With bowed heads, lowered flags and flowing tears, many members of the Berkshire community mourned the loss of Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg over the weekend.
The judge was no stranger to the Berkshires, relishing in visits to art museums and friends' homes in the region while balancing a profound and prolific career.
"She was a woman of many passions and talents and interests ... yet, all the pieces of her life were so intertwined for serving that mission of justice," said Julia Heaton, head of Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield.
Richard Rand, former curator for The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, said he will remember Ginsburg as not only the lover of Winslow Homer paintings, but a warrior who fought relentlessly the trials for equity.
"I think she'll be seen as one of the great defenders of civil rights, of women's rights, of LGBTQ rights. Her opinions and dissents will go down as some of the more impactful arguments in the sense of the people. She was a defender of the people, not of corporations of the elite," he said.
Here, others reflect on the justice's passing:
On the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and passing the torch
"One way to think of it is what seems obvious to us today, that women and men are equal, was a radical project when the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg began her adjudication campaign. ... Everybody now is her inheritor."
— Linda Greenhouse U.S. Supreme Court reporter and analyst for The New York Times and part-time Stockbridge resident
"She was just a fantastic lawyer and an outstanding judge, no two ways about it. She's going to be missed. ... How she was passionate for cases involving the rights of women and the fights for equality, for justice, stand out more than anything for me."
— Francis X. Spina, Pittsfield native and retired associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
"There's the academic answer: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the federal judge more responsible for gender equality than any other in history. ... Then, she was the first celebrity justice rock star icon that she is. The contrast between her ferocity, tenacity and perseverance for fighting for all of these things with this slight frame of an elderly woman who was reported to lift weights on a daily basis — people were captivated by the way she was more than met the eye."
— Justin Crowe, Williams College chair of leadership studies and associate professor of political science
"There are only two times I've cried over the death of a celebrity — George Harrison and her. ... When I met her, she was this tiny, slight little woman. I felt like I could just pick her up, hug her and spin her around. But, she commanded the room. ... Her dissents are well-worded; they're respectful but fiery. [Associate Justice Sonia] Sotomayor has started taking that torch in recent years, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she just exuded something."
— Buffy D. Lord, senior associate and attorney for Pittsfield-based Donovan O'Connor & Dodig LLP, who briefly met Ginsburg during a 2002 luncheon at the Pepperdine University School of Law
On Ginsburg's advocacy for women and women's rights
"The women lawyers of my generation stand on Justice Ginsburg's shoulders and I feel only gratitude for her unwavering commitment to justice and to gender equity. I would not be the first female Berkshire DA without her & her generation blazing a trail for women in the law. We can fret over SCOTUS tomorrow, but right now I am marveling over her CHUTZPAH. Shana Tova! Long live the notorious RBG. I am going to cry now."
— Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington, via a Facebook post shared with The Eagle
"For me, she was an inspiration, and for a lot of women lawyers as well. She got a lot of grief for even being in law school. After she graduated, she couldn't find a job, and it wasn't that long ago in our history."
— Lenox attorney Janet Hetherwick Pumphrey
"When I talk about her with my daughters, I say, 'This is the woman who made things possible for us, for girls and women like us.' A few years ago, we were doing speeches on heroes and heroines and I talked about Justice Ginsburg and why, for me, she stands out. We talked a lot about voice and how she cultivated a voice that was so strong, so powerful; and also about the power of dissents and the value of civil and civic disagreement. We need more of that."
— Julia Heaton, head of Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield
"My heart is breaking. Champion of women and civil rights, justice, fairness and equality. A beacon of hope and inspiration to little girls and women everywhere; I had so much respect for her. There was so much dignity, goodness and compassion wrapped up in a tiny little package! Yet, she had no qualms about removing her lace collar and robe and allowing us to see her doing her workout. How beautiful is that?!"
— Candis McDonough, of Pittsfield, via a Facebook post shared with The Eagle
On her patronage of the arts
"She was a very sophisticated, cultured person. She would come up from Washington, D.C., and liked the whole cultural tourism aspect of the Berkshires. She didn't show off any knowledge, just asked questions and let me talk, absorbing. She was the type of person who listens very carefully and absorbs what people have to say."
— Richard Rand, of Los Angeles, associate director of collections at the J. Paul Getty Museum, who would give Ginsburg summer tours when he was curator at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown
"What I loved about her is, she was so smart and so driven, but what I got to see was how she always played. She came to the opera every year, and you could see it really meant a lot to her to have those weekends of art and culture and singing. ... She would say [about herself], 'I'm a terrible opera singer,' so, she became a patron of the arts and the arts world."
— Bridget Rigas, of Pittsfield, former associate director of development for the Glimmerglass Festival opera company, which frequently hosted Ginsburg and her late husband, Martin, and a program called "On Opera and the Law"
Other memories of Ginsburg in the Berkshires
"Even though I would have loved to hear Justice Ginsburg speak about stare decisis or some other legal topic, she spoke on "Great Ladies in Supreme Court History." Her lecture was excellent, and it was very well-received by the packed audience. My over-riding memory of Justice Ginsburg was how very shy she was and that she wore a single white lace glove on her right hand to shake hands with."
— Lenox attorney Janet Hetherwick Pumphrey, who co-organized an event for Ginsburg to speak at Ventfort Hall on Sept. 16, 2005; it was moved to Trinity Episcopal Church with a standing-room-only crowd
"Justice Ginsburg frequently visited our galleries during the summer. It was always an exciting moment and an honor for us to host her and her family. She had a great appreciation for art and a keen interest in learning more about the works in our collection. Beyond the thrill of having her visit The Clark, though, we were always deeply touched by her openness and humility as she moved through our galleries, happily saying hello to other visitors and delighting in the opportunity to spend private, personal time with the paintings in our collection. ... She had a tremendous appreciation for the paintings of Winslow Homer."
— Victoria Saltzman, director of communications, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown
"The beginning was a bit heavy, but the answers she gave were profound and timely. I was pleased just to be in her court."
— Julie Martino, one of more than 650 who turned out to hear Ginsburg speak at the free, public J. Leo Dowd & Catherine Mellon Dowd Dowmel Foundation Lecture Series on Sept. 15, 2005, held at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington