Never in Professor Becker’s Class

Law school has changed since I graduated in 1981.  As a professor at Fordham and NYU Schools of Law, I have had students walk in late, text and surf the internet during class.  To this day, my first reaction is always the same:  this would never have happened in Professor Becker’s class!


Debra Wolf, Class of 1981

Thank you, David

I recall the first day of Real Property class, “Mr. Goldstein, what is a tenement?” My immediate thought was –a place in which I never wanted to live. (Actually, a tenement was a form of real property in which I had no future interest.) My response at the time was something akin to “Duh?”  David moved on to the next victim of the Socratic method.

Over the years David’s role in my life transitioned from teacher to mentor. When my older son attended Wash. U as an undergraduate, David was there as an integral part of his support network–and host at Passover Sedars. He was also very persistent, but diplomatic in making sure that I let my son make up his own mind to go to law school. He did, and now we practice together.  Thank you David.

 Eugene Goldstein, J.D.  1970

Are We Happy?

I first met David in 1974 when my husband, Stuart, was a student of his. Their relationship evolved into a very close friendship so much so that when Stuart passed away in 2007, David was the natural person to deliver the eulogy, and he did so with great eloquence.  Since then, David and Sandi have been a tremendous support, making me feel like family.  I can’t overstate this.  David is one of those rare people whom when he asks how are you, he really wants to know.  He is genuinely interested, and a superficial answer does not suffice.  He has an amazing capacity to connect, always with kindness, perspective, and humor.  Perhaps Stuart summed it up best on the occasion of another 50th milestone, David’s 50th birthday. Stuart offered a toast which ended as follows: “Fittingly, we conclude with a question.  David often asks it, and tonight we will give the definitive response.  Are we happy?  Yes, we are all happier because we know David.”

– Rhea Oelbaum, wife of Stuart Oelbaum JD 1977

Professor Becker and Howard Shalowitz, JD87

Professor Becker and Gene Kornblum

With Gratitude for Lifelong Inspiration

Professor Becker’s dedicated teaching, his caring, and his love of the law:  all of these have inspired and continue to inspire me. I became a law professor myself, so his style and persona have been in my thoughts consistently over the years as I aspired to his kind of greatness (an impossible goal). But what gift to have had him as a teacher, and what great fortune to have had him as a role model and lodestar in my own career.

– Sheila (Krawll) Hyatt,  JD ’74

Complete Dedication

David’s dedication to and love for the Washington University School of Law is so complete that he has turned his back on every bedrock principle of his youth.  He grew up a dedicated Blackhawks fan-but no more.  He grew up having his karma for the upcoming week shaped and influenced by the success (or lack thereof) of the Bears-but no more.  He grew up dreaming of playing shortstop for his beloved Cubs-but no more.  Rarely has a turnabout been more complete or profound.  Surely it is a measure of what the School, its students and its faculty have meant to Dave.  Perhaps if the Cubs won more often, maybe if the Bears were more consistently strong, if only the Blackhawks had ascended earlier the future would have been different and we might never have known who owned the calf!

– Michael King JD70

Masterful Teacher, Genuine Care

Professor Becker stands out in my mind as extraordinary not only because he was a masterful teacher but also because he genuinely cared about his students and created an enduring bond with many of us.  Dave has kept in touch with many of his students and follows their accomplishments long after graduation, perhaps because he knows that their professional accomplishments are also his.  I last spoke with Dave in St. Louis at my 45th reunion.  He spoke about the accomplishments and experiences of some of my classmates as if they were his personal friends and so many years had not gone by.  The mere fact that he can remember so many of us including me demonstrates a unique connection that I find a personal treasure.  I am so very pleased to participate in honoring Dave on his 50th.

– John I. Karesh JD70

Nowhere by accident

Weekly I am reminded that “we go nowhere by accident, wherever we go God has sent us for a purpose”.  This is the only explanation I have for going to the Washington U Law interview my senior year at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachuesetts. On paper many of my classmates were more likely to be accepted at Wash U than I. I went anyway and met Dave Becker for the first time.  I didn’t know then the influence this man would subsequently have on my life, my perspective and my future career choices.  Dave Becker saw something in me that day that I hadn’t seen in myself.  His belief in my abilities gave me confidence that I could achieve my life’s dream of a career in Law.
-Hon. Orion Douglass JD71

Far and Wide

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.

Best Wishes,

Gene and Marlene Zafft