From the time I met Neil Gorsuch as a 17-year-old Columbia University freshman, I knew immediately that he would affect more lives than anyone I’d ever meet there. Indeed, he was intellectually gifted and a fantastic student, but that’s not what impressed me.
I was amazed by the qualities we don’t usually associate with geniuses. Aside from his infectiously upbeat nature, Neil’s uniqueness lay in the confluence of cerebral brilliance with compassion, humility and a willingness to truly listen to a diverse range of thought.
Those traits gave him the uncommon ability to band together a disparate group of students to establish a newspaper dedicated to offering varying and sometimes divergent opinions on campus matters. He could have settled for the same old fare we were offered, but he wanted better for all of us.
I served as the paper’s business manager and saw firsthand how we came together because we wanted to please our brilliant, eloquent and ever-encouraging friend, Neil. Additionally, his boundless energy enabled him to graduate in three years while maintaining a healthy social life.
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Time and success can change people. Not Neil.
A few years ago, he invited me to visit him at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals when I was in Denver. Ever humble and energetic, Neil asked about my family and wanted to hear my views on many subjects, even when we clashed.
He had much to do, yet, here he was grabbing his keys to take me on a tour of the storied courthouse, unlocking doors and leading me into sacred places. No fake airs, no “call me judge.” He was just the same humble friend I’d always known. I’m looking forward to the rest of the country getting to know Neil Gorsuch, as well.
Victor H. Mendelson, co-president, HEICO Corp., Miami