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Talbot 'Sandy' D'Alemberte, Giant Of The Legal Community, Remembered As Eternal Optimist And Dreamer

Ryan Dailey

Friends and family of the late Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte gathered at Ruby Diamond concert hall Wednesday for his memorial service. D’Alemberte is remembered for his professional life as a giant of the legal community, but also as an eternal optimist and dreamer.

Florida State University president John Thrasher’s relationship with D’Alemberte goes back more than 40 years.

“The consummate southern gentleman, Sandy was unfailingly polite, always wore a smile, was genuinely interested in others, with his soft voice and gentle demeanor,” Thrasher said of his friend.

Thrasher adds D’Alemberte, who also headed the university, led a professional life that is second to none.

“He was an academic, he was a statesman, he was a brilliant lawyer, and an international champion of human rights,” Thrasher said. “He served as president of Florida State University, dean of our College of Law, president of the American Bar Association, and a member of the House of Representatives.”

But it was D’Alemberte’s warm personality that touched so many, accounting for the hundreds in attendance at his memorial. His widow, Patsy Palmer, was emotional as she remembered her late husband.

“What we must not do is let Sandy’s dreams die with him. If we each dared to dream one dream, and do something about it, if we kept our eyes on the dream and not on the obstacles, and if we pursued it with wholehearted joy – then the essence of this splendid man might live on and on,” Palmer said.

Palmer recounted letters she received from those whose lives D’Alemberte touched:

“One of Sandy’s former students, a young lawyer whom he had represented in all three branches of Florida state government, won his first appellate victory on the day Sandy died. It means a 17-year-old girl will not go to jail. The lawyer wrote to me: “‘I represented her pro bono, as professor D’Alemberte did for me.’”

Though D’Alemberte lived through significant chronic pain, related to a motorcycle accident that happened decades ago, Palmer says he was determined to live life to the fullest.

“So Sandy kept skiing, he played racquetball and squash, he stood for hours on graduation stages, he took me walking on every continent, and he proudly stood for his last oral argument, barely three months ago,” Palmer said.

D’Alemberte’s two children, Gabrielle and Joshua D’Alemberte, also remembered their father during the service.

“People like to compare him to Atticus Finch. But Atticus Finch should wish that he was half the man that my dad was,” Joshua D’Alemberte said in closing his remarks.

D’Alemberte died last month at 85 years old.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.