I am writing this letter to you, because, as you well know, despite all my attempts, and your repeated requests, I haven’t been able to call you by your first name — at least not to your face. From where I stood, respecting you deeply, and always grateful, so very grateful that you were there for me from day one, — as far as I was concerned, your first name was “Justice”. But I WAS able to call you Randy when I was writing to you, hence this letter.
Thirty-one years ago, almost to the day, I received the first ever telephone call from you. I was on the job at the Bar Association only a few days. When I picked up the phone I heard you say: “Hi Rina, this is Randy Holland.” “I am calling to welcome you to the Delaware Bar, and if there is anything I can do to help, feel free to contact me.” The first thought that came to my mind, was that there absolutely had to be more than one Randy Holland at the Bar, because the thought that you– would call to welcome me and offer your help, was something I couldn’t quite fathom. So — after our conversation, I quickly checked the 1991 legal directory, only to find out that YOU, the person who just phoned me, was indeed, the one and only Randy Holland.
This telephone call was the beginning of what would become three extraordinary decades in which I was privileged to have you as my trusted advisor, mentor, coach, and sometimes just angel, who always knew the right answers to the numerous questions I had asked you over the years and, with few words, in your quiet reassuring way, you always steered me to see people and situations in a way that led to the best possible decisions. And when I thanked you profusely every time, you just kept encouraging me to keep calling anytime and to please call you Randy. I believe I have done almost everything you have ever asked me to do, except for these two things: I just couldn’t call you Randy, and I hesitated greatly before calling you for help. But call you I did, quite q few times in thirty-one years.
I remember the questions I used to ask you. Most of them revolved around navigating human interactions. You showed me ways I have never known before, of how I could handle even the most aggressive people, — your way! The Randy Holland way, with grace, consideration and compassion!
I especially remember one particular dilemma I faced some twenty years ago, when someone had asked me to write a chapter in a memorial book for a person I have known since we were kids, and who had died prematurely! I told you how I didn’t want this assignment, and I struggled with it, as I didn’t like this person, and couldn’t think of anything nice to say about him. “What shall I do?” I asked you then?” Shall I write the truth as I saw it—or – shall I just lie and say things I don’t mean?
“Do neither,” you told me, “there is some good in most people. Find that good and write just– that.” “The only good I can find in him, is when I remember him as a little boy” I said to you, and you replied: “then write what he was like as a little boy.” — I did — the book was published, and his family was delighted.
In 1994, with the new millennium around the corner, — you, in partnership with Harvey Rubenstein envisioned and launched a monumental undertaking to write and publish an extensive history of the Delaware Bar in the Twentieth Century. You assembled a remarkable group of people, to write and edit the manuscript and invited me to join you, to write a chapter and to assist in the design of the book, and you invited my husband Steve to take the many pages that had been received and gather them into a beautiful book. And this, as it were, was just the beginning! Three more times you invited me to join you, Harvey, and your team and three more books followed: “The Delaware Constitution of 1897, The First 100 Years” in 1997, “Delaware Supreme Court Golden Anniversary” in 2001; and finally, in August of 2020, at the heart of the pandemic, came a phone call from you requesting that we join you in creating another new book.
This time, I tried to talk you into choosing someone else, perhaps younger and more tech savvy. “Why us?” But you wouldn’t hear of it. “It has to be you and Steve,” you said — and as you know I’ve always done what you’ve asked of me, well, almost always.
And so, in 2021, for the fourth time in twenty years we were privileged to be part of your book team. Once again, history has been recorded by you and the many talented writers you assembled, and resulted in the beautifully written and designed “Delaware Supreme Court History.” The only thing I couldn’t imagine at that time, was that this would be our last project together.
These, as well as all the other books you authored and edited, make for a treasure trove of history, a priceless gift for future generations of students and historians. As for me, I am so glad, proud and very grateful to you for including me in these endeavors.
I want to thank you so much. For your wisdom –, good counsel and support on so many occasions, and for helping me out of some sticky situations. Thank you for stopping by at the Bar Association office often just to see us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the reason I got to know Ilona whom I so greatly admire.
I wrote this letter to you Randy, but also to Ilona, Ethan, Jennifer, Rori and Chloe, your brother James and sister-in-law Nancy and your whole extended family. Through your eyes and words, over the years, I witnessed the love– that so strongly bonded all of you, and the many blessings you shared.
So many people loved you and will miss you so very much Randy!
So will I!
With the greatest affection and gratitude,
Rina Marks served as Executive Director of the Delaware State Bar Association for 25 years (1991-2016).