Daniel Roy Greenfeld

Daniel Roy Greenfeld

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Memorial Mass for my Uncle

This was originally posted on blogger here.

Yesterday I went with my father to a memorial mass at Georgetown University in order to pick up my Uncle Alex's ashes (he'll be interned in Arlington Cemetary in June in a funeral done in the traditional Jewish manner). My uncle had his body used in anatomy classes for medical students. My uncle was very much a teacher and wanted to keep teaching even when his life ended.

I barely knew my uncle. By the time I could understand what he did for a living, I was the black sheep of the family. By the time I repaired my family relationships, I was getting married and had a kid. I'm still not good at doing the whole family (or friend) thing, so I never talked with him or spent much time with him until he died.

So today I asked my Dad a bunch of questions about my Uncle Alex. He was appointed the Delaware US Attorney by JFK. He worked for the New York Times as a libel attorney and checked their sources. He worked for US News and World Report as the same job. He taught law at Duke and Columbia and UMCP. He also consulted to authors for non-fiction books to protect them from possible litigation.

During my uncle's tenure at both news sources, neither paper was in trouble for slander or libel issues. Considering the issues caused by the Jayson Blair scandal of 2003 and the recent questionable and near sourceless article about John McCain, my guess is that the NYT could use a principled resource like my Uncle Alex right about now. When even McCain's opposition camp (Barack's team) calls foul, you wonder where the NYT has gone. Maybe to the same level as the Enquirer?

In any case, I realized I share a few traits with my late Uncle Alex. When I do a white paper or any kind of research I am fanatical about correct sourcing and dead-on accuracy. I wish I was like that in the rest of my life, this insistence on truth, but I'll take whatever positive attribute I can find.


Tags: politics media family obituary legacy-dannygreenfeld