Richard Martin Weinstein, age 78 of Hoboken, New Jersey, passed away on February 2, 2022.
He was born in 1943, a crucial year during which the tide of World War II turned in the Allies’ favor. Born in NYC’s Beth Israel Hospital where his mother’s uncle, obstetrician Dr. Max Mausner, delivered him, Richard grew up in the Bronx where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School.
He majored in political science at The City College of New York. There his lifelong interests in history and civil rights took root. Throughout his life, Richard was guided by the sobering words of a favorite professor (Dr. Chill) who said, “The history of the United States is a history of the denial of civil liberties.” After graduating from New York Law School, Richard worked at the Legal Aid Society in New York. There he developed skills as a criminal defense attorney. His unfailing commitment to justice earned him the family nickname Pitbull Weinstein. He later proudly worked for 8 ½ years in the water enforcement division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II, in Manhattan. During that time he met his wife, Barbara. Richard opened his own law practice in the early 1980s. He had a general practice, including some environmental work, which he also actively pursued pro bono. More recently he focused on preparing appeals for criminal defendants. His commitment to the rights of incarcerated people was fierce and unwavering.
As a baseball player in the Pony League and Little League, Richard had a wicked pitching arm and once pitched a no-hitter while his Uncle Sam proudly watched. He also patiently taught his younger brother, Bob, the difficult skill of bunting a baseball. Richard played golf and tennis, and loved bowling. He tackled The New York Times crossword puzzles regularly, and loved to fly recreational drones, particularly with his nephews and great nephews. After Barbara bought him a wok in the 1980s, he never stopped trying to perfect his favorite Chinese dish, shrimp with lobster sauce.
Richard’s intellectual curiosity was boundless. He often asked incisive questions about a lecture on or a conversation about a topic he knew little about. He read deeply and widely on an enormous variety of subjects, from Reconstruction in the U.S. to the history of Spain, the Reformation in Europe, the political and economic history of India and of the early Christian church. He spoke Spanish, some French, and taught himself Russian. He also loved classical music and jazz.
Richard was a true humanist. As tough as he was in the courtroom or with businesses polluting our water supplies — and with every other adversary– his deep respect for life led him to refuse to kill any insect that showed up in his home. Instead, he would take the time to shoo them outdoors. He liked to fish, but always returned his catch back into the water.
Some of Richard’s favorite places in New Jersey were the Meadowlands at Richard DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst and Liberty State Park. Among his favorite travels were visits to ancient Native American sites in Arizona and New Mexico, and bike riding on rail beds throughout the Northeast and Pennsylvania that have been converted to rails-to-trails.
Richard had a special affection for his pets, particularly his wirehaired fox terrier Jack, his cockatiel and parakeet Tuffy and Buddy, and his sun conure Kiwi, who loved to suck on Richard’s earlobes.
We will miss Richard’s warmth, his laughter, his love of conversation, food, and any party at all, his vigorous defense of whatever he thought was right regardless of the odds or obstacles, and his infectious joie de vivre.
Richard is survived by his wife, Barbara Gombach Weinstein, his brothers David and Robert, and numerous nephews, nieces, great nephews, and great nieces and a large extended family.