Remembering Mr. Christopher
The passing of former United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher, O'Melveny & Myers Senior Partner and former Chairman, on March 18, 2011 was a profound loss for our firm and an even greater one for our nation. The news has prompted an outpouring of sorrow, but also of many fond remembrances and testaments to his remarkable legacy.
Michelle and I were saddened to hear that Warren Christopher has passed away. Deeply dedicated to serving his country, Warren's career ranged from the naval reserve in World War II to a clerkship at the Supreme Court to the practice of law and politics in California and Washington. And as President Clinton's Secretary of State, he was a resolute pursuer of peace, leading negotiations with regard to the Middle East and the Balkans, including the Dayton Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia.
Warren Christopher was a skillful diplomat, a steadfast public servant, and a faithful American. We send our thoughts and prayers to his wife, Marie, and their children.
-- Barack Obama, President of the United States
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Chris had the lowest ratio of ego to accomplishment of any public servant I’ve ever worked with. That made him easy to underestimate, but all Americans should be grateful that, along with great ability, he possessed the stamina and the steel to accomplish things that were truly extraordinary.
He headed my Vice-Presidential search committee and recommended Al Gore. As the leader of my presidential transition team, he oversaw the creation of the talented, dedicated, and diverse team who, along with Vice President Gore, were crucial to the prosperity and peace America enjoyed in the nineties. As our first post-Cold War Secretary of State, he faithfully and effectively advanced America’s interests and values: ending the war in Bosnia and making the Dayton Agreement a reality; moving the Middle East peace process forward; improving security and reducing the nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula; supporting democracy and development in and security cooperation with Russia; expanding NATO; building new networks of cooperation with the leaders of the Americas and those of the Asia-Pacific region; increasing our support for African development and working to unify our diplomatic, military and economic strategies to seize the opportunities and meet the challenges of the post-Cold War world, from terrorism to proliferation of dangerous weapons, to economic despair and environmental destruction.
My thoughts and prayers are with Marie, his children and grandchildren. I was honored by his service, and enriched by his friendship. I will miss him.
-- Bill Clinton, Former US President
Warren Christopher was one of the great statesmen of our era. His quiet, consistently thoughtful demeanor belied a fierce commitment to principle and a brilliant mind. Time and again, his wisdom and skillful diplomacy was invaluable in the conduct of America’s foreign policy.
Though many will properly focus on his outstanding service as Secretary of State, it is important to also remember and acknowledge his formidable contributions earlier in his career, which continue as a living legacy to shape the nature of American foreign policy.
As Deputy Secretary of State in the Carter Administration, Christopher was in charge of the process by which human rights were developed as a pillar of our working diplomacy. He methodically reviewed every element of American diplomatic practice, and by the time he was finished, human rights were welded, bolted and wedged into the core: where they remain to this day.
This was the basis on which the Clinton/Gore administration concluded that ethnic cleansing in Bosnia was a national security concern, worthy of American engagement. Even now, it is the basis of the ongoing shift in American policy for the Middle East, to reflect the reality that what the people of that region want is not religious warfare, but their civil liberties.
And as President Obama continues his visit to the democracies of Latin America, it would be good to remember that starting with Warren Christopher, American diplomacy began to work to help the peoples of that continent to push dictators off the stage.
Sometimes, in order to find the real sources of heroic change in history, one should look to the life-work of dedicated, quiet, and supremely skillful public servants, who are prepared to sacrifice personal gain and ease for the sake not only of our country's interests, but also its principles. Warren Christopher is an exemplar of such service.
Chris was an invaluable adviser and a trusted friend. His passing is a deep personal loss to his family and all who knew him, and a great loss for the nation and the world community.
-- Al Gore, Former US Vice President
I was deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and predecessor Warren Christopher. The longer I spend in this job, the deeper my appreciation grows for the giants who came before. Warren was a diplomat’s diplomat – talented, dedicated and exceptionally wise. … In addition to being a great statesman, Warren was also a dear friend. I relied on his advice and experience over many years. Today my thoughts and prayers are with Warren’s beloved wife Marie, their four children, and the entire Christopher family.
-- Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State
Betsy and I extend our deepest condolences to the family of Warren Christopher, a true statesman who was dedicated to making the world a safer place and the United States a stronger nation. He was a skilled diplomat and a tireless advocate for peace and freedom, and will be remembered for the integral role he played in bringing peace to Bosnia and negotiating the release of American hostages in Iran.
On behalf of all North Dakotans, we offer our heartfelt gratitude for Warren Christopher’s distinguished service. His accomplishments will remain a source of pride for North Dakota.
-- Jack Dalrymple, Govenor of North Dakota
Warren Christopher was one of the great statesmen of our era. Sometimes, in order to find the real sources of heroic change in history, one should look to the life-work of dedicated, quiet, and supremely skillful public servants, who are prepared to sacrifice personal gain and ease for the sake not only of our country's interests, but also its principles. Warren Christopher is an exemplar of such service.
-- Al Gore, Former US Vice President
Warren Christopher was the consummate public servant and a proud patriot. Both at home and abroad, he was a skilled tactician on behalf of American interests. He was known to so many of us in Congress for being fair and loyal, honest and diplomatic, intellectual and practical. From Panama, to China, to the Middle East and the Balkans, accomplishments on behalf of progress and peace have his fingerprints on them. I hope it is a comfort to Warren’s wife, Marie, his children, and his grandchildren that so many grieve their loss and are praying for them in this sad time.
-- Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader of the US House of Representatives
With the death of Warren Christopher, America has lost a dedicated public servant, a thoughtful diplomat, and, perhaps most importantly, a fine gentleman whose unwavering integrity should be a model for all who enter public service. His work for three US presidents was marked by significant achievement, particularly his work as Secretary of State for President Clinton. Of course, Chris and I had a unique relationship. We opposed one another as the heads of the legal teams that fought the 2000 presidential election recount battle in Florida. Eight years later, we worked together as co-chairmen of the National War Powers Commission. Regardless of whether he was an adversary or an ally, Warren Christopher always exhibited utmost integrity, sincere courtliness and a noble nature. His character was special and exemplary in the dog-eat-dog world of politics. My wife, Susan, and I send our deepest sympathy to Marie Christopher and the entire Christopher family.
-- James A. Baker, III, Former US Secretary of State; Co-Chair (with Mr. Christopher) of the National War Powers Commission
Throughout a long and remarkable career of public service Secretary Christopher acted out of a profound sense of decency and honor, qualities that he sought diligently to nurture in others.
-- Madeleine Albright, Former US Secretary of State
My wife, Alma, and I are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague, Warren Christopher, the 63rd Secretary of State. Chris was a dedicated public servant who epitomized dignity, integrity and total selflessness. Never seeking the limelight or applause, Chris accomplished his challenging missions with determination and a single focus on getting the job done. The State of California and the nation have benefited greatly from his service. He will always be remembered with fondness, respect and the hope that America will continue to produce such gentle giants. Alma and I offer our deepest condolences to his wife, Marie, and to his family.
-- Colin L. Powell, Former US Secretary of State; General, USA (Retired)
I am deeply saddened by the recent passing of my colleague Warren Christopher. Chris was the consummate public servant -- honest, dedicated and with a deep love of this great country. I was grateful to have known him and to have called him my friend. He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Christopher family.
-- Condoleezza Rice, Former US Secretary of State; Former US National Security Advisor
What a sad day for all Americans, but particularly the firm. I remember your sharing his office with me during my first long confirmation and although I never saw him at the firm, his imprint was clearly felt.
-- Fred Hochberg, Chairman and President, US Export-Import Bank
Warren Christopher's role in the hostage crisis during the Carter Administration and his steady, patient and methodical style of diplomacy was certainly not flashy but it was usually successful in the end. He was one of the most disciplined bosses I have ever had. He prepared for Sunday talk shows more rigorously than any person I have ever known– ask [Tom] Donilon how many Saturdays we spent in Foggy Bottom preparing for every conceivable question. He and I had the same birthday and always had a nice phone conversation on that day and my youngest child is named "Chris" in his honor.
If you collect any stories about him, my favorite is this: On the way back to the US from Middle East peace process trips, the Secretary of State's plane always refuels at Shannon in Ireland and the custom is for the staff and press to deplane and have an Irish Coffee – one time we finally convinced Secretary Christopher to partake; quite an achievement because he was usually working in his cabin all the way home. He stepped up to the bar and ordered his Irish Coffee with careful instructions to the barkeep to "make it with decaf coffee and please hold the whiskey"... thus birthing the drink at Shannon still called "the Christopher."
-- Mike McCurry, Former White House Press Secretary; Former Spokesman for the US Department of State
We have lost a great statesman and a public servant. I recall vividly a heated discussion at the UN about the payment of US dues. Warren Christopher, having listened patiently, took the floor and offered advice. Referring to the Congress he said simply: "You cannot shame them into paying, you need to make a stronger case " I don't know anyone else who gives sound advice with such brevity.
-- Kofi A. Annan, Former United Nations Secretary-General
Twice in his long and distinguished career, Warren Christopher brought a unique combination of personal integrity, dedication, stamina, and sound judgment to the stewardship of American foreign policy at the State Department—first in the late 1970s and early 80s, then in the 1990s. Both were tumultuous periods, requiring him to grapple with some of the toughest issue of our time: the Middle East peace process, the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, genocide in the Balkans, and nuclear proliferation.
Chris was a proud man with much to be proud of. But to a degree unusual in public life, he worked in quiet ways, without raising his voice and without much concern for raising his profile.
In the conduct of arduous negotiations with foreign leaders and in vexing deliberations within the US government, he was, to a rare degree, a superb listener. He picked up on the subtleties of what he was hearing in a way that allowed him to be all the more imaginative and effective in his side of the conversation.
For those of us who worked for and with him, he was the most insightful and caring of mentors and the most loyal of friends.
-- Strobe Talbott, Former Deputy US Secretary of State; President, The Brookings Institution
The death of Warren Christopher is a deep loss for California and for our nation. Warren was the epitome of a true public servant, an esteemed leader who possessed grace, intellect and wit. His passion for serving his country and his achievements in public service were gifts to all of us. This is also a personal loss and I will miss his cherished friendship and counsel.
-- Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California
I was so saddened to hear about Warren Christopher's passing. It is a great loss to the firm, and I wanted to send my sympathies. Chris has been an important figure in my life: I interviewed with him the first day I came to O'Melveny, and he graciously spoke at my investiture 16 years later. He was an amazing man, and it was an honor to have known him, even slightly.
-- The Honorable Sandra Ikuta, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; O'Melveny alumna
Los Angeles and the nation [have] lost a true statesman. For over a half century, Warren Christopher served in the highest levels of government and politics, playing a leading role in some of our country's most challenging diplomatic moments, and tirelessly seeking peace among the world's people. Secretary Christopher was not only a distinguished and humble servant of his country, he was a civic advocate who helped heal our city and achieve harmony between the Los Angeles Police Department and the communities it serves and protects. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Marie, their children, and the entire Christopher family during this difficult time.
-- Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles
Warren Christopher set the city on a path toward healing wounds that had festered for generations. That work continues today, but without his leadership on the commission, without his position as a significant legal and moral counterweight to Chief Daryl Gates, we would not have seen the progress that is now universally acknowledged.
-- Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Supervisor
We are all sorry to hear about Secretary Christopher. Your firm and the nation lost a great man.
-- Richard Cullen, Chairman of McGuire Woods LLP; Former Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia; Former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
The United States mourns the passing of a gifted diplomat and a dedicated public servant. Secretary Christopher brought a quiet and incredibly determined resolve to his tenure as Secretary of State and worked tirelessly to bring peace to the troubled regions of the world. His diplomatic accomplishments are legion: he led the effort to bring peace to the Balkans in that region’s turbulent 1990s, he helped to establish and maintain diplomatic relations with China, he oversaw the expansion of NATO, worked tirelessly for peace in the Middle East and championed human rights around the world. A quiet individual, who often preferred to apply his intellect and efforts away from the limelight, Secretary Christopher also spearheaded the negotiations to free the U.S. hostages in Iran and worked on numerous challenges that helped secure America’s safety and make the world a better place. The U.S. Mission in Tallinn extends its condolences to Secretary Christopher’s family and friends and wishes that they find solace in his timeless contributions as a diplomat, a lawyer, and a gentleman.
-- William O'Connor, Embassy of the United States, Tallinn, Estonia
We have lost a great voice for human rights and decency that spoke to us always in dignified, intelligent, measured, and eloquent tones. Among so many things, Warren Christopher's death reminds us that 20 years have passed since the Christopher Commission, created by Mayor Tom Bradley on the heels of the Rodney King incident, issued its report. In addition to prompting a sweeping overhaul of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Report has become the essence of police best practice and the starting point for all serious discussions of police reform. Of all the different ways in which he made the world a better place, Warren Christopher’s work in helping to bring fairness, effectiveness, and proportionality to policing in America will be among his most enduring legacies.
-- John Spiegel, former General Counsel to the Christopher Commission; Merrick Bobb, former Deputy General Counsel to the Christopher Commission
With a legal career spanning 60 years, Christopher leaves a great legacy of achievement to his law firm, his city and his nation. Long regarded as a living legend in legal circles for his tireless and protean work, often behind the scenes, for resolution and for progress, Christopher chose to describe himself as a quiet family man. He will be remembered by those who knew him, and many who did not, as a quintessential public servant.
-- Bruce Riordan, Former Federal Prosecutor and Director of Anti-Gang Operations for the L.A. City Attorney’s Office
It was with great sorrow that we received the news of Pacific Council Director and Co-Chair Emeritus Warren Christopher’s passing last Friday evening, March 18, 2011. Each of us has his or her own memories of this extraordinary gentleman, public servant, family man, attorney, and friend of the Pacific Council on International Policy. Every interaction with Chris was both a joy and a learning experience. His sage wisdom, humanity, compassion, consideration for others, intelligence, extraordinary judgment, and practicality served the country, the state of California, the city of Los Angeles, and the Pacific Council very well indeed.
Our 15th Anniversary Gala just two weeks ago highlighted to all of us that our organization owes its vitality and success to this remarkable individual. Keynote speaker Dr. Condoleezza Rice, a fellow former Secretary of State, noted to the assembled crowd that evening: "Chris is the epitome of a public servant. He has inspired many, many people, including me, to public service. And he continues to epitomize what it means to have done your part and then return to private life, but in returning to private life, bringing back all of that experience to better the community in which you live."
Upon hearing the news of Mr. Christopher's passing, Hon. Mel Levine, a longtime member of the Pacific Council Board, noted: “It is exceptionally sad. In addition to all that Chris stood for and accomplished as a public servant and leading lawyer, he was so devoted to the Pacific Council. I was regularly amazed at the depth of his commitment to the Council and his willingness to devote so much of his time, energy and credibility to ensuring both the success of the organization and attention to even the smallest, most routine, details of our work. What we saw of his quiet but determined, out of the spotlight, commitment to the Pacific Council was, from my perspective, one of the most remarkable examples of his lifelong commitment to excellence in all that he did.”
Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with Chris’s family at this time.
-- The Directors and Staff of the Pacific Council on International Policy
Our community owes much to Warren Christopher. After he urged Mayor Tom Bradley to appoint an independent commission to investigate police misconduct in the wake of the videotaped beating of Rodney King, he was made chair of what became known as the ‘Christopher Commission.’ Under his leadership, the Commission broadly examined the LAPD’s history of discrimination, harassment and violence, and decided to include that directed against gay people. Warren Christopher brought in more than 100 staff to work on the investigation, including some who were openly gay, such as current Ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner.
The Christopher Commission’s 228-page report documented virulently anti-gay sentiments of LAPD officers, such as mobile digital police car transmissions referring to crimes against gay people as ‘NHI, “meaning ‘no humans involved.” The Commission’s detailed examination of police records also proved false LAPD claims that anti-gay sting operations in Griffith Park were justified by frequent complaints.
When I and others pressed the Commission to hear testimony from current and former lesbian and gay officers, they agreed and took steps to protect those who were still in the closet. That testimony showed a widespread pattern of discrimination and harassment based on perceived sexual orientation against both LAPD employees and civilians.
The Christopher Commission’s report helped rid the LAPD of homophobic Police Chief Daryl Gates. In addition, while the LGBT community had complained about their treatment by the LAPD for years, having someone as respected as Warren Christopher endorse those complaints made a huge difference in efforts to bring about reforms within the LAPD.
I later met Warren Christopher when his law firm, O’Melveny & Myers, helped Lambda Legal represent a gay youth subjected to horrible harassment at his high school. Christopher had stood behind his firm (which was long considered a conservative institution) taking on that case, and he expressed great pride in the result we jointly obtained — establishing a constitutional right of lesbian and gay youth to be out at school as well as the largest pretrial settlement ever of a case of this nature.
With all Hillary Clinton has done for LGBT people as Secretary of State, it may be hard to fully appreciate what it meant to have one of her predecessors standing up for the rights of members of our community two decades ago. We should remember Warren Christopher for the many reforms he helped bring about. But, perhaps even more than that, our community should remember him for helping make tackling inequality based on sexual orientation a mainstream concern.
-- Jon Davidson, Legal Director of Lambda Legal
Please accept heartfelt sympathies on the death of Warren Christopher, to your entire firm.
Chris' death renders our communities the less — our legal community, our Los Angeles community, our State, our nation and the international community. Chris was one of those rare people whose greatness was not employed to make others feel insignificant. Not at all. Chris went out of his way to make other people feel better.
Chris' public service hardly needs my comment. An indefatigable Secretary of State, he was equally at home as the even-handed chair of the PCIP. He was accessible; calls were promptly returned. Even-handed and even-tempered, he seemed to treat everyone with equal dignity. A brilliant lawyer, a dedicated statesman, a strong political activist, he will be fondly and well remembered by his friends, his partners, his clients and his adversaries.
As Shakespeare said, this was a man.
With condolences to his family, his friends, his partners, his clients and his country but a sense that having known Chris was a special and God-given blessing for which I will always be grateful, I send fond regards.
-- Bruce Ramer, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Partner, Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Secretary Warren Christopher, a great American public servant and a wonderful member of the Los Angeles community. His leadership, dedication to justice, and generosity of spirit inspired us all, and will be sorely missed." It was at CCF that the Warren Christopher Scholarship Fund was established in 1992. Secretary Christopher was deeply committed to supporting these talented students, many of whom have overcome challenges in their pursuit of higher education, continued their education and completed a degree. The Warren Christopher Scholarship Fund will remain a lasting tribute to a modest but extraordinary man.
-- Antonia Hernandez, President and CEO of the California Community Foundation
The directors, trustees, and fellows of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy mourn the passing of the Honorable Warren Christopher.
A distinguished member of our board of advisors, he was a pillar of integrity and a consistent source of wise and sober counsel.
-- Martin J. Gross, President, Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Howard P. Berkowitz, Chairman, Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Robert Satloff, Executive Director, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
I'm so sorry for your loss. He was a truly great gentleman.
-- Andrea Mitchell, NBC News
I was the brand-new managing partner of Latham in 1988, and your deceased partner Warren Christopher was very kind to me. I feel the need to tell someone at O'Melveny how sad I am that he is gone. Chris was a brilliant and gentle soul who loved his law firm until the day he died, and cared as deeply about his country and community as any person I have known. We are all diminished.
-- Jack Walker, Retired Partner, Latham & Watkins
I literally don't know what to say. Chris was one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever known. He absolutely defined the word "gracious". I didn't have a lot of interactions with him, but each one was memorable. He was a truly extraordinary man. All across the nation and beyond, we mourn your and our loss.
-- Ron Beard, Partner, Zeughauser Group; Former Chair, Gibson Dunn
Condolences from all of us at WilmerHale for the loss of Chris. I know how important he was to you. I was thinking this morning of Carter's lineup: Cy Vance, Warren Christopher, Lloyd Cutler. There could certainly be no better examples of Jefferson's Citizen Lawyers than the three of them. Our best to all at OMM.
-- William Perlstein, Co-Managing Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
On behalf of my firm I am writing to offer our most sincere condolences on the passing of a great man and a great partner.
Chris was the torchbearer of the enduring values that many of us strive to live up to as lawyers day-in and day-out. Yet he was a man of such unswerving self-discipline that it seemed almost effortless. His presence sharpened the mind and commanded immediate respect: most certainly from the 26-year-old rookie lawyer who had a lunch with him in 1989 that I will never forget.
Calm, wise, and modest. Oh that more people’s epitaphs could be as simple and as unqualified as that.
May you and your partners continue to honor his memory in the way that he would have wished.
-- Charles Martin, Managing Partner, MacFarlanes (London); former O’Melveny associate
His influence was immense. From early in his career, he started building the experiences that made him not only the most important lawyer-stateman in the history of California but one of the most important and effective lawyer-statesman in the United States. Historically, because the center of our government is on the East Coast, most such lawyer-statesman have evolved from an East Coast practice -- Chris found a way to make it happen from a home base 3,000 miles away. Chris’s influence went way beyond the legal profession. Chris set the gold standard for integrity, competence and discretion. Those attributes prompted the city to turn first to him for so many of our most challenging problems from the Watts Riots to the reform of our policing and most recently to heading an advisory committee to assist our Mayor with his selection of Police Chief Beck. The same attributes prompted tow of our presidents to entrust him with many of our country’s most challenging problems. I was in Washington, DC when the riots of 1968 engulfed the city -- ten’s of us lawyers volunteered and worked the trenches but it was Chris, then deputy Attorney General, who was at the point and directed the legal response. He did the same in Detroit. For us in the legal profession, Chris set the example for fulfilling our trusteeship access to those who need it most, from community responsibility to mentoring younger lawyers and much more -- no one did it better. We will miss him greatly.
--Ron Olson, Partner, Munger, Tolles & Olson
On behalf of the Chapman University School of Law, I extend my deepest sympathies upon the loss to our nation, the Christopher family, and the law firm of O’Melveny and Myers, of former United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher. In his devotion to public service, he was first to volunteer: whether at the municipal level in Los Angeles, the challenges facing the State of California, or upon matters of national and international importance. Throughout, he upheld the rule of law, and brought honor to the profession that we teach and pursue.
Several members of our faculty were personally acquainted with Secretary Christopher, and have asked especially that our school note his passing with personal sadness and regret. To those sentiments, I add my own, having had the honor of coming to know Secretary Christopher when I was a member of the faculty of his alma mater. He was a tremendous friend of legal education, especially the inculcation of a sense of responsibility for others that all attorneys should have.
Above all, Secretary Christopher represented the best in the model of the private citizen called upon for public service, who, having performed the service, is content to retire again to the private world. He epitomized the service nature of the profession of attorney, both to individual clients, and to leaders in the public sector who sought his counsel and benefited from it. His self sacrifice extended as well to his willingness to step away from the private practice of law on several significant occasions in his life in order to accept the burdens of public office.
Chapman University School of Law mourns the passing of a great attorney, Californian, American, and citizen of the world.
-- Tom Campbell, Dean, Chapman University College of Law
News of the recent death of Warren Christopher prompted memories of a meeting I attended in 1987 — several years before Christopher was appointed Secretary of State by Bill Clinton. A major California utility had hired Christopher’s Los Angeles law firm to take its side in a regulatory proceeding with several billion dollars at risk. The utility’s lawyers agreed to a meeting to consider the potential for settlement negotiations, and the meeting took place in the firm’s L.A. office.
Upon arrival, we were ushered into a conference room where every seat was available – but for the one at the head of the table, neatly reserved by the placement of a pen and a blank pad of paper on the table in front of it. With everyone else in place, and after the passage of a couple of minutes beyond the scheduled meeting time, Mr. Christopher walked into the room. We all rose to greet him and he received us graciously. He was a slight man, who spoke in gentle tones. He was dressed in an expensive suit, with a handkerchief in the coat’s breast pocket.
The meeting did not officially belong to Mr. Christopher in any way, but he gently and politely steered the process from beginning to end. He had “taken the liberty” of preparing a “draft” agenda, about which no one thought to object. Although everyone had a chance to contribute to the conversation, it only touched on subjects he was offering for consideration. The meeting remained cordial at all times — despite bitter differences between the parties, and the enormous sums at stake – and ended with his departure, after everyone agreed that there was a basis for further negotiations.
It is hard to separate the influence of the man (his personality and demeanor) from the reputation. By the time that this meeting had occurred, Mr. Christopher was already famous for negotiating the release of 52 American hostages in Iran and receiving the Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian award. One way or another, everything fell into place at the meeting – just as he had planned it. And later, when others stepped in to negotiate a final deal with him, he delivered for his client an exceptionally favorable result.
-- Steven Weissman, Lecturer in Residence at Berkeley Law, Director of the Energy and Cleantech program, and Associate Director for Energy Law and Policy of the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.
I had the honor to work as a junior assistant to [Warren] Christopher during the first year of the Clinton administration, and came to admire him tremendously as a lawyer, statesman and mentor…I learned important lessons about the fickle nature of press coverage and the pressures of Washington politics in those first few months, and was constantly impressed by Christopher’s ability to remain focused on the job at hand and by his sheer energy and doggedness in shouldering the considerable burdens of the job. He was unfailingly gracious and impeccable in dress and manner, known for his bespoke suits and ever-present pocket squares. I remember warmly his meeting with my family when they took a tour of the State Department; my father was both shocked and thrilled that the Secretary of State would take the time to meet them. On another occasion, en route to Capitol Hill to testify, I was carrying the briefing books and sitting in the tiny “jump seat” of the Secretary’s limousine. As he was being briefed by Tom Donilon, the Secretary quietly leaned over and gently adjusted the collar of my suit jacket, which was askew. There was something quite charming in that small gesture. When I made my own transition from the diplomatic corps to the law, Christopher was supportive and encouraging of a career path with a foot in both law and diplomacy. He believed in balancing service to country, to the profession, and to the community, and he leaves an impressive legacy in each. His was a model of the life well lived. My deep condolences to his family.
-- Margaret (Peggy) McGuinness, Professor of Law, Associate Director, St. John’s Law School Center for International and Comparative Law
Someone here asked me yesterday what Chris was like. I gave the typical, public service, skills, disciplined and intelligent, consensus builder. And then I told a more personal incident that for me captures what kind of person he was. We were both in Washington DC for President Clinton’s invitation only Call to Action banquet – an occasion when Clinton was trying to galvanize the legal profession to do more pro bono legal work. I was there because of my association with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. Chris was there because, well, he was the former Secretary of State. He seemed just a little surprised to see me there among lots of other far more “important” people. But after the banquet he offered me a ride back to the hotel in his limousine. As I got out of the backseat on the right side, Chris also got out on the left side. That struck me as odd, since the doorman had opened my door, and it didn’t seem like even a courtly gentleman would feel the need to walk me to the hotel door. As I paused to see if he wanted to say something, he nodded good evening again, and then got in the front seat next to his African American driver. It was a telling gesture to me –a preference not to be “chauffeured around” that bespoke both humility and something more than an employer/employee relationship with his driver.
The next morning I got a call from his driver saying I had left my glasses in the car and he was going to bring them by the hotel for me. I was grateful because while I could function without them, it really was inconvenient not to be able to see clearly. Imagine my surprise when I came downstairs to the hotel door and found that Chris was in the car with the driver –again in the front seat --and was the one who stepped out of the car to hand me the glasses. My first thought was to be a little chagrined that the then head of the firm would see me as careless because I left my glasses in the car – I’ll never know if he did. But my more enduring thought has been how gracious such a prominent and busy man has to be to have his driver swing by and deliver the glasses on his way to wherever else he was going. Many —indeed I in his place— would have just undertaken to get them to me in Los Angeles, or tell me where I could come pick them up.
What amazes me is recognizing that it had little to nothing to do with me or the fact that I was his law partner – I think he would have done that for almost anyone he thought needed their glasses - including the driver himself. Two words that truly marked him – humble and gracious.
-- Cheryl Mason, Vice President, Litigation, HCA Healthcare; former O’Melveny partner
Yesterday marked one year ago since O'Melveny and Myers' 125th anniversary ceremony when Mr. Christopher kindly invited me to speak and I wished to send a thank you email to Mr. Christopher and all of you to express my gratitude for that unforgettable day. It was not long after that I learned of Mr. Christopher's passing and was very struck and saddened by this news. I would like to express to all of you how very sorry I am for his passing and hope that you are all well at this difficult time.
Mr. Christopher positively impacted the lives of so many and I am very honored that I can say I am one of those people. His generous scholarship allowed me to attend Brown, live a life I could only imagine, and make a better future for myself. I would not be where I am today if it were not for his kindness and willingness to reach out to me and give me the tools necessary to embark on a path to receiving a higher education. I feel I owe him so much for all he has generously given to me. I only hope that I will be able to live up to all he has done for me by using my education to pass on his generosity to the many people I will encounter throughout my life. I sincerely thank and will be forever grateful to Mr. Christopher and to all of you for everything you have done for me.
Please know I am thinking of all of you at this difficult time and know that you and Mr. Christopher's family are all in my thoughts and prayers.
-- Francesca Lee Zetar, 2006 Warren Christopher Scholar; Brown University Undergraduate, Class of 2012
I express to you my deepest condolences for the passing of Warren Christopher. I was very saddened to hear about his passing this weekend. When I first met Mr. Christopher in 2002, I was immediately struck by his extreme humility, a sense of humility that I believed to be almost unfitting for a man of his stature and achievement. In our first meeting and every meeting thereafter, he asked me questions and spoke with me with genuine interest and kindness, and let me know that I could contact him for any advice and help I may need. Over the years, through college and law school, he reinforced his sincerity, modesty, and kindness by personally emailing me and speaking with me on the phone. Along with professional and academic advice, he never failed to ask me about my family and personal life, to ensure that my life as a whole was going well. He was truly a decent and incredible person.
-- Elham Ardestani, 1999 Warren Christopher Scholar; J.D. Candidate (Class of 2011), UCLA School of Law
I heard of the tragic news of Mr. Christopher from an email I received from my sister. Disbelief and shock ran over me. I envisioned Mr. Christopher on a pedestal, like a super hero immune to mortal challenges.
Mr. Christopher and the WCS played an influential role well beyond the financial aid it provided me. During my senior year in high school I was allowed to intern at the OMM Los Angeles branch where I was privileged to meet Mr. Christopher outside the Scholarship setting. I felt honored. Then during my first year in college I was invited to represent the scholarship at the [O’Melveny] Partner’s Retreat. I still cherish this event and what it did for my family and me. Upon finishing my speech at the retreat Mr. Tobismen surprised me with a gift to fly my mother from Korea for my college graduation. My mother still brags about this nearly four years later.
All these events, which were possible only through the generosity of Mr. Christopher and the WCS molded me in a powerful way. I graduated from UCSD in 2007 with a degree in History and Spanish. I then took a year to volunteer in Cameroon. It was through the influence of the WCS that I had the courage to go all the way to West Africa. I then took flight to Seoul, S. Korea and worked as a translator and teacher for two years. Now, I am in Barcelona, Spain attending culinary school and pursuing my dreams here.
I would say for a mere 26-year-old I’ve experienced a great deal and was privileged to see so much. I am certain none of these opportunities would have opened its doors without the inspiration of Mr. Christopher. A seed of great determination and pride was planted in me when I became a Christopher scholar. It is the foundation to who I am today. Mr. Christopher, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. It is still a privilege and honor to be a Christopher Scholar. You will be dearly missed.
-- Jennifer Y. Lee, 2004 Warren Christopher Scholar; University of California, San Diego
What sad news. I just moved to South Korea to teach English at a university and won't be able to attend the service. I do remember how kind and interested Mr. Christopher and his family were during my award ceremony (more than 10 years ago). I also remember people saying he played a personal role in selecting students. The scholarship helped me to attend UCLA and see the world through the study abroad program Semester at Sea. It was this study abroad program which led to my present job, ESL teacher abroad. I have taught English in Japan, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and now South Korea. I hope his legacy will live on in the scholarship.
-- Monique Simpson, 1994 Warren Christopher Scholar; University of California, Los Angeles / Chatsworth High School 1997
Last Saturday morning, I awoke very much expecting the day to be like any other. Instead, my heart and mind grew heavy with the news of a great man's passing. As I confronted a flurry of thoughts and feelings within me, I instinctively awoke my mother knowing she needed to hear about this loss.
Among the many titles Warren Christopher is deserving of - diplomat, consummate public servant, lawyer-statesman - for my family and I, none was more fitting than that of friend. A friend to many students and their families who believed in the promise of an American education. But a promise that, had it not been for the aid of a wonderful gift that bore his name, could have slipped further out of reach. Year after year, at every Scholarship awards ceremony he attended and that I witnessed, his personal involvement in the program was profound and his commitment, unending.
For me, the scholarship did much more than ease a tremendous financial barrier to higher education. It allowed a hopeful kid whose parents came to this country with little in their pockets, the opportunity to dream. To dream about filling his mind with life's great lessons and about serving others in this world.
A few years ago, as I attended a small session on the Scholars program with Warren Christopher, I never forgot that during that whole morning he was probably the quietest person in the room. As great as his accomplishments and wisdom were, his humility and decency seemed even greater. His example as a humble "steward of an extraordinary public trust" is one of his greatest legacies to the scholars as we attempt to navigate that stream of history for ourselves with as much ability as he did.
My family and I are forever grateful to the firm of O'Melveny & Myers and to Mr. Christopher's family for allowing the light of his life to shine upon all of us. Indeed, he bestowed the scholars with a well of hope and confidence that will never run dry.
-- Alvaro Pacheco, Jr., 2000 Warren Christopher Scholar; University of California, Berkeley / University High School
I have been out of town for the past week and have just learned of Mr. Warren Christopher's memorial service. My heart reaches out to his family and friends. Mr. Warren Christopher has impacted countless lives and made invaluable contributions. As a Christopher Scholar, I attribute many of my successes directly to Mr. Warren Christopher and members of the Warren Christopher Scholarship Committee.
I am proud to have the honor of being a Warren Christopher Scholar and am grateful to hear that Mr. Christopher would like the Scholarship program to endure. Without this program, it is difficult to imagine where I [would] stand today. I am currently a senior at the University of California, Irvine and have received news of admittance to several graduate programs including USC, NYU, and UCLA. I plan to obtain a Masters degree in public administration and hope to make a positive impact in the field of public service with Mr. Christopher serving as one of my role models. He will always be remembered as a dedicated public servant who has shaped world history. The loss of Mr. Christopher is devastating, but his contributions and influences will continue to last forever.
Words cannot express how grateful I am for the time and efforts Mr. Christopher, his family, as well as the Scholarship Committee has dedicated to the program. Thank you.
--Cynthia Ear, 2005 Warren Christopher Scholar; University of California, Irvine / Chatsworth High School
We were pleased and honored to feature Mr. Christopher last year. Thank you so much for arranging it. My thoughts are with you during these difficult times for you.
-- Charles Crumpley, Editor, Los Angeles Business Journal
I heard today on the news of Mr. Christopher's passing. I am very saddened by the news. Deepest sympathies to his family and the firm for their loss. I have enormous respect for Mr. Christopher.
-- Jacki Casmero, former O'Melveny employee
I want to express my condolences on the passing of Warren Christopher. I was saddened to hear about it.
--Linda Taylor, O'Melveny Elementary School Faculty Member