Deceased September 22, 2022
What can you say about a guy who graduated double summa cum laude while also being one of the best beer pong players in the history of the game? We lost Kurt on September 22 following an accident in his home.
Kurt is remembered by his friends and family as a brilliant thinker who dedicated his life to helping the underdog. After graduating from Amherst summa cum laude in both Political Science and Sociology, he earned a Master’s degree from Princeton and a JD degree with honors from the University of Texas Law School, where he served as Executive Editor of the Texas Law Review. Following a clerkship with Judge Barefoot Sanders, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas (where he met wife-to-be Claire), Kurt entered private practice.
Throughout his career, Kurt applied his substantial energy and intellect to the causes of justice. He served on the Board of the Texas chapter of the ACLU for ten years, five as Chair, and he argued many cases on behalf of those whose civil liberties were in jeopardy. In a case of first impression, he successfully defended the Constitutional free speech rights of public school first-graders. He served on the board of the Dallas CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates), organizing fundraisers involving local judges. President Obama’s Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security appointed Kurt chair of a committee of experts charged with investigating conditions at Federal detention centers housing asylum seekers and advising on how they might be improved.
Beyond his commitment to justice, Kurt had three driving passions in his life: dogs, food, and music. He delighted in his relationship with his many beloved Labrador retrievers (most named after equally-beloved musicians and all sporting Amherst purple collars) and was happiest standing on the lakeshore tirelessly throwing tennis balls for them to gleefully retrieve. Kurt loved to prepare elaborate meals for family and friends to such an extent that, when undertaking a kitchen renovation, he and Claire installed two dishwashers. On a “good day,” he’d have to run them three or four times. Kurt’s record and CD catalog contained virtually every volume (both authorized and bootlegged) that Bruce Springsteen and the Grateful Dead have ever produced, as well as countless others.
Kurt was a steadfast supporter of Amherst (which he called “the best college on the planet”) and a dedicated brother of DKE. To this day, whenever Steely Dan’s “Reeling in the Years” comes on the radio, the years dissolve and Kurt’s face appears to me across the beer pong table, reveling in the opening chords, the beer, and an inevitable victory.
Peter Friedrichs ’79 and J. P. Dunn ’79