Victor Rabinowitz, 1911-2007

lawyer600.jpgOn Friday night, November 16th my father, Victor Rabinowitz, passed away quietly at home. He was 96 and to say he had lived a full life would be a vast understatement. He was a truly great man of integrity who taught me appreciation for many things including politics, baseball, gardening, photography, chess, Shakespeare and classical music, among others. It was also because of him and my mother that I was able to travel at an early age and develop a love for other countries and cultures.

Despite my early (and continued) support for the dominant New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, I was taught that in most situations, the underdog was to be supported and that those less fortunate deserved respect and wherever possible, a leg up. Among those items in the above list, “politics” is probably his lasting legacy to me, because it was through leftist politics that I learned an appreciation for all those things in which any good progressive believes.

Social programs designed to help the poor and infirm; the need for universal healthcare; the right of citizens in a so-called free society to speak out against the government when necessary (and even when not…it’s one of those rights that works both ways); that people should be paid a fair living wage for a day’s work and anything less than this is exploitation, regardless of the country in which it occurs; that the US is not the boss of the world and it is not our business to poke our nose in where it’s not wanted simply to make a few rich, white Americans even richer (they can’t get any whiter, trust me).

We spent endless hours discussing the miracle that is baseball. We both had an unending curiosity and appreciation for the sport and could watch it and talk about it for hours. His was such a long life that he once saw Ty Cobb steal home at Fenway Park and went to the 1928 World Series. I can only imagine what it must have been like. He also drove a Model-T Ford at summer camp (it was actually an old car at the time) and rode a trolley past dairy farms in Brooklyn to visit his grandfather in the early 1900’s. I can’t really imagine any of that, either. When he was born there were no commercial airplane flights and a short 58 years later (and 3 days after my birth) a man walked on the Moon. He saw both the rise and fall of the Soviet Union but missed the last Cubs World Series win by only 3 years. During his life there have been 17 presidents, from Taft to “W” and I dare say dad made some trouble for a few of them and they deserved it, too.

During the past few years of his life, his eyesight and hearing were in pretty bad shape, so much so that he could follow almost nothing on TV. As a result he was limited to C-Span, CNN and baseball games. Victor was such a principled and caring man and it’s a real shame that aside from the midterm elections of 2006, recent years held little succor for a man of his politics and temperament. Despite huge gains in said election, the senate continues to be soft and tame under the flaccid “leadership” of Harry Reid and the lunatic, often racist ramblings of Lou Dobbs on CNN drove him batty. Even the Mets failed him this year, performing the worst collapse in baseball history.

He was ready to go, I think. None of us were ready for him to leave, of course, but you never are, really. I never got to show my dad my “chops,” professionally, at least not in full. He was many things, but a man of the Information Age was not one of them. 11 years ago he published his memoirs and wrote them out longhand, on a yellow legal pad. This was not a man to whom it was easy to explain blogs or even indieWIRE, really. He was concerned about my ability to take care of myself financially, of course but I think he was most concerned and eventually pleased and proud, that I, along with my brother and sister, had grown up as a “good person.” I like to think I have a good moral compass, positive personal values and goals and a healthy and appropriately concerned outlook on the world. It’s to his and my mother’s credit that they really never gave me anything to rebel against and as a result, the apple couldn’t have fallen closer to the tree.

He was and remains, my hero. I miss him, greatly.

Here are a few obituaries that have been running over the past few days:
New York Times
International Herald Tribune
East Hampton Star
Time Magazine
Marjorie Cohn: The Huffington Post
Photo, L to R: Victor Rabinowitz, Dr. Benjamin Spock and Leonard Boudin © The Associated Press

2 thoughts on “Victor Rabinowitz, 1911-2007”

  1. A Memorial Meeting For My Father, Victor Rabinowitz

    You are invited to join me, my family and friends as we celebrate and remember the life of my “unrepentant leftist” father, Victor Rabinowitz (July 2, 1911 – November 16,…

  2. Hello Mark
    I am very saddened to read that your father passed on. As you may remember I wrote to you a while ago (after learning that your mom Joanne passed away)telling you I was a friend of your family and lived with you and your parents and took care of you during the summers when you were a little guy (3-4 yrs old) Your dad Victor was a truly remarkable human being. I remember one night I made dinner for a guest of your family, Alger Hiss. I had some very interesting times when I lived with your family in E. Hampton and we would go into NY to the apartment off of 5th ave and stay sometimes. We also took a trip to Maine one summer and stopped off in New Hampshire to visit Abby Rockefeller who was a hippy living on a beautiful farm at the time, growing pot and living with some car mechanic. It was an interesting experience to say the least. We went to Maine and stayed with your brother Peter, and his wife in a cabin on a lake. I remember on the way up there with you sitting in a restaurant and you were mouthing off at the ripe old age of 3 yelling so everyone could hear you over and over, “asshole asshole” and your parents both looked at me and knew where you got it fro. You were pretty funny, I’ll never forget. I use to hang out in the garden with you and your dad as he really loved to do that ( his compost heap was his treasure). I use to do photography and took some pictures of you and him in the garden, you climbing on his back as he was digging around.
    I am dealing with my 87 yr old father who has been very ill these past few months. He is in late stage parkinson’s but has so many other problems that it is just a matter of time for him. He suffers from severe dementia so although he knows who I am he doesn’t remember yesterday or this morning if I saw him or not. Right now he’s in the hospital and that is his 4th time since end of August. It is really hard to see your parent come to the end of their life like this. They are not the person you remember them as. They become like children again. That is what I was thinking as I was feeding my dad yesterday.
    Your father had a prosperous, long life and he did good things while he was on this earth. He really was a dear man.
    Donna Pedroncelli, Albuquerque NM

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