FSU family honors Sandy D'Alemberte and lawyer Bob Kerrigan for human rights work
Even John Thrasher wore a bow tie.
The iconic neckwear was out in full force in Tallahassee Tuesday night as the Florida State University community honored former FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte. The occasion was the 15th anniversary of FSU's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, which D'Alemberte and others started with a big financial boost from the evening's other honoree, lawyer and FSU alumnus Bob Kerrigan.
The center, which will be rebranded featuring D'Alemberte's name, works to reduce human trafficking and provides free legal help to victims of torture and people seeking political asylum throughout the world, working out of a nondescript rented building near the FSU law school. A proposed rendering of a new two-story center was shown, but that costs money -- so Thrasher urged the crowd to write the checks to make it happen.
The crowd of about 250 at FSU's Alumni Center included former Gov. Buddy MacKay and his wife Anne; Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Justice Ricky Polston; former justices Major Harding, Joseph Hatchett and Harry Lee Anstead; former First Lady Donna Lou Askew; former Gov. Reubin Askew's chief of staff, Jim Apthorp; former state university system chancellor Charlie Reed; Steve MacNamara, a close friend of D'Alemberte's who was chief of staff to Thrasher as House speaker; Florida Democratic Party chair Allison Tant, and lawyer Martha Barnett, who cited D'Alemberte's habit of recruiting others to help his causes.
"His smile, it's a magnet," Barnett said. "It pulls you in."
As speaker, with D'Alemberte in the FSU president's office, Thrasher secured state money to start FSU's College of Medicine nearly two decades ago. D'Alemberte is a Democrat and FSU President Thrasher is a Republican, but they share a devotion to all things garnet and gold.
"He cares about the right things that make America strong," Thrasher said. "I wish I could be more like him."
D'Alemberte, 82, has been a state legislator, member of a statewide Constitution Revision Commission, president of the American Bar Association, dean of the FSU law school and school president. D'Alemberte and his wife and law partner Patsy Palmer will soon embark on another of their extended trips around the world.