Miami Dade County Community Forum

Monday, February 1, 2010

Eulogy for Dan Paul

Dan Paul was always a friend to the Urban Environment League. When we fought the American Airlines Arena on City owned land, he was also fighting the good fight. He advised us on many issues and came to some of our events. We decided to post his Eulogy, written by John R. Harrison, in his honor:

DAN PAUL, Attorney. DAN PAUL, Activist. DAN PAUL, Friend.

Gardner Cowles introduced Dan Paul to me saying, “ I want you to meet my personal lawyer, Dan Paul. He’s the smartest man you’ll ever know.” Mr. Cowles was right. My wife and I rank Dan Paul’s brilliance right up there with Larry Summers in no particular order.

Seated at the large round table at Sunday lunch in the Cowles Indian Creek house were Jack Knight, Jack Howard, Kay Graham, Paul Miller, Norman Chandler and Dan Paul along with Mr. Cowles, my wife and me. For several hours Dan’s piercing, provocative but always respectful questions electrified the room full of media moguls. Moving into the living room for coffee Mr. Cowles said to me in a whisper, “What did I tell ‘ya?”

Dan Paul, Attorney, represented the elite of the newspaper world – New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, International Herald Tribune, et al. Dan Paul, attorney, before the United States Supreme Court successfully overturned the Florida Supreme Court ruling on the “right of reply” statute. “Right of reply”? Of course a politician has the “right of reply” to a newspaper’s criticism. Sounds only fair. But, not to Dan Paul. In a brilliant brief, redolent with Harvard expository writing, Dan persuaded the Supreme Court that “if you can’t tell a newspaper what not to print, then you can’t tell them what to print” or you erode the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment. It’s a masterpiece. I recommend it to you written with the majestic cadence of Gibbons, the power of Macauley, the elegance of Edmund Burke. It is a case made with brevity, clarity and prickly good sense.

Dan Paul, Activist. He was the attorney for the National Audubon Society that successfully prevented building the jetport in the Everglades. He was the attorney who successfully reapportioned the state of Florida to give equitable distribution of the legislative and congressional seats to urban areas. The so-called rural “Pork Chop Gang” who ruled Florida’s treasury for decades met their nemesis in a short, distinguished Harvard man…of course wearing a bow tie. He successfully obtained a 50-foot setback for buildings along the Florida waterfront. He was, in the words of Miami mayor, Maurice Ferre, “the conscience of the community”. His proactive life served to remind us of the simple pleasures and inalienable rights of a vanishing Florida. Some of the same values of Harvard’s Dan Paul Professorship.

Dan Paul, Friend. For two decades my wife and I travelled the world with Dan Paul. Jack Bates – Dan’s lifetime partner, my wife and I reveled in Dan Paul metaphors: “ subtle as cellophane”, “with the impact of a rose petal falling in the Grand Canyon.” Dan Paul took my three sons and me to the Super Bowl to sit in the owner’s box with Joe Robie, his client. Shortly before the half the stadium announcer said The Supremes were performing at halftime. Sotto voce, Dan asked my son, “What are the Supremes?” Later Mr. Robie turned and smilingly asked Dan, “Danny, how do you score in football?” ……long pause…we held our breath, “You kick the ball into the net,” the former Harvard crew cox confidently answered.

Oh yes, this singular instrument for the common good in Florida, lit by radiant promise, had his frailties. But, is there one among us who doesn’t?

So, Dan, friends and family today…
Cherish the lamp that lit your life shining upon the eternal verities of merit, loyalty and intellect. We wish you well as you begin your long journey accompanied by the Gregorian Chants of the Benedictine monks and the words of the Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy.
As the monks sing

“Blessed the Man who stands the proof, because once he is tested he will receive the crown of life”
the poet says
“When you start on your journey to Ithaka, then pray that road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge..,
That the summer mornings are many, that you will enter ports seen for the first time with such pleasure, with such joy!
Always keep Ithaka fixed in your mind. To arrive there is your ultimate goal. But do not hurry the voyage at all. It is better to let it last for long years…..”

Thank you for the privilege of letting me speak to you of Dan Paul today.

Written by John R. Harrison, Retired Vice President of The New York Times Company & Pulitzer Prize Winner – In honor and memoriam of Dan Paul. Presented at Dan Paul’s funeral service at The Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami, Florida on Thursday January 28, 2010.

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