Deceased June 21, 2021

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In Memory

Gordon Doerfer was a scientist and a lawyer, always faithful to science and the law. He never coined a fancy phrase, never worried about appearances and never insisted on winning an argument. Yet he was the most successful debater, the most convincing advocate and the most cogent reasoner.

Gordie had a twinkle in his eye that let you know that there was something humorous going on to which he was attuned but of which he suspected you were unaware. Duff was pre-med at Amherst but found time to participate fully in college life. He played the bassoon (the bassoon!) as well as poker and bridge. He went to Harvard Law. He was an accomplished lawyer with two distinguished Boston firms and became a prominent and effective judge, both on the trial court and ultimately on the state appellate court. In his later years, he was a much-sought mediator.

Gordie was blessed with the companionship of his loving and supportive wife, Priscilla; his four children; and his two grandchildren. Their annual Christmas parties were the highlight of the season.

He and his first wife, Jane, daringly moved into a burned-out townhouse in Boston’s Back Bay and were instrumental in the transformation of the neighborhood.

Gordon spent his last years in convalescence, always managing with dignity and common sense, nurtured by Priscilla and the children. He welcomed my teasing him as “Lazarus” after rising from his “death bed” to perform the wedding of his son, Byron, now an attorney in his father’s footsteps.

Teddy Baird used to say, “If we could be anybody we’d want to be, we’d all be fine people. Fine people. But we can’t.”

The professor, however correct about the rest of us, was wrong about Gordon Doerfer. He was as fine as people get to be.

Gil Shasha ’61