(Senate - December 15, 2000)

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[Pages S11907-S11908]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                       AMBASSADOR DAVID HERMELIN

 Mr. ABRAHAM. Mr. President, today I rise to pay tribute to the 
memory of an outstanding leader, a philanthropist who knew no limits, 
and a distinguished public servant whose integrity and decency made him 
a role-model to all who knew him. A few weeks ago, we in the State of 
Michigan mourned the passing of Ambassador David Hermelin. I suppose it 
is a little presumptuous to suggest that only the State of Michigan 
beams with pride in our association with Ambassador Hermelin, for the 
organizations that he led, the political leaders he counseled, and the 
communities to which he dedicated his life, literally span the globe.
  Against that backdrop, I will submit for the Record excerpts of 
eulogies--as they were reported in the Detroit Jewish News--by Rabbi 
Irwin Groner of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Michigan, Brian Hermelin, 
Jon Gundersen, deputy chief of the American Embassy in Norway, and U.S. 
Agriculture Secretary Daniel Glickman.
  But before I submit these eulogies, I would just like to take a 
moment to reflect on the first time I really had a chance to get to 
know Ambassador Hermelin and the impact he had on me. It was shortly 
after President Clinton had nominated him to serve as our nation's top 
diplomatic representative in Norway. As protocol dictates, David 
contacted his U.S. Senators to seek our support. And while David 
Hermelin and I did not always see eye-to-eye on the domestic political 
issues of the day, we agreed to meet to discuss his confirmation 
  While I had heard many things about David before that meeting--about 
all the charitable causes he had led, about his close relationships 
with top government leaders in the United States and Israel, about his 
successful business career--I never could have expected to be drawn to 
the orbit of David's warmth, energy, kindness and wisdom, in the way 
that I was.
  From the moment we met that afternoon in my office, we forged a 
friendship, that developed further during our interactions through his 
Senate confirmation process, when I was proud to testify on his behalf 
and urge my Republican colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee to 
waste no time in ushering this fine man's nomination through the 
  And our friendship even deepened further over time. For even though 
he and I came from opposite sides of the political aisle, I found 
myself seeking his advice and counsel from time to time.
  Sometimes it was his thought provoking perspective on developments in 
this Middle East, or the insights he had gained the being an active 
participant in U.S. foreign policy as Ambassador to Norway. Other times 
it was his advocacy for both the Detroit and American Jewish 
communities, or his tireless philanthropic efforts in Michigan. 
Whatever the topic, no matter when we met, it was impossible to not 
benefit in some way from David Hermelin's wisdom, or his contagious 
energy and passion for life.
  I feel blessed that I knew David Hermelin for the short time that I 
did. I cannot begin to even imagine the scope and depth of impact he 
had on the people closest to him. So my heartfelt sympathies and 
condolences go out to his dedicated and compassionate wife, Doreen, and 
his devoted, caring, and decent children, grandchildren, nieces, and 
nephews, many of whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know as 
  In closing, Mr. President, I would like to refer to the description 
of James Madison, another great American, by one of his biographers, in 
which Madison was summed up this way: ``When you called on him, he was 
always home.''
  Well, I think that's how David Hermelin could be described as well by 
everyone he touched. No matter who it was that called on his help and 
on his leadership--the Jewish community, numerous charitable causes, 
the State of Michigan, the United States Government, the people of 
Norway, the State of Israel and most importantly, his family--whenever 
you called on David Hermelin, he always took your call, and he was 
always ready to lend a hand.
  I am better for having known David Hermelin. He was not only an 
outstanding leader and generous giver in every way possible, but he was 
also the kind of individual everyone would want as a neighbor. He will 
be deeply missed.
  I ask that the above mentioned excerpts be printed in the Record.
  The material follows:

                 Excerpts from the Detroit Jewish News

                   David B. Hermelin, Saying Goodbye

      a beloved leader gets an emotional farewell at Shaarey Zedek

       David Hermelin was remembered by more than 2,500 people 
     whose lives he touched at his Nov. 24 funeral. it was held in 
     Southfield at Congregation Shaarey Zedek--the synagogue he 
     had served as president. Afterwards, some 150 cars formed a 
     procession for the interment at Clover Hill Park Cemetery in 
       Mr. Hermelin, of Bingham Farms, died of brain cancer Nov. 
     22, 2000 at age 63.
       Delivering the eulogy was his friend of 41 years, Shaarey 
     Zedek Rabbi Irwin Groner. Also speaking were Jon Gundersen, 
     deputy chief of the American Embassy in Oslo, Norway, where 
     Mr. Hermelin served as ambassador; U.S. Agriculture Secretary 
     Daniel Glickman; and Mr. Hermelin's son, Brian.
       Speaking first, Gundersen said he has just conveyed to Mr. 
     Hermelin's wife, Doreen, messages from the royal family of 
     Norway, from the U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 
     from the Norwegian ambassador and consul general, from the 
     prime minister of Norway and from the foreign minister.
       ``I've just arrived from Norway, and it seems the entire 
     nation sends to David and Doreen their greatest 
     condolences,'' Gundersen said.
       ``David and Doreen represented the very best of America and 
     what we stand for. Faith, honesty, openness, tolerance, love. 
     David, your embassy family and indeed an entire nation will 
     miss you. You will be in our hearts forever.''
       Glickman, like President Bill Clinton, has known the 
     Hermelins for many years. He shared a letter the president 
     sent to Mrs. Hermelin, which read, in part:
       ``David loved life. And he made sure that everyone around 
     him shared that love. I will always cherish his friendship 
     and support

[[Page S11908]]

     and remember with gratitude his exceptional service as our 
     ambassador to Norway.
       ``He left the world a better place than he found it. And no 
     one could ask for a finer legacy
       ``Hillary and I are keeping you and your family in our 
     thoughts and prayers.''
       Brian Hermelin then gave an emotional, personal tribute to 
     his father.
       ``The thing about us that made us feel the most special was 
     that he was our dad,'' Brian said. ``Just being able to be 
     with him at the intimate family settings allowed the full 
     bright glow of one of God's brightest lights to shine on us 
     and provided a comfort and security which is irreplaceable.''
       Brian added, ``He just knew how much fun it was to be 
     alive. And he was sure if you were with him, you would know 
     how much fun life could be, too.,
       ``We took such pride in his accomplishments with him,'' 
     Brian said. ``We were all equally amazed at how far and how 
     much he accomplished because we know how he saw himself, just 
     a regular kid from Pasadena [Avenue in Detroit]. He made it 
     all seem so within our reach--the accomplishments, the 
     friends, the admiration, the fun. Just go out there with that 
     positive, can-do attitude and you can have all that, too.''
       Rabbi Groner mourned his friend, whose influence was felt 
     from the sanctuary of the synagogue to the far reaches of the 
     world stage.
       ``When a true leader goes, can he be replaced?'' the rabbi 
     asked. ``Woe is the army that has lost its captain.
       ``We will miss him. He will miss his hearty welcome, he 
     warm laugh, his quick wit, his words of encouragement, his 
     shared exuberance.
       ``When David came into a room, his luminous presence was 
     immediately felt,'' Rabbi Groner added. ``He was so vital, so 
     filled with energy, so magnetic that he seemed 
       ``Once you came to know David, your life changed. You 
     laughed more, you felt more, you cared more, you gave more.
       ``To have known David was to have warmed your hands at the 
     central fire of life.
       ``For David Hermelin, service, benevolence, mitzvot was the 
     very essence of his life,'' said the rabbi.
       ``David gave us a great and blessed gift. He taught us how 
     to dream a glorious dream.''
       Mr. Hermelin is survived by his wife, Doreen; son and 
     daughter-in-law Brian and Jennifer Hermelin; daughters and 
     sons-in-law Marcie and Rob Orley, Karen Hermelin Borman and 
     Mark Borman, Julie Hermelin Frank and Mitchell Frank, 
     Francine Hermelin Levite and Adam Levite; and grandchildren 
     Matthew, Alex, Jason and Olivia Orley, Max and Isabel 
     Hermelin, Asa Levite and Madeline Borman.
       Also suriving are sisters and brother-in-law Henrietta 
     Hermelin Weinberg, Lois Shiffman and Terran and Roger Leemis; 
     brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Eugene and Suzanne Curtis, 
     Reggie and Dr. Robert Fisher and Mitchell Curtis; and mother-
     in-law Anna Curtis.