On December 25, 2010, Robert Earl Mansbach, the Chair of this Section from June 2009 to June 2010, passed away after a ten-month battle with cancer. Bob was diagnosed almost a year ago, right after the January 2010 Florida Bar mid-year meeting and Trial Lawyers’ Section Executive Council meeting. It was terribly ironic that Bob would fall ill and find himself in a battle for his life with cancer less than a year after one of his best friends, Glenn Burton, passed away on the eve of the June 2009 Florida Bar meeting. Bob’s tribute to Glenn, which was published in the Summer 2009 Advocate, is also on your table as we celebrate here at the First Annual Trial Lawyers’ Section Summit, a meeting and gathering which was a vision of both Bob and Glenn.
Bob practiced law here in the Orlando area for over twenty-five years, and he was a senior member of the litigation group in the law firm of Zimmerman, Kiser, and Sutcliffe, P.A. He was with the firm since its inception, and I know his many law partners must feel a profound loss with Bob’s passing. Bob had been a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer since 1992, and was A.V. rated by Martindale Hubbel. He was a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the International Association of Defense Counsel, the Florida Defense Lawyers’ Association, the Florida Bar’s Code and Rules of Evidence Committee, the Bar’s Civil Procedure Rules Committee, and finally, a dedicated member of the Executive Council of this Section.
I never had the pleasure of litigating with or against Bob, but from everything I know, he was a tenacious and prepared advocate, who handled all of his cases with the highest of ethical standards. Bob authored and updated the chapter on “Ethics” in this Section’s Second Edition of the Florida Bar’s Florida Medical Malpractice Handbook. (another project and vision of his good friend, Glenn Burton).
Bob was proud to be a lawyer and he loved the profession. He also took pride in giving of himself for the betterment of the profession and this Trial Lawyers’ Section. Bob believed that this Section’s work helped promote civility, ethics, and legal excellence for all lawyers.
Bob loved baseball, his beloved Boston Red Sox, golf with his friends on the Executive Council, and of course, fine gourmet food and wine. We members of the Executive Council were fortunate to have Bob around, as he was a culinary tour de force, and a guiding light at our meetings over the last eight years.
Finally, Bob was a man of strong faith who was at peace with his Lord when his time came on Christmas Day, 2010. He leaves behind his loving wife of 28 years, Daisy, and two beautiful children, daughter Alexandra and son, Christopher. Bob’s selfless dedication to his profession is going to be sorely missed by all lawyers and judges who had the privilege of working with him. More importantly, we have all lost a great friend, father and colleague at the young age of 53 years.
“Our friend and we were invited abroad on a party of pleasure which is to last forever. His chair was ready first and he is gone before us. We could not conveniently start together and why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow and know where to find him.” “Adieu.” Benjamin Franklin, 1756 (upon the death of his older brother, Richard Franklin)
- Clifford C. Higby