An outpouring of praise for the Southern gentleman and legal giant described as “the definition of a statesman” continues to flood social media, the web and email inboxes as Floridians mourned Monday’s sudden death of Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte.
D’Alemberte, a former president of the American Bar Association and onetime president of Florida State University who also served as dean of the school’s College of Law, was extolled as a brilliant legal scholar who made a lasting imprint on education, civil rights, criminal justice and the courts.
With a shock of white hair, a trademark bow tie and a soft, Southern drawl, was a legal icon who influenced decades of Florida governance and was called “a force of nature” by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, a conservative Republican who is was on the other end of the ideological spectrum from D’Alemberte.
D’Alemberte and his wife, Patsy Palmer, had celebrated their 30th anniversary on May 13, Palmer said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
She said her husband, who was nearly 20 years her senior, “lived fully up until the very, very end.”
Palmer stressed that her husband remained “the Sandy D’Alemberte that you met years ago” until his unexpected death at a Lake City hospital Monday afternoon.
“We will always remember that radiant Sandy D’Alemberte that we all saw and knew for so many years. He will never stop being that person. So as awful as it is that he is gone and we do not have more of him, we do not have to watch him being diminished and miserable,” she said.
For years, Palmer, also a lawyer, has been a constant presence at her husband’s side, whether at Bach Parley concerts in a downtown church or working the halls of the Capitol.
Palmer recalled that she and her husband met just a few days before her 39th birthday, and he was nearly 56 when they tied the knot.
“We had communities and friendships and values in common, and on top of that we were very much in love. He opened so many worlds for me,” she said.
“Sandy” was “a leap and the net will appear kind of guy,” a contrast to her more cautious approach to life, Palmer said.
“I was really the partner who said I’m not sure there was a net,” she added.
“We shared so much, in terms of what we cared about and what we believed in. He opened many worlds to me, and I just feel that if it was a partnership I was a particularly lucky part of that partnership,” Palmer said.
Palmer didn’t hesitate when asked what could be done to honor the Florida icon and show their support for his widow.
She wants stories.
“What I really hope, as people remember him over time — and that includes reporters — if people have stories about him, that they could memorialize those somehow,” Palmer said.
Folks with anecdotes can write them on index cards, type them up or make voice recordings, Palmer suggested.
“I want him to continue, vivid. I want to keep knowing more about him. I would love it if people just got stuff to me, and I will hold onto it and treasure it,” she said.
Anyone with an anecdote or remembrance they would like to share with Patsy Palmer is encouraged to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will make sure she receives all messages and recordings.