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Raymond Burr with Dean Gordon Schaber and Judge Watt in 1981
Once the new library was complete, Burr, a renowned wine connoisseur and gourmet, prepared dinner for the $1,000 contributors. “If Gordon had said, ‘Come up. We want to get a picture of your cutting the grass,’ he would have come up,” Claude Rohwer, McGeorge’s associate dean for international affairs, said at the time. It was not widely known at the time, but both Schaber and Burr were gay. They were also leaders in their respective fields. That commonality could easily be the driving force behind their friendship. Burr and his longtime partner, Robert Benevides, built a popular winery, Raymond Burr Vineyards, in Sonoma County. Burr would come to Sacramento for McGeorge ceremonies and fundraising events.
He last visited in 1992 for Schaber’s retirement celebration. Burr’s health was failing, and he needed a wheelchair to get around. Many said he looked the part of his other famous TV character, the wheelchair-bound Robert Ironside. At the Radisson hotel, Burr shared the stage with Supreme Court Associate Justice Kennedy and other luminaries. “I have never met a man or woman whom I admire more than Gordon Schaber,” Burr said that day. “I must also tell you I have never met a man or woman who could so deftly charm you out of every dollar in your pocket.” Burr died 10 months later at the age of 76. Schaber had a remarkable career, transforming McGeorge from a small night school into a prestigious
law school. From his school days at McClatchy High School until his death in 1997, he was a visionary. While at McGeorge, Schaber
had a profound impact on McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento itself, the legal world and the country. Case closed.
served as the presiding judge of the Superior Court in Sacramento, and he developed programs adopted by
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law schools around the country. In the mid-’60s, he recruited Kennedy to teach at McGeorge, and they became become close friends. It’s likely Schaber had some influence over Kennedy’s later opinions on the Supreme Court, including his historymaking opinion legalizing same-sex marriage. In 1992, Schaber received the American Bar Association’s highest honor for service in legal education, the Robert J. Kutak Award. While time fades memories, the jury is in on Gordon Schaber: He
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