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Penfield W. Tate III

Lawyer and state government official Penfield W. Tate III was born on May 19, 1956 to Ellen Mildred Tate and Penfield W. Tate II. Tate grew up on military bases while his father served in the U.S. Army. His family eventually settled in Boulder, Colorado, where Tate’s father became the city’s first African American city councilman and mayor. Tate earned his B.A. degree in sociology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1978, and his J.D. degree from Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. in 1981.

Upon graduation from law school, Tate obtained a position as a trade regulation attorney with the Denver Regional Office of the Federal Trade Commission. In 1984, Tate left the Federal Trade Commission and joined the law firm of Trimble, Tate & Nulan, founded by his father seven years earlier. He became a partner with the firm in 1988. In 1990, Tate returned to public service in an administrative role at Denver Mayor Federico Peña’s office, but rejoined Trimble, Tate & Nulan in 1991 once Mayor Pena’s term ended. The following year, he and his father founded the law firm of Tate & Tate, P.C. Shortly after founding the new firm, Tate took a leave of absence to become executive director of the Colorado Department of Administration. In 1994, he was elected to the vice chairmanship of the Colorado Democratic Party, which he resigned in 1996 during his successful run for Colorado State House. The following year, he was elected to the the Colorado State House of Representatives, representing the 8th District. In 2000, Tate was elected to serve the 33rd District in the Colorado State Senate. In 2003, he resigned from this position to run for Mayor of Denver, but was defeated. He returned to public finance law practice, and joined the law firm of Kutak Rock in 2015, where he represented public entities, lenders, and underwriters engaged in financing essential public improvements, and advised local and state governments. He was also a frequent panelist on the political talk show Colorado Inside Out.

Tate has served as a trustee of the Colorado Children’s Chorale and on the board of Denver Water, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. He was named the 2004 Father of the Year by the National Father’s Day Coalition and the American Diabetes Association.

Penfield W. Tate III was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 25, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.062

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/26/2016

Last Name

Tate

Maker Category
Middle Name

W.

Schools

Colorado State University

Antioch School of Law

Boulder High School

Charles S. Deneen Elementary School

University Hill Elementary School

First Name

Penfield

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

TAT04

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Grand Cayman

Favorite Quote

The World Is Run By Those Who Show Up.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

5/19/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

BBQ Ribs

Short Description

State government official Penfield W. Tate III (1956 - ) founded the law firm of Tate & Tate before serving as a leader of the Colorado Democratic Party, a Colorado State Senator, and a Colorado State Representative.

Employment

Federal Trade Commission

Trimble, Tate and Nulan, P. C.

Office of the Mayor of Denver

Tate & Tate, P.C.

Colorado Department of Administration

Colorado State Senate

Colorado House of Representatives

Kutak Rock

Trimble, Tate and Nulan, P.C.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Penfield W. Tate III's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the origins of his name

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about where his father attended law school

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers his father's mayoral campaign in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his father's political career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his parent's personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about handling his father's notoriety as mayor of Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers living in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls living in Germany

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about experiencing racism while attending school in Germany

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III describes the discrimination on U.S. military bases

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III reflects upon his upbringing on military bases

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his community in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III shares his early career aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his experience at University Hill Intermediate School in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the role of religion in his upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers attending Boulder High School in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his decision to attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his father's role as a human rights executive

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls his decision to pursue a career in law

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his experience at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls his experience at the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers being hired at the Federal Trade Commission in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his work with the Federal Trade Commission

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III describes the importance of regulations

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers joining Trimble, Tate, Nulan, Evans and Holden P.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his experience working with his father

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about a memorable case

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers his work with Denver Mayor Federico Pena

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers the inauguration of Wellington Webb as mayor of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his daughter, Elleana Tate

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers his position as executive director of Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his work with the Democratic Party

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers being elected to the Colorado House of Representatives

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the restructuring of his law firm, Trimble, Tate, Nulan, Evans and Holden P.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III reflects upon his efforts in the Colorado House of Representatives

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his legislative work with ownership of medical records in Colorado

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls his advocacy for the LGBT community

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III describes the influence of religion on state politics in Colorado

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Penfield W. Tate III describes the development of the marijuana industry in Colorado

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his role in the Colorado State Senate

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls his decision to run for mayor of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers his mayoral bid in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his role in the Denver Board of Water Commissioners

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about water distribution and supply in Colorado

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers joining Kutak Rock LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his political commentary

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III shares his thoughts on potential future political endeavors

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the 2016 Presidential Election

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about third party candidates

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the fate of immigrants protected under the DREAM Act

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III reflects upon his time growing up in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

8$4

DATitle
Penfield W. Tate III talks about his legislative work with ownership of medical records in Colorado
Penfield W. Tate III describes his role in the Denver Board of Water Commissioners
Transcript
But, as I look at my legislative career probably the most rewarding bill I carried was one that was brought to me by a number of constituents. A number of my constituents including one of my personal friends came to me and asked me to carry a bill dealing with medical records. And the law in Colorado at the time was if you are a patient you were entitled to get copies of your medical records from a hospital or a medical provider, but they had the right to and own the original records, which when you think about it you may think that's okay, but the way the law was being interpreted is that included things like X rays and most importantly mammograms. And the, the group of constituents who came to me were all women who were breast cancer survivors, and that struck a chord with me because by that time my mother [Ellen Cooper Tate] had become a breast cancer survivor. She had been detected with breast cancer. She went through radiation and chemo and treatment, and she had to come to Denver [Colorado] for her treatment. She couldn't receive it in Boulder [Colorado], so she would catch the bus every day during the treatment times. I watched her lose her hair. I watched her fingernails and toenails turn black. I watched her lose a lot of weight, but, but she survived it. And what the ladies told me was that when you take a mammogram you have the original film and it's your baseline and so when you do successive mammograms they always compla- compare this year's to your baseline to see if anything has changed. And what was happening is health care providers in Colorado, if women changed jobs or health insurance weren't giving them their original mammograms. They would give them copies, but the copies were so poor that the, the new treating physician couldn't read them and couldn't compare them to see if there was a problem. So, I passed a law and it was passed on a bipartisan basis. Actually it was a piece of legislation and when I ran it and Republicans, particularly Republican women, saw what the state of the law was they got outraged. And when the Colorado medical association [Colorado Medical Society] rose up to object to my bill, they got even further incensed and so I passed the legislation and what we did was we made a change that said if you are a patient and you want your original records no matter what they are you're, the treating entity whether it's a hospital or clinic or doctor has to give you your records. Now you have to pay for them to make a set of copies, but you own your original records and you can walk out the door with them. And, and the two things we gave was you have to pay for the records and the other thing, and then I thought it was fair was if you're a patient and you demand your original records and you get them, if you lose them, damage them, destroy them, you can't go after the provider who gave you your records, and, and I thought that was fair. No one should be able to file a claim against a doctor saying I lost my records in a fire, I'm suing you because the records should have shown something. No, if you take responsibility for getting your records, you're completely responsible for them. So, that was probably the, the piece of legislation that was the most rewarding for me.$Now in 2005 you were appointed by John Hickenlooper to the Denver water board [Denver Board of Water Commissioners], which sounds like a torture (laughter), but it's not, it's not that right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) (Laughter) No it's not that kind of water boarding. And, and Denver [Colorado] is interesting you know people, you'll hear a saying out west that whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting, so water was a precious commodity here. And what happened in Denver over a hundred years ago is the founders of the Denver water company [Denver City Water Company] and one other water company [Denver Union Water Company] merged and formed the Denver Water Department [Denver Water], but the city decided, and I think appropriately so, to, to take the whole issue of water and water management out of the political arena. So rather than keep it as a department of city government where it could be politicized by city council votes and things of that nature, they created it as a separate and autonomous department of city government, so there are five commissioners that run the department, we're appointed by the mayor, but once we are appointed the mayor can't remove us; we serve six year terms and there's no limit on how many terms we can serve. So, yes John appointed me in 2005 and I've been on the board ever since and I'm currently president of the board. This is my second term as president of the board of water commissioners.$$Okay now this is as you indicated is very important for Denver. It's a major export of the City of Denver right is water.$$Right.$$Yeah.$$Yeah, well, well you know what has happened over the years is when this started all of the customers of Denver water were inside the city. But, as the region has grown, literally half of our customers are outside of the City and County of Denver. And on top of that, Denver's water supply comes from the Western Slope, the mountains. In Colorado, most of the water supply for the Front Range communities along the eastern side of the mountains it's basically snow melt from snow that accumulates in the mountains, you know melts, goes into reservoirs, and then gets diverted across the Continental Divide to the Front Range for, for city use. And so that's what we have in Denver. And, and we have senior water rights because the city is so old and has been established much longer than other parts of the state, so, and Colorado has an antiquated system of water law that you don't see in a lot of other places where it's literally first in time, first in right; and Denver is first in time in a lot of instances.

The Honorable Jolette Westbrook

Attorney Jolette Westbrook was born in 1956 in Buffalo, New York; her parents operated a news agency. Westbrook attended Public School #93, Public School #74, and West Hertle Middle School. At St. Joseph’s High School, Westbrook’s role model was Reverend Joseph Moore; she graduated in 1974 and entered Russell Sage College. There, Westbrook was elected student government president, played in the state volleyball championship, and traveled to England. Graduating with her B.S. degree in criminal science in 1978, Westbrook entered Northeastern University Law School’s Cooperative Program and worked as an intern with Greater Boston Legal Services; she earned her J.D. degree in 1981.

Westbrook served as clerk for the Honorable Charles Grabau, associate justice of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1981. In 1982, Westbrook joined the Supreme Judicial Court Bar in Massachusetts and began working for the National Institute for Paralegal Studies as an instructor in the areas of legal research and writing, corporations, and family law. Westbrook joined the firm of Dawkins and Quarles in 1983, where she worked in the area of juvenile law. Westbrook became managing attorney, supervising the appellate work and case loads of attorneys and paralegals for the Southeastern Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (SMLAC). Later, Westbrook joined the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Consumer Affairs as Director of the State’s Lemon Law Arbitration Program. After 1991, Westbrook worked with the Department of Public Utilities and became the Director of the Energy Facilities Siting Division of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In April of 2009, Westbrook was appointed Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities by Governor Deval Patrick.

Westbrook was admitted to the United States Supreme Court bar membership in 1996. In 2005, she was appointed a member of the Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Committee. The recipient of numerous awards, Westbrook was an avid tennis player, and coach of youth basketball and soccer.

Accession Number

A2007.065

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/13/2007

Last Name

Westbrook

Maker Category
Schools

St. Joseph’s High School

P.S. 74

West Hertle Middle School

Russell Sage College

Northeastern University School of Law

First Name

Jolette

Birth City, State, Country

Buffalo

HM ID

WES04

Favorite Season

Thanksgiving

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Nothing Works Unless You Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

12/10/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Plymouth

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon (Wild)

Short Description

Lawyer and state government official The Honorable Jolette Westbrook (1956 - ) served as a director, and later a commissioner, of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. In addition to her work in public office, Westbrook had a long and successful career as an attorney, which also included working as an instructor for the National Institute for Paralegal Studies.

Employment

Clerkship with the Honorable Charles Grabau

Dawkins and Quarles

Division of Employment Security

Southeastern Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation

Department of Telecommunications and Energy

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Jolette Westbrook's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook shares a stories from her mother's childhood in Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her parents' education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls how her parents valued education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes the sights and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls her childhood hobbies

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers family outings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls her early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers P.S. 74, Hamlin Park School in Buffalo, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls P.S. 94, West Hertel Academy in Buffalo, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls her neighborhood in Buffalo, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers Mount St. Joseph's Academy in Buffalo, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls her activities in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers her senior class trip to Brazil

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls the influence of Reverend Joseph Moore

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her early interest in theater

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls her admission to Russell Sage College

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers organizing a sit-in

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes the advantages of women's colleges

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her extracurricular activities at Russell Sage College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls her decision to study criminal science

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her decision to attend law school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls her challenges at Northeastern University School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls working in legal services in Midland, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls the law firm of Dawkins and Quarles

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers litigating a child abuse case

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers representing a solicitation case

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook talks about the juvenile court system, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook talks about the juvenile court system, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook recalls leaving Dawkins and Quarles

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes the Southeastern Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her role at the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes the petitions to the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook talks about environmental impact issues

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook talks about alternative energy sources

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her hopes for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her organizational involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her parenting philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers her experiences in Malawi, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers her experiences in Malawi, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jolette Westbrook narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
The Honorable Jolette Westbrook remembers Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts
The Honorable Jolette Westbrook talks about the juvenile court system, pt. 1
Transcript
So I decided on law school, and I chose Northeastern [Northeastern University School of Law] in Boston [Massachusetts] primarily because of their co-op program. And what I mean by that is, after going to school from September, I think we had to go through August. Then we could take three months and work in the field, so the class was split in two. Half would do internships, and half would stay in school. And we did that for the remainder of law school. So it was about a year and a half of in school for three months, doing internships for three months. And that helped me get a feel for the type of law that I wanted to practice. And so that was, that was a good fit for me. I did my--some of my co-ops I, I worked at the parole board in New York State. And the one that really, I think, shaped my early career was with legal services. I worked with Greater Boston Legal Services [Boston, Massachusetts] during my internships. And there are courtrooms in the state, at least back then--I don't know if they're still applicable--whereby if you had taken certain courses, you could go into court and work on certain types of cases, as long as there was a supervising attorney. And so I, I worked on divorce cases. I think that's primarily what I did. And I liked being in the courtroom. But more than that, it was talking with the people I was going to help. And sometimes the stories would be very sad. And even back then it was hard for me to sort of separate my work from my life, to say, listen to maybe what turns out to be horror stories during the day. And then at five o'clock pick up a briefcase and say, oh, well, I can now go to my happy life. That's not the way it worked for me, because there are people who are hurting, people who needed help. And I, I think I remarked earlier in our conversation that I, I knew I wanted to save the world, and I really started off thinking that I could save the world. And the more cases I did in law school and out of law school, the more I realized that I couldn't save the world and that I needed to narrow my sights. And if I could really touch the life of one person, then I was, I've, I've done a good thing. And so that's how my focus of life changed from law school to now. It's, it's like, as much as I would like to save the world, I, I sort of have to pick at it by helping one person. Then maybe I can help two, then three, and I can move. I guess I no longer have the illusion that I can save the world, but I, I do believe that I have helped, and, and that does make me feel good.$One day, maybe about six or seven years ago, I was walking in downtown Boston [Massachusetts]. And a woman came up to me with tears in her eyes, and she said, "Do you remember me?" And I, I said something like, "I'm, I'm sorry; your face looks familiar, but I, I can't place you." And she said, "You represented my daughter in juvenile court," and she said, "I just want to thank you." She said, "You provided such a good role model for her that she turned her life around. She graduated from college." And I came back to my office; I closed the door, and I cried. That's the one--it came back to me. I helped at least one person. It, I mean it, it, it may not be a big thing to anyone else, but for me, I was able to take someone by the hand and help them, just like my father [Quinton Westbrook] and mother [Mary Lue Loveless Westbrook] took me by the hand and helped me. And I just wish that, for every young person out there, that there was someone to take them by the hand and help them. I just, this, it's just not enough that's being done in my opinion by those people who have achieved some success in life. And, and that's the thing. In my opinion, you don't have to have a lot of money. You don't have to have a prestigious career. You, you just have to have compassion and know that it's tough out here for the kids. When, when I represented kids in criminal court, what I heard time and time again was, okay, I'm gonna go out; I'm going to get--I'm going to take what I want because if I don't take it, there's no guarantee that in the future, number one, I'm going to be alive to get it.

Spencer Leak, Sr.

Spencer Leak, Sr. was born April 15, 1937, to pioneering Chicago mortician A.R. Leak, an insurance salesman from Arkansas who opened Unity Funeral Home in Chicago in 1933 and A.R. Leak Funeral Chapels in 1938. Leak and his three brothers grew up near 37th and State Streets. Attending Raymond Elementary School, he graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1956. Leak went on to Wilson Junior College, and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 1959.

Serving in the United States Army in 1960, Leak was stationed in West Germany. He was married briefly to R&B singer Mavis Staples, and later became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1964, Leak joined 10,000 activists led by his father and Reverend Clay Evans to protest the racially segregated Oak Woods Cemetery. That same year, A.R. Leak Funeral Home would open its doors to thousands who wanted to view the body of singing legend Sam Cooke. Leak became president and funeral director of Leak and Sons Funeral Chapel in 1970, assuming a major role in running the family business. He returned to school, earning his B.S. degree from Daniel Hale Williams College in 1979 and his M.S. degree in criminal justice from Chicago State University in 1981. Leak then held a series of positions in public service: Consumer Affairs Chief, Illinois Attorney General (1982-1985); Executive Director, Cook County Department of Corrections (1987-1991); Deputy Chief Inspector-General, Illinois Secretary of State (1991-1993); Manager, Illinois Vehicle Services (1993-1999); Deputy Director, District 1, Illinois Department of Corrections (1993-1999); and Commissioner, Illinois Human Rights Commission (1999-present). Since 1993, Leak has served as President and CEO of Leak and Sons Funeral Home. He also coordinates the radio program, It's Time Truth Speaks, on WGCI-FM.

Leak lives in Chicago with his wife, Henrietta Leak, to whom he has been married for several decades; they have three sons.

Accession Number

A2004.004

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/21/2004

Last Name

Leak

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Hyde Park Academy High School

Benjamin W. Raymond Elementary School

Chicago State University

Daniel Hale Williams College

Worsham College of Mortuary Science

Kennedy–King College

First Name

Spencer

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

LEA02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Memphis, Tennessee

Favorite Quote

The Most Powerful Force in the Universe is an Idea Whose Time has Come.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

4/15/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Chips

Short Description

Funeral director and state government official Spencer Leak, Sr. (1937 - ) was president and CEO of Leak and Sons Funeral Home and has worked in a series of government public service positions.

Employment

Leak & Sons Funeral Home

Illinois Department of Consumer Affairs

State of Illinois

Cook County Department of Corrections

Illinois Secretary of State

Illinois Vehicle Services

Illinois Department of Corrections

Illinois Human Rights Commission

WGCI Radio

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Spencer Leak, Sr.'s interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Spencer Leak, Sr.'s interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Spencer Leak, Sr. explains how his parents met and moved to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his father's first marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the origins of his father's interest in the funeral home business

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Spencer Leak, Sr. lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his childhood in Chicago, Illinois' Bronzeville neighborhood, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his childhood in Chicago, Illinois' Bronzeville neighborhood, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his experience at Benjamin W. Raymond Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his teacher at Benjamin W. Raymond Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about growing up, his interest in sports, and working in the family funeral home business

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about Ida B. Wells Homes and other public housing projects

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his family's move from the Bronzeville to Hyde Park in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the difference between Englewood High School and Hyde Park High School in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his classmates and teachers at Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes in high school his interest in girls and working full time in the family funeral home business

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his focus as a high school student of working in the family funeral home business

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his experience at Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Spencer Leak, Sr. explains the funeral home business and the importance of ministers

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Spencer Leak, Sr. recalls Emmett Till's public viewing at A.A. Rayner Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois in 1955, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. recalls Emmett Till's public viewing at A.A. Rayner Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois in 1955, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes use of the names of the deceased on voting lists in Cook County, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes public inquests conducted at funeral homes by the Cook County, Illinois coroner's office

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his experience in the U.S. Army in West Germany during the early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his marriage to R&B legend Mavis Staples and his family's church affiliations

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the role that funeral homes played in providing courtesy limousine service to African American celebrities and public figures

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Spencer Leak, Sr. explains the history of Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois and the 1964 protest against its discriminatory burial policies

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Spencer Leak, Sr. remembers chauffeuring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his trips to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his interactions with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while chauffeuring him around Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s trip to Chicago, Illinois in summer 1966

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes the Nation of Islam's businesses in Chicago, Illinois' and the Chatham neighborhood during the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his studies at Daniel Hale Williams University and Chicago State University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the government positions he held in the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. lists shares his views on the prison industrial complex in Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his relationship with inmates at the Cook County Department of Corrections in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. recalls dealing with Jeff Fort, leader of the Blackstone Rangers, when he was an inmate at the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC)

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his attempts at controlling the use of profanity at the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC)

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the end of his tenure as director of the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC)

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the funeral of Sam Cooke at A.R. Leak Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about Willie "The Wimp" Stokes, Jr.'s funeral at A.R. Leak Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Spencer Leak, Sr. comments upon gun violence in Chicago, Illinois' African American youth population

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his retirement plans

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Spencer Leak, Sr. lists his sons

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. comments upon A.A. "Sammy" Rayner's political party affiliation

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

1$1

DATitle
Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his interactions with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while chauffeuring him around Chicago, Illinois
Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his relationship with inmates at the Cook County Department of Corrections in Chicago, Illinois
Transcript
Now, what was [Reverend] Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] like, as from the point of view of the chauffeur and the assistant and the gopher and all of that?$$In that personal--you know, I watched him with the rallies and I watched him with the press conferences where he was the Dr. King that we all know you know, dynamic and very, you know, uniquely qualified to respond to any type of interrogation. But from a personal, he was very comical, he liked to joke a lot. And you know, we're talking about a guy who was--I guess I was nineteen; he had to be twenty-seven, twenty-eight years old. So we're talking about a young guy, you know, a young man, you know, with the weight of the world thrust upon him. But at the same time, he was just a guy who young. Of course, he had a family. But he was just a very personable person, the kind of guy you really could get to know, and you would enjoy being around. And he was a man's man, you know, he liked the things that all young men like. And you know, he was aware of the fact that women, you know, were, you know, swooned and were attracted to him because of his position. And so, he was a, you know, he was just a young guy mainly. We just thought of him really as one of the guys. But then you separate that instantly once he began to speak or involved in negotiations as far as the Civil Rights Movement was concerned. So, very mature beyond the years. But then when you get him with the cameras off, and then he was a very just warm individual, great human being, great person to know. I count it as really a high point in my life, being able to chauffeur him, and to really be a gopher for him, holding his coat and selling books and things like that. I just count it as really a pleasure, and I recall those days very fondly to my children and to others that I know.$$Is there any particular story that you can relate to us about Dr. King that you know, might add some color to that?$$Other than--I guess I can remember--I was his first trip to Chicago [Illinois], we were going to and fro throughout the city with the police escort and fifty, sixty, seventy miles an hour all throughout the city. And I recall looking at him through the rearview mirror as we were driving. And he was, he was holding on for dear life (laughter). And when he got to a destination, a particular destination, he would always, you know, I could see a sigh of relief on his face, as if he's, "Hey, I'm glad to," you know. But and he'd always in that big, great voice of his, he would say to me, "Boy, you sure can drive." (Laughter) And he would always say that. (Laughter) I think he was so glad to get to his destination. Because you know, we would drive--I considered myself at that age a professional driver because I'd driven ambulances and funeral cars. But it would, it got to be sort of hairy, you know, at moments, you know, going through the traffic. But we got him safe and sound to his destination without any incidents. And he was very--not only he was thankful for my father's [Andrew Leak, Sr.] friendship to him and allowing me to work, you know, for him as his chauffeur or whatever while he was in Chicago. And every time he came back, we were his, he just expected a car from [A.R.] Leak Funeral Home [later, Leak & Sons Funeral Homes, Chicago, Illinois] to be at his service.$I want to ask you about being director of the Cook County Jail [Cook County Department of Corrections]. Now, you did that for four years.$$Yes.$$That seems to be out of these political jobs, the biggest job.$$Yeah, I would say it was the most significant opportunity for me, working in the criminal justice system. And I was fortunate, in that Sheriff [Jim] O'Grady, who appointed me, allowed me to have full run of the jail. He never interfered with my running my jail. He just always wanted to be cognizant of the things that I was doing, to be kept informed, so that he would be able to respond when the press inquired of something that I was doing that was considered controversial in the administration of the jail. But it was a very rewarding experience for me, in that I had never run a penal institution. It was a--and so, they, the feedback when I was appointed was, hey, here's a funeral director becoming the director of one of the toughest jails in America. (Laughter) And they were wondering how, well, how would I be able to come by? And the sheriff, I remember when I first was appointed, and actually, he was a newly elected sheriff. So, we both went on a tour of the jail. And as you know, Superintendent O'Grady, he was the superintendent of Chicago Police Department prior to becoming the sheriff of Cook County [Illinois]. So therefore, he knew a lot of the officers at the jail. And they had relationships not only with them in particular, but their families, who were police officers under Sheriff O'Grady. So, as we went to the jail--we laughed about this afterwards. All of the officers were coming up to the sheriff wanting to talk to him and meet him. And then all of the inmates were coming up to me, because I had buried in their families, and they knew me from my, you know, from the funeral home [A.R. Leak Funeral Home, later, Leak & Sons Funeral Homes, Chicago, Illinois]. And so, he said, "Hey, I think I got the right guy for the job. You know all the inmates and I know all the officers." (Laughter) I had a relationship with those young people because of the funeral home because we had served their families. So therefore, my name was known to them, and therefore I had a relationship to them that a seasoned correctional administrator would not have had. And consequently, that helped me in running the jail because of the fact that I wanted to be a hands-on director, and I wanted to be inside those cell blocks on a day to day basis, engaging these young people as to why they were there and what caused them to be there and what they wanted to do with their lives. Did they want to be career criminals and things of that nature. And then we got into the whole drug culture. And so, consequently, I was able to work with these young people in a way that a seasoned warden or jail administrator would not have had the opportunity to do.

The Honorable Monica Stewart

Monica Faith Stewart was born on September 3, 1952, in Chicago, Illinois, to Clarence and Lois Stewart. She graduated in 1975 from Vassar College with a degree in history. Stewart is also a graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Stewart first got involved with politics during Ralph Metcalfe's campaign for United States Congress. Then in 1977, Stewart ran for office for the first time. She ran for Alderman for Chicago's 8th Ward and won. Stewart was also a part of Harold Washington's 1983 mayoral campaign. Stewart later had a falling out with Harold Washington which symbolizes her independent thinking as a politician.

In 1981, Stewart was sworn in as a State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly, where she served on the Executive and Public Utilities Committees. Stewart was also part of the Rape Study Commission. Since her first visit to South African as an international observer for the 1994 election that made Nelson Mandela president, she has served as the Director of the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment in that country, providing consultation for the public and private sectors. Stewart was also appointed to the South African law project in 2000.

Stewart has also lectured in public administration and was director of Policy and Development for the North Central Regional Education Laboratory. Stewart has served on the board of directors of the Peace Museum and the Paul Hall Boys Club.

Accession Number

A2001.084

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/24/2001

Last Name

Stewart

Maker Category
Middle Name

Faith

Organizations
First Name

Monica

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

PITS021

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago, Illinois

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/3/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

State representative and state government official The Honorable Monica Stewart (1952 - ) was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1981, where she served on the Executive and Public Utilities Committees. Since 1994, Stewart has served as the director of the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment in South Africa.

Employment

Chicago City Council

Illinois General Assembly

Favorite Color

Peach

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Monica Faith Stewart interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Monica Faith Stewart lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Monica Faith Stewart recalls her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Monica Faith Stewart remembers her mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Monica Faith Stewart lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Monica Faith Stewart recounts her childhood experiences of race and segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Monica Faith Stewart reflects on her childhood personality, influences, and aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Monica Faith Stewart recounts her experiences at Vassar College

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Monica Faith Stewart recalls her first involvement in a political campaign

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Monica Faith Stewart remembers her run for alderman of Chicago's 8th Ward

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Monica Faith Stewart explains her decision to run for the Illinois State Assembly

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Monica Faith Stewart outlines her experiences in the Illinois State Assembly

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Monica Faith Stewart recalls the issues that defined her term as Illinois State Representative

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Monica Faith Stewart discusses her involvement in the Black Caucus and "Catfish Row"

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Monica Faith Stewart opines on independent political movement in the Black community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Monica Faith Stewart remembers specific challenges she faced as a female State Representative

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Monica Faith Stewart remembers Corneal Davis

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Monica Faith Stewart opines on the importance of state legislatures

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Monica Faith Stewart shares her opinion of the 'Pioneers in the Struggle' project

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Monica Faith Stewart recalls the balance of isolation and camaraderie in the Illinois Assembly

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Monica Faith Stewart recounts her participation in the 1983 Harold Washington campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Monica Faith Stewart discusses the aftermath of her falling-out with Harold Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Monica Faith Stewart recalls her appointment to the South Africa law project

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Monica Faith Stewart explains how she became involved with South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Monica Faith Stewart discusses her current work in Illinois and South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Monica Faith Stewart recalls her initial sense of isolation in South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Monica Faith Stewart shares her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Monica Faith Stewart considers her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Monica Faith Stewart discusses black politicians responsibilities to constituents