On a trip to India, ten years or so ago, my wife and I encountered a young couple having breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Recognizing each other as fellow Americans, the conversation went as follows:
They: “Hello, there! Where are you from?”
Us: “We’re from St. Louis.”
They: (husband) “That’s a coincidence. I spend time in St. Louis. In fact, I graduated from Wash U. Law School.”
Us: (husband) “I used to teach at the Law School as an Adjunct Professor.”
They: (husband) “Then you must know my favorite Professor, David Becker!”
Us: (also with enthusiasm) “We do know David Becker! He is a long-time, personal friend!”
So, David, you can rest assured that you are known far and wide by so many and remembered so fondly by all.
Congratulations! No one deserves the honor you are receiving more than you.
Gene and Marlene Zafft
“What I remember about David was that when I first started teaching here at the age of 26, David gave generously of his time in mentoring me. My office happened to be next-door to his, so it was easy for me to seek him out for advice about teaching. I also remember in that first year, when I didn’t have to be visited by anyone on the tenured faculty, I asked David to visit me in an unofficial capacity, as a friend. What I still recall about that experience was that after he had seen me teach, I expected him to tell me all of the things I should have done. Instead, he started the conversation by asking what MY goals were in teaching the class. His aim was not to make me be like him, but to make me be the best teacher I could be on my own terms. What more could a young teacher ask from his mentor than that?”
Dan Keating, Faculty
I have been a member of several law faculties and observed quite a few others. But I’ve never seen the likes of David Becker. He not only loves law teaching, but he relates to students – countless students – personally and professionally to an incomparable extent. He cares about their lives, their careers, themselves. It almost seems as natural as breathing for him. Even so, such active interest takes unstinting time and effort.
I’m not an advocate of human cloning. But if it were possible, I’d say clone David. But I’ll settle for the wonderful impact he’s has on our law school and our students over so many decades.
To my mind, one measure of immortality is the effect one has on others. David is a champion entry in the immortality sweepstakes as his influence lives on in who knows how many of our students – way beyond twenty-one years and two lives in being.
It’s been a pleasure to be his colleague.
My one regret is my inability to be with him and you today.
Merton C. Bernstein, Coles Professor of Law Emeritus, Washington University School of Law