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Bar News - November 13, 2009

Master Peter Bourque: An Extraordinary Life

The following remarks are taken from the eulogy given by Hon. Deborah K. Rein in tribute to Marital Master Peter Bourque at his memorial service on Oct. 7, 2009.

As a colleague and as a friend, I want to celebrate today Peterís professional gifts and contributions.

The first time I met Peter I was a young lawyer working for NH Legal Assistance and he was sitting as a master in the superior court. It was a simple case and, to make it even more simple, the other side did not show up. I went into the hearing room and explained to Master Bourque what relief my client was seeking. He looked at me benevolently and, I thought, with some amusement, and asked me where my written Proposed Order was. I didnít have one. He very patiently explained to me why it was helpful to him and better for my client for me to submit my request in writing and in proper form, and, in the course of three minutes and in the most courteous way possible, immeasurably improved my level of professionalism.

I think this is Peterís ultimate legacy to his profession and to his colleagues on the bench. By his example, he has made us all better lawyers, judges, and human beings.

If you speak to members of the Bar, they will tell you that Peter showed respect for every individual who appeared before him as a party to a case and honored their lives through his thoughtful attention. People left the courtroom believing that they had been fully heard by a compassionate human being who, no matter the ultimate outcome, gave his full attention and heart to their unique situations. At the same time, he demanded the highest standards of practice from the lawyers who appeared before him. He mentioned frequently how lawyers should feel truly honored that people choose them to help them through some of the most difficult times in their lives and, therefore, they owe their clients their very best. And, by setting an example of integrity, diligence, thoughtfulness, intelligence and civility, he brought out the best in those practicing before him.

Largely through his leadership efforts and his devotion to public service, we now have a thoroughly professional core of judicial officers (now, grown to 14 Marital Masters) who devote themselves to families in crisis. Peterís example to honor every family with his patience, compassion, respect, and good sense continues to be our model, even years after his retirement.

One of my male colleagues said to me that Peter was the best example that one could be a man and still show a gentle compassion for his fellow human beings. We are all better people for having known him.

I personally will miss our dinners together. Peter never tired of my stories about court and colleagues. I never tired of hearing his wry observations and I never stopped learning from him. His support for me sustained me in difficult times, and I will cherish our friendship forever.

Of course, Peter will live on in the memory of his beloved family and in the memory of his friends and colleagues. He will also live on in the lives of thousands of families that he touched with his wisdom and compassion, his honesty, and his commitment to simply making their lives better.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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