Pennsylvania Chief Justice Max Baer was honored in a public memorial service at Duquesne University on October 4, 2022. A native of Pittsburgh, Chief Justice Baer earned his Juris Doctor from Duquesne in 1975.
Among those in attendance were Chief Justice Baer’s family and personal friends, all Justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, judges from courts across the Commonwealth, Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf, legislators, court staff, and Disciplinary Board Members.
Rabbi Mark Mahler of Temple Emanuel of South Hills offered a prayer to open the service, noting that, in the Jewish tradition, “when a person dies between these holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur . . . it is symbolic of the person’s exceptional virtues.” He affirmed, “Surely, how true this is [in] the case of Max Baer.”
Other speakers included Chief Justice Debra Todd; Duquesne University President Ken Gormley; Justice Kevin Dougherty; President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas; Dr. Peter J. Davis, pediatrician and Chief Anesthesiologist at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh; and Chief Justice Baer’s sons, Benjamin and Andrew Baer.
Chief Justice Todd remarked, “Max’s passing is a tremendous loss to our judiciary and to our Commonwealth. His absence creates a terrible void which cannot easily be filled.” She spoke of his collegiality, mentorship, and passion for the legal profession. Reflecting on Chief Justice Baer’s love for family, Justice Dougherty noted his colleague’s unwavering devotion to his own family and the value he placed on family in our communities.
After reading Linda Ellis’ poem “The Dash”, President Judge Clark articulated Chief Justice Baer’s myriad accomplishments in the Allegheny County Court Family Division and his innovative practices in juvenile and family justice. She referenced his many reforms including Pennsylvania’s Children’s Roundtable Initiative and its biennial Summit, the Children's Fast Track rule, and several family engagement initiatives.
A longtime friend of Chief Justice Baer, President Gormley remarked, “[Chief Justice Baer] reveled in lifting others up.” Gormley expressed Baer’s immense pride in Justice Debra Todd’s historic appointment as Pennsylvania’s first woman Chief Justice, sharing that Baer was “certain that she would set a new bar of excellence.”
Dr. Davis asserted that Chief Justice Baer lived life to the fullest while Chief Justice Baer’s sons, Benjamin and Andrew, closed the service, recalling loving memories of the many lessons, jokes, and values that their father imparted on them, a testament to his dedication to family.
The memorial service was livestreamed by Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). A replay of the livestream is available for viewing.