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Attorney Richard Grand, a self-described "merchant of words" who earned national prominence by
convincing juries to award his clients tens of millions of dollars, died April 7, 2013. He was 83.
Grand, the son of refugees and a 1958 graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, died of
natural causes in his sleep. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marcia, and a daughter, Cindy.
After a brief, inauspicious stint in the Pima County Attorney’s Office – where he lost 14 out of 15 jury
trials in three months – Grand set off on his own and proceeded to transform himself into a master
practitioner of the trial lawyer’s art.
“The law is not what persuades a jury,” Grand told the Tucson Citizen in 2001. “It’s words. It’s an appeal
to common sense, justice and emotions.”
Grand was never at a loss for words in describing his facility for courtroom persuasion. He once equated
a closing argument to jazz, telling a friend that “it involves a great deal of improvisation.” He also
reveled in the bond between lawyers and actors and courtrooms and the theater.
“With the theater, you need to get people’s minds going,” he said. “That’s exactly what you have to do
with a jury. You have to strike a spark.”
The legal sparks Grand ignited became legendary. Over a law career spanning five decades, he won
verdicts in excess of $1 million in more than 100 cases. His largest recovery was for a $10 million cash
settlement in a medical malpractice case.
In 1972, he won Arizona’s first million-dollar verdict and a verdict of $3.5 million, the largest verdict
in the United States at the time. That same year, the 42-year-old Grand founded the Inner Circle of
Advocates, an invitation-only organization of trial lawyers who have completed at least 50 personal
injury jury trials and have at least one verdict in excess of $1 million for compensatory damages. The
organization’s mission is “to promote the highest standards of courtroom competence” and provide a
forum allowing trial lawyers to share information and ideas about their work.
Grand designed the organization’s logo – the number 7 in a circle – that represented the seven-figure
jury award, not settlement, required to join. According to the organization’s website, “Inner Circle of
Advocates members believe that by achieving justice for their clients, they also achieve changes for the
good of society as a whole.”
The potential for effecting positive social change was for Grand a powerful motivating force, as well as a
source of tremendous personal satisfaction. One of his cases, the drowning of a 7-year-old Tucson girl at
a YMCA pool, not only resulted in an $8 million settlement but prompted the organization to implement
changes aimed at enhancing the monitoring of young swimmers.
Being a trial lawyer, Grand once quipped, was “kind of a Robin Hood thing. All I do really is redistribute
Outside of the courtroom, the Grands have given generously to numerous philanthropic organizations
and the University of Arizona. Often, their donations included paintings and other works of art. He
and Marcia were avid art collectors who also commissioned paintings from local artists. Their love of
vivid colors was evident in these works, as it was in the bright yellow kitchen in their Tucson home and
Grand’s tendency to jot notes with purple felt-tipped pens or sport a bright red watchband.
Grand derived great satisfaction going to plays, movies or watching birds. Simple pursuits – eating hot
dogs on the Fourth of July, a show at Centennial Hall, strolling along a beach, a borscht-belt joke or
going on a road trip to Sonoita, Arizona – always brought him pleasure.
Grand also valued the acknowledgment of his colleagues. A law textbook written by a fellow UA
law alum, Mo Udall, was among his treasured possessions – not so much the book itself but for the
inscription inside the front cover. Udall signed it with a conventional “Best Regards to Dick Grand” in
May 1960, a year before Udall was elected to Congress. Two decades later, in April 1980, Udall signed it
Grand always maintained a special fondness for his alma mater. In 2000, he created a legal-writing
competition that emphasized the importance he placed on good writing. The prizes for the competition
range from $250 for fifth place to $2,000 for first. He also sponsored a competition in oral arguments.
Brochures for these competitions usually included a list of “Thoughts for Law Students,” short phrases
that captured not only Grand’s approach to the law, but to life.
“Sit on a hard chair and sweat” and “If you don’t like learning, don’t become a lawyer” were among the
thoughts in the brochure for the most recent argument competition, which was held April 2. Another
was a piece of sage advice given to him by his father: “Dream… No charge for alterations.”
Grand was an eager and life-long student who was never reluctant to sweat to achieve his goals. He was
born Feb. 20, 1930 in the Free State of Danzig, which is now known as Gdansk. In 1939, amid a rising
tide of increasingly violent anti-Semitism, Grand, his parents and many of the city’s other Jewish families
fled. Thanks to hard-to-get visas obtained by his mother, the family escaped through London and then
settled in New York. Years later, Grand said this harrowing experience, combined with a measure of
“survivor guilt,” may well have been the reason he was drawn to a profession concerned with the
pursuit of justice.
Grand’s father, Morris Grand, died in 1981 and his mother, Rena Wajnberg Grand, died in 2002.
Grand graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1947 and went on to earn his undergraduate degree
from New York University. Warm weather brought him to Tucson, where he dabbled in advertising and
as a disc jockey (using the name “Sentimental Richard”) before entering law school. Grand’s graduation
photo, taken on May 28, 1958, provided a glimpse into his penchant for marching to the beat of his
own drum: It shows him admiring his law school diploma with Marcia and his father, but under his black
gown he is wearing shorts and knee-high socks.
Grand married Marcia on Jan. 27, 1952. He never tired of telling the story of how they eloped in
Nogales, Arizona and used a handkerchief as a tie. He often referred to their enduring relationship as his
On Homecoming weekend in 2011, the Grands shared the Alumnus of the Year Award from UA’s College
of Law. Grand also was honored by the university in 2002, when he became the 12 th recipient of its
Professional Achievement Award.
In 1997, Grand founded and served as the honorary president of the Richard Grand Society, an
association of personal injury attorneys in Great Britain. He also was a member of the International
Society of Paraplegia and the legal section of the British Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is listed in
Best Lawyers in America, Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in the
World. Grand has published on the subjects of case management and the presentation of traumatic
injury. He was a member of the State Bar of Arizona. He was a certified specialist in injury and wrongful
death litigation, Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of Arizona.
Private services are pending. In lieu of flowers donations in Grand’s name can be made to the University
of Arizona Foundation-Art at the University of Arizona College of Fine Art, P.O. Box 210004, Attention:
Development, Tucson, AZ, 85721.
Last Updated on Friday, 12 April 2013 15:35
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The wake will be held at Higgins Funeral Home
Address: 321 South Main Street, New City, NY 10956.
Thursday, April 4, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Friday, April 5, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm AND 7:00pm to 9:00 pm.
Please click here for map.
The Alumni Association sends our heartfelt sympathies to Mr. Teitel and his family.
Please send your condolences to the Teitel Family via the school - Principal's Office, Room 105.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 12:34
Written by Webmaster
Excerpts from The Stuyvesant Spectator...
Friends, family and students gathered at Stuyvesant to celebrate the life of teacher, mentor, family member, and role model Richard Geller. They shared memories in a tribute to his work and dedication.
The Celebration of Richard Geller memorial was held at Stuyvesant High School on Wednesday, November 9, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. in the Murray Kahn Theater. Geller, who was in his 30th year teaching at Stuyvesant, passed away on Tuesday, November 1 due to advanced melanoma cancer.
“I thought [the memorial] was originally going to be a very sad event but it was more like a happy event to remember everything that he had,” junior Victoria Yuan said. The memorial featured several performances, including movements from Bach’s “Suite No. 3 in D Major,” played by the Stuyvesant High School String Quartet. Former principal Stanley Teitel then gave a short speech about how Geller was a beloved math teacher, colleague, and friend of his. “Richard accepted nothing less than 100 percent from his students because that is exactly what he gave for 43 years to the New York City Public School System,” Teitel said.
Friends and colleagues shared many of their own favorite memories of Richard Geller. They reminisced about the hard work and dedication he threw into his work, but also his lesser-known features. New York City Interscholastics Mathematics League Board of Directors member and former head coach of the New York City Math Team David Linker spoke of Richard Geller’s capable nature, as well as his funny relationship with technology. “One year, we were at the [American Regions Mathematics League] and I got a call from his wonderful wife Barbara and she said, ‘I have a little problem. I need to speak to Richard. Can you find him?” and I said ‘Why don’t you call him on his cell?’ she said, ‘He doesn’t turn it on,’ so I went looking for him and I said ‘Richard, Barbara needs to talk to you. Can you please call her,’ and he said ‘Sure, can I borrow your cell phone?’” Linker said.
Barbara Geller also spoke at the memorial. “I was married to Richard Geller for almost 28 years and I thought I knew everything about him. I knew I loved him deeply but I did not even come close to appreciating how much all of [Stuyvesant] loved him,” she said. His colleagues reflected on the inspiration they received from his dedication to math and his students and his willingness to share his skills as an educator.
“Being in the classroom engaging with his students was what gave Richard energy and life. As a teacher who plans to spend my life teaching, that is what was most inspiring to me about his example: the energy he brought to and drew from each day at Stuyvesant,” Thoms said. “He shared his passion generously.”
“Throughout his life, Richard has been a constant: learned, forceful, open, generous, a hardworking colleague and friend. He taught us to love what we do every day, as if it was with passion and energy,” Ferrara said.
At the end of the memorial the Geller family was presented with a letter from the Student Union and a book signed by members of the Stuyvesant community. “He is as much a part of the building as when he was alive,” Cho said. Faculty members commended Richard Geller for being a welcoming figure in the Stuyvesant community. “Thank you Richard for making me feel welcome for my very first day here,” math teacher Ashvin Jaishankar said. “I only hope I can be half the teacher and man that you are and that wherever you are now, please continue to instill in all those around you that math is number one.”
Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 12:14