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Remarks for Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Mydans' memorial by U.S. Attorney John Walsh

February 25, 2012

Good afternoon, I'm John Walsh, the U.S. Attorney for Colorado.

Present today are many representatives of the courts, including Chief Judge Daniel of the US District Court and other members of that bench, Chief Justice Bender of the Colorado Supreme Court, and other members of the Colorado Supreme Court, as well as many law enforcement officials, federal, state and local, and a huge number of members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The list is simply too long for me to recount.

But I should begin by letting you know, Judy, Dan and Lindsay, that these judges and others are not hear from a sense of institutional obligation, but rather, because they knew Bob Mydans, called him a friend, and respected and admired him. The attendance today is a reflection of how many people Bob touched.

But among those representatives of law enforcement, I would also like specifically to recognize Marshall Jarrett, Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the division in the Department of Justice in Washington for all the U.S. Attorneys Offices nationwide. Marshall is an old friend of Bob's and has brought with him a few things that he will present in just a moment. Thank you for coming, Marshall.

[Marshall Jarrett reads letter from Attorney General Holder and presents flag flown over the Department of Justice in Washington, DC in Bob’s honor.]

As the sheer number and diversity of people who are here today show, Bob Mydans touched a huge number of people over the course of his life, and left a legacy of good will, appreciation and affection. Over the last week, as U.S. Attorney, I have received literally hundreds of emails and notes from people all over the country expressing their sadness at Bob's passing, and their appreciation for the way he lived his life. We’re pulling those messages together for the family.

One of those people, Gay Guthrie, formerly an Assistant U.S. Attorney here in Colorado, and now an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma, was unable to make it today because his wife is very ill. But he asked me to read the following note that he would have given had he been here, and I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t read them, he’d come after me!

Bob Mydans, My Friend

Bob and I became friends when he came to Denver in 1980 to work on an organized crime case. Based in Kansas City, he traveled to Denver for a week or ten days every month for nearly two years. Often he would stay with Paula and me at our home in Arvada and we would commute to work together. It was a wonderful experience, personally and professionally. Bob was a fine man and great lawyer, and it didn’t take long to know that when you got to know him. We tried some difficult cases as a team and there was no one better to do it with. He was fair, smart, and tough. Later, we made trips to Montreal together working a gemstone fraud case. Bob knew how to have a good time and he was a loyal, stand up guy. Everyone liked him. Many loved him.

We got to know Judy and the kids and went skiing together. Danny took our daughter, Ann, to the prom. We went mountaineering and climbed together. One day Bob led me out on a snow field that was much steeper than I realized. When we got to the middle of the crossing it dawned on me that I could get killed doing this. If I slipped it would be a fast slide into a frigid mountain lake. Bob talked me across. Calm and cool, he was a highly skilled and fearless outdoorsman.

Bob and I served on the Board of Directors of The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys. For years he worked tirelessly and gave generously of his own time and resources to make the Assistant United States Attorney position better. All AUSA’s owe him a great debt of gratitude.
Goodbye Bob, you left us way too soon. Gay Guthrie

* * *

Bob's passing has had the impact it has on all of us in part because he was such a vibrant, active person, and one who not only loved life, but loved people and by his very presence made everyone around him a little happier, and little more energetic. I cannot tell you how many people have recounted to me important, affirming conversations they had with Bob even in just the couple of days before his death. It was like there were three of him offering his wisdom and advice to help others in that short time. And so, his death has made many of us reexamine our own lives, and consider whether we should be living them a little more like Bob lived his -- with complete enthusiasm.

There was never any doubt what Bob cared about, and where his priorities lay. Most of us live our lives as a sort of grand, confused jumble of interests, people, work and moments. A little like the light that shines through a stained glass window on to the floor -- beautiful, but a bunch of different patches of color and shapes dancing on the floor. Bob did not live his life that way. When the light of life shone on Bob's life, it was as if it was shining on a prism -- white light came in, and clear, single beams of color came out the other side, leaving no question what Bob's life was about.

The first of those beams of color and light was his family. Judy, Dan & Lindsey, Bob's office was one of those offices that barely had room for law books and case files because he had so many pictures of all of you, on every wall and on every surface. No one could ever mistake that the most important thing to him was all of you.

The second of those brilliant colors was Bob’s work, and specifically, his work for the Department of Justice, and for the people of the Department of Justice and law enforcement. Bob Mydans lived, breathed and bled the mission of the Department of Justice -- to do justice, to protect the public, and to do it fairly and within the confines of the law. We are here in a room with hundreds of people who saw him do that, compassionately, but with determination and enormous skill. Perhaps one gauge of how remarkable a prosecutor he was is that dozens of those notes and emails I have received about Bob were from defense attorneys, his former adversaries, who universally praise him for his fairness, his integrity, and his compassion.

And Bob valued the people who work in the Department and in law enforcement as if they were his own brothers and sisters. He always saw his role as sticking up for the line prosecutor, our staff members, and line agents and officers. And he was frequently in my office reminding me to play the same role. Which I will not forget.

The third of those bright beams of color was Bob's sense of life as an adventure, something worth taking risks to experience and to exult in. Bob loved the mountains, with all their beauty and their danger -- and loved them for both of those things. He aimed to see the world in all its strangest nooks and crannies, and did a darned good job of accomplishing that aim. He was a person who truly believed what Helen Keller said: "Life is either a grand adventure, or it is nothing." He grabbed that adventure and embraced it.

So, as we gather here in our shock and deep sadness that this man has passed away from all of us and from that grand adventure, far too soon, we should take great solace in the fact that Bob never stopped living his life as he believed it should be lived. On the day he died, and even in the moment he died, all of these bright, clear colors of his life were present -- his family, his love for the Department of Justice and its mission as he was considering his next overseas assignment, and his commitment to the Mydans
adventure of life and to the Colorado mountains. And very few of us are given that gift.

But this was a moment that came far, far too soon, and leaves us all bereft. Judy, Dan and Lindsey, please accept our deepest condolences, and the condolences of people all over the country and even all over the world for your loss. It is our loss as well


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