Justice Bert D. Chandler Memorial

JUNE 11, 1948

BERT D. CHANDLER Services held in the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan, on Friday, June 11, 1948, at 1 p.m.
Chief Justice GEORGE E. BUSHNELL: This Court is convened for the sole purpose of paying tribute to our late associate, the Hon. BERT D. CHANDLER. Mr. Paul W. Chase of Hillsdale has been good enough to arrange a program for us, and those who will speak will be Mr. Lucien D. Walworth, Judge George A. Rathbun, Mr. Charles L. Robertson, and Judge RAYMOND W. STARR. At the conclusion of Judge STARR’s remarks if there is anyone present who has anything to say, they may do so then. The Court will hear Mr. Walworth.

May it please the Court: I consider it a distinct honor to have been requested to participate in these memorial exercises and to pay tribute to the late Justice BERT D. CHANDLER. It is, nevertheless, a difficult task for me because of sentiment arising out of the close relationship that existed between us for several years immediately prior to his death.
Justice CHANDLER was born in Rollin Township, Lenawee County, Michigan, on March 19, 1869. He attended the public schools in Addison and Hudson, and later studied law in the office of the late GRANT FELLOWS, a former Justice of this Court. Subsequent to his admission to the bar on May 27, 1890, he formed a law partnership with Justice FELLOWS which continued until 1917, with the exception of the period during the years 1914 and 1915 when he served as a judge of the 39th judicial circuit. He practiced law with Fred C. Culver of Hudson from 1928 under the firm name of Chandler and Culver until his election to this Court in 1936 to fill an unexpired term occasioned by the death of Justice NELSON SHARPE. After his retirement on December 31, 1943, he continued to live in Hudson until his death on December 13, 1947.

It has always seemed to me that Justice CHANDLER was endowed with more than the usual number of characteristics which are necessary to make one a lovable and successful man. Although lacking the opportunity to secure a formal legal education, he possessed the energy and determination to obtain that education by his own efforts, so that he became recognized as one of the ablest lawyers in his section of the State. He possessed the will to win, he had a keen sense of justice, and once convinced of the merits of his client’ s cause he was untiring in his efforts to bring it to a successful conclusion This same attitude marked his efforts as a member of this Court. The thought had not occurred to him that he would be elected and afterward I know that he was reluctant to assume the duties of a Justice because of his limited formal education. However, the mere fact that he had been elected was, I believe, a challenge to him which he met with characteristic determination.

His success is to be measured not only by the results he obtained in his chosen profession, but by the confidence others placed in his business judgment. His advice was; sought by many engaged in commercial endeavors and at the time of his death he was, and had been for many years, a member of the board of directors of Parker Rust Proof Company of Detroit, and Hardie Manufacturing Company and Thompson Savings Bank of Hudson.

To know Justice CHANDLER intimately was an opportunity to gain an insight into those personal attributes which made him the lovable character that he was. I had the fortune to serve as his law clerk and secretary during his entire tenure on this bench, and I have thought many times that the host of friends he had from every walk of life spoke more eloquently of his success as a man than his business and professional accomplishments.

He was kind, courteous, generous, honest, humble and deeply interested in the welfare of his friends and acquaintances. He always spoke kindly of others and was able to see and appreciate the good qualities in his fellow men. If he could not speak good of a person, he spoke no evil. He was particularly interested in the poor and those less fortunate than himself and performed many kind and charitable acts which were know to no one except himself and the recipient.
I believe his moral stature and high sense of sportsmanship are best illustrated by his attitude at the time he was defeated for re-election to this Court by a margin of two votes. Although disappointed, as any of us would be, he was sincere in his desire to place the dignity of this Court above personal interest and to abide by democratic processes in which he deeply believed. To dispute the result of a contest such as this was inconceivable to him. I well remember the day when I drove with him from Hudson to Lansing for a conference at the insistence of acquaintances who were urging him to demand a recount of the votes. The discussion never seriously materialized at least as far as Justice CHANDLER was concerned. He had a high regard for Justice BOYLES who had defeated him. After arriving in Lansing, and before the meeting, he said to me that he had no intention of causing any recount. He thought that it would be unfair to Justice BOYLES, that it would lower the dignity of this Court, and that if one did not want to abide by the result of an election he should not run for office. He later told me that the many editorials which were written and the many communications he received complimenting him on his statesmanship and sportsmanship meant more to him than any honor or material gain he would have acquired had he been successful in the election.

In the death of Justice CHANDLER, the State of Michigan lost an outstanding citizen, the legal profession lost an eminent member, and I lost my closest friend.

Chief Justice BUSHNELL: Now we will hear from the Honorable George A. Rathbun, Judge of the 39th Judicial Circuit.

 Judge GEORGE A. RATHBUN: Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Supreme Court, members of the Hillsdale and Lenawee bars, and others here assembled to pay their respects to our departed friend, Justice BERT D. CHANDLER. I feel that it is both an honor and a privilege to appear as one of the representatives of the bar of Lenawee county. It is with a sense of happy memories that I speak.

Justice CHANDLER died at his home in Hudson, Michigan, on the 13th day of December, 1947. He was born on the old Chandler homestead on the south shore of Devils Lake, in Lenawee county. His early education was acquired in the district schools, and the high schools of Hudson: and Addison. He then studied law in the office of the late Justice GRANT FELLOWS. That was a common means of a legal education in those earlier days, and of the men of those days, it has been truly said that they were members of the old school. After his admission to the practice of his chosen profession he formed a partnership with Mr. FELLOWS. The law firm of FELLOWS and CHANDLER, while they were both active Practitioners, was known as one of the best law firms in the State Michigan.

Upon the. death of Judge John L. O’Mealey, of the 39th Judicial Circuit, Mr. CHANDLER was appointed to fill that vacancy and served as our circuit judge for a short time. And during that brief period he endeared himself to all lawyers who came before him, as a kindly and courteous trial judge. And because of his lovable courtesy, and his keen legal mind and judicial temperament, he commanded the respect and courtesy of every attorney who came before him.

I feel that I am entitled to say that it was my privilege to be one of his close and dear friends, not only as a member of the profession, but in -the ordinary walks of life and social contacts. Immediately upon learning of his death together with Mrs. Rathbun, I went to the Chandler home to pay our respects to his dear wife and other members of his family. We were deeply grieved by his sudden death, because to within a few hours of his passing he had, been in apparent good health, and was sick but only a few hours. We often say that it is a lovely way to leave this world, but we must always realize that it is deeply hard for the near relatives and also near friends.

I felt a deep sense of sympathy for the grief of his dear wife, and I could realize how extreme would be her grief because of my full understanding of the close companionship that had. always existed between Carrie and Bert, as we all knew them. And yet I realized that my good friend would not want his associates to grieve, and in driving home I recalled to my good wife many of the happy times that Justice CHANDLER and I, together with other close friends of our bar, had had together, long before the days that any of us had held any office in our profession.

Although I could relate so many instances of the pleasures the members of our bar have had with Justice CHANDLER, I do feel justified in speaking of one occasion. Long before the bar of Michigan became an incorporated association, Justice CHANDLER, Mr. William B. Alexander, Mr. Charles L. Robertson and myself, usually attended the State Bar meetings together. I do not exactly remember the year, but I recall that, in my experience, it was the first time that the State Bar and the Judges’ Association held their meetings at the same time and place. That was the meeting held at St. Joseph. And that was back in those earlier days when we all enjoyed playing golf. My good friend Glenn Warner, who later became Judge Warner, had told me of their unusual nine-hole golf course at Paw Paw, and he hoped that I could sometime play that course. We four men stopped at Paw Paw, and not being able to find Mr. Warner, went to the golf course and asked the privilege of paying greens fees and playing. That privilege was readily granted us, but we were confronted with the problem of changing to our golf clothing, the club then being too young in years to afford a clubhouse for that apparent necessity. But our good friend Chandler, always equal to any emergency, suggested that we could use the toolhouse for that purpose, and that we did. We really enjoyed our play that afternoon, because it was an unusually hilly course and so different from what we had expected, that it produced many laughable experiences. And with the sweat of toil from keen competition still upon our bodies, we changed back to our business clothing and proceeded to the hotel in Benton Harbor for better cleanliness. I have stopped to relate but this one incident from many happy associations of us four men, for the clear purpose of emphasizing the fact that the late Justice CHANDLER was always a rugged man, a man among men who saw the right on every occasion, and fulfilled his purpose.

I knew Justice CHANDLER as an able trial lawyer who distinguished himself in many important trials throughout the State. Perhaps he may have been best known for his active and guiding hand in the infringement case between the Parker Rust Proof Company and the Ford Motor Company. But above all, I like to speak of him as a general practitioner, who specialized in no field, but was successful in every branch of his chosen profession. He successfully defended many important criminal cases. But beyond his ability, I like to realize that he was so tru and loyal to his client. He was as loyal and worked as hard for a client without the ability to pay a fair fee, as for a client with money. If he undertook a task, he gave it his untiring effort and saw it through to the end.

Justice CHANDLER loved his friends and associates. Even after he entered upon his duties as a Justice of this Court where we are now assembled, he always seemed to find the time and the opportunity to attend the meetings of the Lenawee County bar, and he was always so happy to be with his earlier friends, and he had attended the last meeting of his local bar association held before his death. He was always so kind and considerate of the younger men, and he endeared himself to the younger men who had come into our profession and become members of our bar after he had become a member of our Supreme Court. And although these younger men had never known him in the active practice of the law, they learned to honor and respect him because of his kindness and cordiality towards them. There never can be a law partnership, the members of which would be more friendly to young men than were Justice CHANDLER and his departed partner, the late Justice FELLOWS. They both gave me every possible kindly help and advice when I was a young man starting in my chosen profession, and those memories will go with me to my grave.

In the passing of Justice CHANDLER the city of Hudson lost a civic-minded citizen, and the entire State of Michigan lost a distinguished citizen. The bar has lost an able, a staunch and respected member. May his memory continue with us forever.

Chief Justice BUSHNELL: Mr. Charles L. Robertson, Commissioner of the State Bar for the second District will now speak.

 Mr. CHARLES L. ROBERTSON: Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Supreme Court, the State Bar of Michigan, and friends:

BERT D. CHANDLER was a friend of the young lawyer, ever ready to give him counsel and advice. His many years of practice before the bar endeared him to all.

A belief in the freedom, which should be accorded to all under the law, led him to champion the cause of those who were being oppressed and whose rights were being infringed by public authorities and to maintain and defend the rights of those who sought his services and counsel.

The belief that every lawyer should be interested in the political activities of the nation was one of his outstanding qualifications. He brought to this Court a wealth of experience gained by his contact with people in all walks of life and an understanding of human nature that could be gained in no other way.

In the years to come, his character, achievements and ability as a practitioner and a judge will be an outstanding example of what any lawyer may, by application to, and faithful performance of, his duties, bring to his fellow man.

Chief Justice BUSHNELL: We are fortunate to have with us this afternoon a former associate of ours, now United States District Judge for the Western District of Michigan, the Hon. RAYMOND W. STARR.

 Judge RAYMOND W. STARR: Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court, members of the State Bar of Michigan, ladies and gentlemen:

I consider it an honor to be accorded the privilege of speaking at this memorial service for my friend and my associate on this Court, Justice BERT D. CHANDLER.

In the fullness of time, as it must to every man, death came to Justice CHANDLER. We are reverently gathered here today in memorial services to express our tribute to his accomplishments and our gratefulness for his friendship.

I knew Justice CHANDLER for more than 20 years. I knew him as a friend, as a practicing attorney, and as an adversary in litigation. I was associated with him on this Court and had close contact with him in Court chambers and Court conferences.

Deprived by circumstances in his early years of the privilege of an extended formal education, Justice CHANDLER nevertheless became an educated man in the full and inclusive sense of that term. Through intensive reading he was well grounded in history, particularly in the history of our State, which he loved. He once said to me, “I cannot understand how anyone who knows the history and romance of Michigan and who has experienced all that it offers, could wish to live elsewhere.” Justice CHANDLER was also well read in the biographies and lives of those who have been foremost in the adventure of developing the government and. the industries of our country.

It has been said that one is educated when he has learned to live with his fellow men. From broad experience Justice CHANDLER understood the realities of human nature, human experiences, and everyday living. He understood the strengths and the frailties of mankind, and he had learned compassion for his fellow men and sympathy for the misguided and unfortunate. It may logically be said that he was, in the fullest sense, an educated man.

Justice CHANDLER was always kind, courteous, and charitable in his relations with friends and with members of the bar. He seldom, if ever, flared into regrettable expressions of animosity and criticism of those with whom he disagreed. He was ever calm and poised. He spoke with deliberation. He used humor in place of accusation and a smile in place of a verbal thrust. He loved his fellow men. All in all, he was a kindly man in a world where there are far too few kindly men.

His unswerving moral honesty and his loyalty marked Justice CHANDLER as one who merited the faith, the trust, and the commendation of his friends, and of those associated with him on the bench and at the bar. As a practicing lawyer be vigorously and courageously espoused the cause of his clients. On the bench he sat with calmness, poise, and dignity, and his personality was ever felt. He wrote plainly and logically, and his opinions, marked by simplicity and clarity of expression, forcibly indicated his reverence for right and justice.

By his integrity, his human qualities, and his accomplishments as a lawyer and as a judge, Justice CHANDLER will ever exert an influence upon the lives of all who knew him. Who is there that, in the span of years yet allotted to him, will ever forget the personality and spirit of Justice CHANDLER and all that he exemplified by his life and his work? In this period of civilization when the nations of the earth are in conflict with their ideologies of government and the rights of individuals, the life and work of Justice CHANDLER stand out as an example of what can be accomplished by one in this country of opportunity for all.

It may well be said: Justice CHANDLER, you carried high the torch of integrity; your life expressed the finest of human qualities; may we live as kindly and as unselfishly and with the same dignity. We respected you as a lawyer and as a judge, and we loved you as a loyal friend.

May I quote again the words of Justice CHANDLER at the memorial service for his friend and associate, the late Justice WIEST:
“Farewell, dear voyageur.
Thy work is done— now may peace rest with thee
Thy kindly thoughts and deeds— they will live on.
This is not death— ‘ tis immortality!”

As in memory I recall Justice CHANDLER, Justice WIEST, Justice POTTER, Justice FEAD, and other friends who have left us, I think of the words of Eugene Field—
“Sometimes, with twilight ‘ round me,
I see, or seem to see,
A distant shore where friends of yore,
Linger and watch for me.
Sometimes I’ve heered ‘em callin’ !
So tender-like and low
That it almost seemed like a dream
I dreamed,
Or an echo of long ago.”

Chief Justice BUSHNELL: Does anyone have anything to add to what has already been said?

Mr. WILLIAM L. HERMES: Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices: I didn’t expect to say a word in regard to our late friend, but I happen to be a schoolmate of his, so to speak, before he ever thought of entering the profession of law. I think he was born in the same year I was born in. I knew him well, and I knew Judge FELLOWS very well— and I couldn’t refrain from getting onto my feet and saying just a word, knowing him for 60 years, and even more— 65, that God have mercy on his soul.

Chief Justice BUSHNELL: Speaking for each of us, I thank those who have come here to do honor to Mr. Justice CHANDLER, and especially Mr. Paul W. Chase, of the Hillsdale bar, for arranging this tribute.

Justice CHANDLER’S lifelong devotion to the law had its culmination in six happy years of service to his beloved State. He brought to this place an abiding conviction in the ultimate triumph of right over wrong–and a deep devotion to the judicial process. This conviction was rooted and nourished in the soil hallowed by almost a lifetime of association with one of Michigan’s great judicial officers, his mentor, law partner and friend, the late GRANT FELLOWS.

The remarks made by the then lawyer BERT D. CHANDLER on an occasion such as this when the bench and bar paused to honor Mr. Justice FELLOWS, recorded in Volume 248 of our reports, indicate the depth of Justice CHANDLER’s devotion to this Court, of which he also later became an honored member.

As was said in another place of another judge: “Quiet, gentle, and reserved, he walked steadily along the path of reason seeking ever the goal of truth and justice.”

The jurisprudence of Michigan, enriched by a FELLOWS, has been adorned by a CHANDLER – and we are all better servants of the law because of his example.

In token of our respect for our late friend and associate— and because of his contribution to the State, the remarks made here today will be spread on the records of the Court, and we will now stand adjourned in order to do him silent honor.