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Jack A. Donenfeld

John Kerry and Jack Donenfeld

What is your favorite memory of John Kerry?

I stopped by John's house on Beacon Hill on the Saturday morning of our 2004 reunion weekend. He was in the midst of his Presidential Campaign, and he was plenty busy. Unfortunately, although he knew about our reunion, he had committed to a speaking engagement in New Hampshire that evening and couldn't attend the reunion festivities.

John was gracious and open in talking to me that day, and it made me think back to a particular time during our first year in law school. After real property class one day during our first year, I voiced concern about understanding some things that had been discussed in class. John insisted that we find a quiet spot to sit down and go over the material. His comprehension was excellent, which one might expect of someone who was older and had some real world experience. But what I didn't expect was how much time and effort he expended with me, painstakingly teaching me what I needed to know, not only about real property, but about how to approach the complex legal concepts, generally, that were coming at us daily. He went out of his way to help me, some kid from Dayton, Ohio whom he hardly knew. Always a generous, thoughtful guy, doing whatever he could to make things better for everyone he touched.

After we chatted on that Saturday of the reunion weekend, I had someone snap a quick photo outside of John's house. His "handlers" then put him in a black SUV, and he rushed off for an important meeting...which I later was told was a haircut (ha, ha).

How would you describe his personality back then--was he outgoing, very involved in the life of the school? More introspective and focused?

My impression of John was always that he cared deeply about issues, ideas and his friends. And, although he acted like a "grown-up" most of the time, he definitely had a sense of humor.  

Could you ever have imagined the John Kerry you knew in law school would become Secretary of State? Were there early signs of his leadership skills that have served him so well during a life in public service?

Everyone knew John's Vietnam Vet and congressional campaign background, so, combined with the intelligence and personality we witnessed first-hand, future public service seemed like a natural for him.  It was openly discussed, and I don't think his run for the presidency or his appointment as Secretary of State was a great surprise to any of his BC Law classmates.

--Jack A Donenfeld
Law Offices of Jack A Donenfeld, a Legal Professional Association


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