I picked up the Boston Globe this morning and found the obituary of Dan Sharp, a friend, a lawyer and a former colleague when he and I worked together at Lawyers Weekly in the early 1990s. Seeing that his funeral was this morning, I jumped in my car and went. Afterward, when I returned to my office, I found an e-mail from the Virgin Islands bar notifying me of the death of Dave Dilts, a lawyer on St. Croix who was the first associate I ever hired when I had a law office on St. Thomas in the 1980s.
After Dan left Lawyers Weekly, he went on to establish a highly regarded law practice with his wife Elaine Whitfield Sharp. They became known internationally for their legal work on behalf of Louise Woodward, the then 19-year-old au pair convicted in 1997 in the death of the 8-month-old boy she was caring for. Dan was a tireless fighter for civil rights. Three years ago, when two of his cases were in the headlines on the same day, I sent him this e-mail:
After reading about two of your cases in the news today, it struck me how much I’ve come to respect your work as a lawyer — the cases you take, the work you put into them. Both … show the lengths you’ll go to for a client. As someone who knew you when and respected you when, I thought I’d let you know that you continue to have my respect.
Now I find out it was right around then that he learned he had a brain tumor, which he found for three years, continuing to practice law much of that time. Dan was an avid sailor, and at his funeral this morning, someone quoted him as applying to his life a lesson he learned on the water: “You can’t direct the wind, but you can adapt your sails.” A good thought to live by.
As for Dave Dilts, I know nothing more other than that he died Feb. 15 at his home on St. Croix. I hired him around 1986, when my solo practice on St. Thomas grew too busy for me to handle alone. He joined my office brimming with enthusiasm and intellect and also knew how to cook up a mean gumbo, thanks to his New Orleans roots. I last saw him two years ago, when I was on St. Croix to present a CLE program. I’m glad now that I took some time while I was there to visit him. We had beers and relived those days working together as young lawyers.