At 80, Florida icon Sandy D'Alemberte marks a milestone
More than a hundred of Talbot (Sandy) D'Alemberte's friends dropped by the rotunda at the Florida State University law school Thursday to help him celebrate his 80th birthday at a party arranged by his wife and law partner, Patsy Palmer. The courtly and ever-smiling D'Alemberte wore one of his signature bow ties and greeted well-wishers for more than an hour as guests sampled cake, ice cream, iced tea and lemonade.
"Sandy is one of the finest human beings I have ever known," said former Gov. Reubin Askew, wearing a garnet and gold necktie, who worked the crowd accompanied by his wife, Donna Lou."He was always motivated for the right reasons."
Askew recalled the hazards D'Alemberte faced in the Senate while trying to pass major legislation, known as Article V, to modernize the court system in Florida in the early 1970s. "On Article V, he came to me one day with tears in his eyes," Askew recalled. D'Alemberte nodded knowingly as he recalled Askew's intervention with Sen. Dempsey Barron of Panama City to get the bill passed.
D'Alemberte, who turns 80 on June 1, has worn many hats in a public career that has spanned six decades in Florida. He was a Democratic House member from Miami from 1966 to 1972, served as Florida chairman of the George McGovern presidential campaign in '72, taught at the FSU law school, became its dean and later the president of FSU. Along the way, he also found time to serve as president of the American Bar Association and he continues to perform extensive pro bono legal work. His legislative career included the tumultuous year of 1967, when the Legislature underwent massive change because it was forced to reapportion districts to end control of the so-called pork choppers from rural Florida.
Among those who stopped by to wish D'Alemberte a happy birthday were two former Supreme Court justices, Major Harding and Stephen Grimes; several former state legislators, including Pete Dunbar, Curt Kiser and Ron Richmond; lawyers and lobbyists including Jim Eaton, Steve Uhlfelder, Allison de Foor, Lester Abberger, Neil Skene, Florence Snyder Rivas and Paul Jess, some of whom were law school students of D'Alemberte's.