Sunday, October 17, 2010
The cathedral was packed with family, friends, and admirers of all ages. As one of Meade’s children observed so well, Meade would have liked to have been there just for the opportunity to “work the room.” It was a crisp, sunny autumn afternoon in Seattle, and the bright light shining through the cathedral windows reflected the trait that all of the speakers referred to—Meade’s undying optimism. The speakers included Meade’s children, each of whom delivered heartfelt and moving remembrances of their father. One mentioned that Meade concluded every conversation with, “You’re the best.” Instantly I remembered all of the times Meade ended our many chats with, “You’re a great American.” I wasn’t the best, I suppose, but was happy enough with being a great American.
Another spoke of Meade’s commitment to justice, and these remarks were especially poignant to me. On so many occasions I saw Meade give an aspiring tax lawyer his or her first chance. Meade looked beyond the transcripts and test scores of applicants to the Graduate Program in Taxation—if he saw something that showed potential, he rallied to give the applicant a chance. He believed in letting students prove themselves in the classroom, and he was rarely disappointed. He also believed that education should be available to all who were qualified, and he consistently fought against proposals to raise the tuition charged to Tax LL.M. students. A law school colleague said it best several years ago: “Meade never met an application he didn’t like—or a tuition increase he did like.”
For me, Meade’s commitment to giving someone a chance made all the difference in the world. Meade gave me my first shot at the University of Washington as a part-time lecturer in 1995. He gave me additional chances for the next four years, and when I applied for a tenure-track position in 1999, he was my staunchest supporter. He wrote an impassioned letter in support of my application for tenure in 2003, and in 2004, when I was appointed Co-Director of Graduate Program in Taxation, he graciously welcomed me with open arms. It is thanks to him that I enjoy the most fulfilling job imaginable.
The debt I owe to Meade is immense. I suppose he might be the first person to say I now have income from the discharge of indebtedness, but in my mind the debt continues. I hope to repay it by extending to others the same chances he gave to me—a form of repayment I think he would like.