By Ron Knecht and Geoffrey Lawrence 

This week we note a recent death and two retirements.  As Mr. Lincoln said: It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  As we mourn the passing of a man, we are reminded of the joy and goodness he brought us, and we also comfort his survivors.  And in honoring the two retirees, we celebrate the values they exemplified and the inspiration and joy they provided.

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Rick Fineberg recently lost a long battle to esophageal cancer.  He was admired and will be sorely missed by many.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in southern California from the time he was eight, Richard became an outstanding lawyer.  He worked at various law firms, including becoming a named partner at one, before opening a solo practice.  In 2007, toward the end of his career, he earned the highest peer review rating for ethical standards and legal ability based on the opinions of his fellow attorneys and judges.

Upon retirement, he became “Rick” and he and his wife Carole moved to Reno, where they have been pillars of the community – especially active as reliable, sensible, limited-government conservatives.  A crack marksman, Rick spent much time on 2nd Amendment advocacy when he wasn’t tooling around on his motorcycle.

At a packed memorial service recently at the Fineburg home, Rick was lauded for many qualities and ultimately called a “mensch” – a Yiddish term meaning a real human being in the broadest and best sense.  A term that applies just as much to Carole.  They have shown stellar integrity, candor, decency, reasonableness and generosity of spirit while being active and vigorous advocates for their public-interest-oriented politics.

We are blessed by such rare folks.

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Earlier this summer, basketballer Tim Duncan retired with a brief announcement – no year-long glory tour, etc.  Few athletes ever exemplified so many noble traits.  His peers include Bill Russell, who was different in some exemplary ways but similar in many others.  There’s no higher honor in sports than to be compared to Russell.  Like him, Duncan was not only a notable winner and an all-time great in their sport, but the essence of constancy and character.

Geoff notes that Duncan completed all four years at Wake Forest University when many players were already turning pro after just a year or two.  When Duncan’s Demon Deacons won the conference championship his sophomore year, many folks speculated he would turn professional immediately.  Instead, he insisted he needed a college education to prepare himself for success in life and deferred the big bucks.

Across 19 professional seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Duncan was a model of consistency, poise and professionalism.  Quiet and unassuming, he always let his performance do the talking.  That doesn’t get product endorsement contracts, but our initially high respect for Duncan grew steadily as he quietly amassed one of the most impressive careers of any player ever.  He is also notable for his active but quiet philanthropy.

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Finally, last Sunday, Charles Osgood announced his retirement from television’s weekly “Sunday Morning” that he has hosted since 1994 and radio’s daily “The Osgood File” that he has broadcast since 1971.  He bids farewell on September 25.

In the late 1980s, Ron lived in San Francisco’s Marina district and was a principal in a Silicon Valley consulting firm while attending graduate school at Stanford.  Working full time and carrying nearly a full-time load in Engineering Economic Systems worked if Ron left in his car by 7:30 each morning to one Osgood file and arrived in Palo Alto an hour later following a second one.  Perfect start to a day.

Osgood’s signature bow-tie on TV seemed to reflect his low-key, calming, reassuring way as he delivered folksy and erudite short essays he composed, sometimes in verse, and presented other TV-magazine features.  With one of the most distinctive and mellifluous voices on the air, he was also skilled at hard news writing and delivery.  He developed a huge following on the radio and overwhelmed the hard-news competition on Sunday morning TV, where his sign-off was: “I’ll see you on the radio.”

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Working for the public against special interests is sometimes daunting.  People like Fineberg, Duncan and Osgood refresh and inspire us.

Ron Knecht is Nevada State Controller.  Geoffrey Lawrence is Assistant Controller.

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