Academic journal article Vanderbilt Law Review

In Memoriam: Jeffrey Ralph Pettit

Academic journal article Vanderbilt Law Review

In Memoriam: Jeffrey Ralph Pettit

Article excerpt

I got the news of Jeff's death in a hotel room in Minneapolis, where I was attending a conference. (Ironically, as will be evident in a moment, it was a conference on federalism.) I got the news over voice mail, and hung up the phone and stared into space. There really was only one way to remember Jeff. Bright eyes, eager grin. Involved, active, caring. It was too much to connect that Jeff with the tragic news I had just heard.

I had come to know Jeff under difficult circumstances, all the more to appreciate his personal elegance. Jeff was the Symposium Editor for the Vanderbilt Law Review's upcoming conference on federalism. I was the advisor for the Review, and also happened to have been very involved in putting the conference together, long before Jeff came on the scene. We both were passionate about the conference, but also had some conflicting views as to how things should be done. Jeff had not been a student of mine previously, and I did not know him well at that time. Suffice it to say we came to loggerheads; Jeff expressed himself to me in an impassioned letter, and I tossed one right back.

From this awkward beginning grew a dear friendship, one characterized by Jeff's abundant caring for fellow human beings. From that time forward I had the privilege of working (and playing) hard with Jeff, and I grew to have the utmost respect for the man. Jeff's solution to our immediate problem was to come see me and stress how much it meant to him to have a good working relationship. His humanity and sincerity were striking, and we quickly forgot our anger and became dear friends. …

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