.  Dapper as always, he was wearing a collared shirt.  He was suave even in the worst of times.

There was a definite sadness in the courthouse about the loss of our friend, today.  He made his mark there and he was truly loved.  The place will truly not be the same without him.

I'm not alone in saying that I will miss my friend very much.


Anonymous said...

I will always remember Dan. He was a class act indeed. Rest in peace my friend.

txjboy said...

I've known Danny personally most of my life. So glad the legal community, like many of us, got to know him. I loved this man and will miss him terribly. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I am Danny's sister, Paula Gerson Pozmantier. All our family are deeply touched by your tribute to Danny. We would love to meet you. The family are receiving visitors at home through the weekend and would welcome you.

Asha Reddi said...

Murray, what an incredibly touching and beautiful tribute! I just found out today. I am deeply saddened by the passing of a giant. What a wonderful role model he was! I first met him when I was a first year law student at South Texas College of Law (now Houston College of Law). It is a reminder to all of us how precious and fleeting life is. Rest in peace my friend! Shalom!