John Gardner at Home

Memories from Hans Oberdiek

Dear John,

John Oberdiek let me know about the return of your cancer: everyone who knows you even a little bit is so very distressed. I spoke the other day to Mark Freedland, a retired lawyer from St. Johns. He said that you are ‘a great scholar' and then remarked that you have ‘great humanity’. I share his sentiments completely.

Of the many times we’ve been together, a few stand out. The first was your initial presentation to the Analytic Jurisprudence group, and I thought it was fantastic — and wanted to get to know you better. Another time we toured the Getty together, and you and I talked about you standing to be the first Dean of the law school. I think I advised that you were too good a scholar to spend time doing that, though I was sure you would have been highly successful. And then I remember sitting either next to or behind you at a conference — again, probably the Analytic Jurisprudence group — and your screen saver was showing photos of a woman and at least one child I didn’t know. Being nosey, I inquired, and — with a big John Gardner smile — you said that you were becoming ‘close' to a woman name ‘Jenny’ and her family. That — as I’m sure you’d agree — was one of the best moves you made!

Your philosophical contributions, John, are immense. The essays that comprise “Law as a Leap of Faith”, for example, are full of insight and a joy to read. But as a teacher, I’ve used your “51/2 Myths” paper every time I teach jurisprudence. I think we shared a bus ride (perhaps back from LHR?) in which you said you wrote it flying to Notre Dame to give a lecture! And there is so much more. Your humanity in teaching so regularly with Tony was a gift to him (and I know you’d say to yourself, too) and the students. I watched your touching discussion with Tony on YouTube when he finally fully retired.

John, I’m in Oxford until June 12th. I know you have more than enough on your plate, but if you’d like some company, please don’t hesitate to ask, OK?