George Wright Quick
Bakersfield attorney George Wright Quick died on March 20, 2011 at the age of 66. I knew who George was, of course, having occasionally seen him at or in the vicinity of the courthouse, or the Bar Association’s offices. George was usually slightly hunched over, with a shuffling kind of gait. And he was always dressed in a suit that tended not only to the conservative, but also to the slightly untamed.
George was often accompanied by his wife, Glenna. Lately, that hasn’t been the case. It seems that, some time back, George’s wife slipped into the shadows of her life, and his. Whenever I saw George and his wife together, it was impossible to ignore the careful and ineffably sweet choreography of their life partnership. For many years, one was always to be found where the other happened also to be, in a kind of orbit that revolved around the other. They were a team, a pair of collaborators puzzling over, or parsing out, legal issues, shuffling silently from one engagement, one hearing, one research endeavor to the next, most always in tandem, not usually side by side but together in the brace of a professional and personal life, one in front of the other, sometimes George in the lead, sometimes his wife.
On those few occasions when I was in close proximity to George (on the sidewalk in front of 1415 Truxtun or in the law library), George, never a garrulous soul, was unfailingly polite to me. Yes, sometimes George seemed less than focused on the social niceties of a situation – I do not recall George ever making eye contact with me. Still, George was always the better human being in our brief social transactions. George always spoke to me first. And why? George certainly didn’t strike up a conversation with me because he was “networking” – there was no social cachet or business advantage for George in talking to me. George spoke to me because he was kind. And he always knew far more about my professional activities than I knew about his, not because he trafficked in gossip, but because he paid quiet and humble attention to the goings-on of others who passed him by in the courthouse hallways or stood with him at library counters. George did not impose himself upon our acquaintance when he chatted with me; his inquiries and comments were brief, seemingly cognizant of the time demands placed on all of us. In hindsight, I know now that George’s self-imposed restraint was the mark of someone who is sensitive and well-mannered, finely tuned to the realities of daily life.
George Wright Quick was a good and decent man. He earned his undergraduate degree from Cal State University San Francisco, and his Juris Doctor from Hastings. He was admitted to the Bar in January, 1971. He moved to Bakersfield because his mother decided to move here just as he finished law school. George gave years of service to Kern County’s Democratic Party as a long-time member of the Kern County Central Committee. He loved to go to the Party conventions as a caucus member; served as the local party’s devoted Parliamentarian; and received the coveted Dorothy Donahue award from the local chapter. George’s devotion to, and years of, public service grew out of his commitment to serving justice and humanity in real and concrete ways.
A Google search of George’s name paints the picture of an attorney who was eager to ply his professional trade, the kind of go-getter seemingly incongruent with the public persona I knew. A worker among workers, doing a yeoman’s job, not looking for accolades or flash, just the quiet rewards and satisfactions that often come with a long and steady practice.
My encounters with George were too few and too brief. They were, however, sufficient to convince me that George did not have the kind of ego that made everything all about him, a really remarkable achievement (or gift) in a lawyer. George was kind but, really, it was more than that. He was generous and compassionate, as I discovered when I went mining for more information about this enigma. George routinely put the interests of others before his own, out of a genuine regard for serving others. He genuinely liked people. He had a dry and wonderful wit. By all accounts, George was brilliant, and found the law deeply engaging. His work ethic was impeccable. Although a man of modest means, George took good care of his family and others less fortunate. He gave not only of his funds, but also of his time. He listened well and often; he cultivated his friendships out of affection and regard; and, over the many years, he frequently represented people with no means to pay him.
George is survived by Glenna, his wife of almost 40 years, his adult son and daughter, and five grandchildren. His wife, children, and several grandchildren attended the celebration of George’s life on March 29 at the Bell Tower Club. Jointly hosted by family, friends, and Kern County Bar Association/IDP criminal defense bar, the very large room was filled. There were judges, court staff, law librarians, attorneys, community activists, and former clients in attendance. Friends and family members paid tribute to this remarkable man. George was clearly well-loved, deeply treasured, and widely appreciated.
If, indeed, as the Talmud states, the highest form of wisdom is kindness, George was Solomon. If modesty is the measure of intellect and education, George was extraordinarily gifted. And if consideration and tolerance are the metrics of real caliber, we have lost a man of tremendous stature.
Well done, George.
by Therese M. Foley