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David Marshall Borden

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David Marshall Borden Obituary

The family of Justice David Marshall Borden is saddened but honored to announce his passing, at the age of seventy-nine, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was a wonderful man who spent his entire life working to do the right thing and inspiring others to do the same. Justice Borden - more affectionately known as David, Dave, Dad, Grandpa and Grampsie - leaves us after an extraordinary life and distinguished career as marked by achievement as it is by depth. David was born and raised in Hartford where he played football at Weaver High School, good enough to start at quarterback but, thankfully for the legal community, not good enough to pursue much further. Bordens are quick of mind but somewhat slow of foot. David graduated from Amherst College and Harvard Law School with high honors and he first entered the professional world in 1958 in then Senator John F. Kennedy's Washington office. Dave made the best move of his entire life when he asked Judith Holland to marry him in 1962, despite some minor culinary misgivings. Judy was his muse, best friend, inspiration, tether, confidant, relentless rock and the love of his life until the day he passed. David moved into private law practice under the shingle of Borden and Borden with his father, Harold, in 1962. In 1966, Dave and Judy gave birth to their first child and named him Douglas Lawrence, a name that puzzled both sets of Jewish grandparents. In 1968 another son, Thomas Matthew, arrived still somewhat puzzling but at least there were Thomases and Matthews in the New Testament. Tommy would stand in his crib yelling every afternoon until Dad came home from work and calmly told him about his day. David was the principal architect of the 1969 Connecticut Penal Code, a set of laws he would end up spending much of the rest of his life applying and interpreting. In 1970, daughter Katherine Elizabeth was born and the Borden puzzle was complete. Dad donned baby blue footie pajamas and performed the role of Michael Darling in the Morley Elementary School parent teacher musical production of "Peter Pan", bringing down the house with a rousing rendition of "I Won't Grow Up!" He followed that with an uncanny performance as Uncle Albert in "Mary Poppins", knocking "I Love To Laugh" out of the auditorium. Dave and Judy threw great cast parties. In 1977, David first became known as Judge Borden, with an appointment by Governor Ella Grasso to the Connecticut Court of Common Pleas, a court that was absorbed into the Connecticut Superior Court the following year. Six years later, Governor William O'Neill appointed Judge Borden as one of the original five judges to sit on the Connecticut Appellate Court. Judge Borden wrote that court's first majority decision, at four pages the briefest decision he ever drafted, colleagues might even say by a longshot. In 1990, Governor O'Neill appointed Judge Borden to the Connecticut Supreme Court, where Justice Borden served for seventeen distinguished years, including his final year as Acting Chief Justice. By the time he retired in 2007, the breadth of his legal and judicial experience had few rivals. Justice Borden felt a deep responsibility as a custodian of the law and he took his work as seriously as anything in his life. He also knew that life was not all for seriousness. His close friend and colleague, Justice Richard Palmer often recounts a story from the high court that illustrates Justice Borden's marriage of rigor and wit. During arguments for one case, Justice Borden launched into an elaborate hypothetical, sub-hypothetical and meta-hypothetical that lasted all of ten minutes, leaving the entire room exhausted. At the conclusion, the young bewildered attorney replied wryly, "Can you repeat the question?" Borden deadpanned, "I'm sorry, you're out of time." David Borden was an active community servant and advocate. He sat on numerous boards of directors including that of the Justice Education Center for twenty-eight years, and he was a board director for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving until his passing. He received the Raymond E. Baldwin Public Service Award in 1997. Dad was particularly proud of his work as chair of the Connecticut General Assembly's Eyewitness Identification Task Force, a task force he was instrumental in creating. A firm, lifelong believer in the power of love and commitment, Justice Borden had the honor of performing the wedding ceremonies of all three of his children, as well as those of many relatives and close friends. Dad loved hiking New Hampshire's White Mountains and the Appalachian Trail hut system. He read voraciously, with a special interest in non-fiction. He was always there in the stands, sidelines or audience for his children and kissed us before bed every night. Judy and David enjoyed theater, movies, taking long walks and traveling together all over the world. The Boston Red Sox renaissance in the 2000s was one of the most exciting, satisfying and surprising eras of Grandpa's life, after seven long decades of pain and frustration. Governor David Borden was named Connecticut Governor of Red Sox Nation in 2008, but he respectfully declined because of the potential impropriety of an active Appellate Court Judge Trial Referee endorsing a professional sports team, even though he had been doing just that, and loudly, for his entire life. Grampsie had crinkly smiling eyes. High technology furiously flummoxed him to no end. He preferred hugs to handshakes. Dad played classical piano beautifully, despite having only nine and a half fingers. And he loved to laugh. David Marshall Borden is survived by his: wife of fifty-three years, Judy; his older brother, Walter; sons Doug and Tom; daughter Katherine; daughters-in-law Tara Gordon and Amy Hoffmann; son-in-law Bruce Perkins; and grandchildren Brooks, Mason, Sebastian, Poppy and Maisy. We all miss him dearly. In lieu of flowers, family, friends and inspired strangers are invited to make a donation to a fund created in Justice Borden's honor at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. A private memorial and burial will be held by his family. David Marshall Borden worked tirelessly for justice and always tried to do the right thing. The end wasn't kind to him, but he was kind to the end. Rest in peace. Go Sox!

Published in The Hartford Courant from Aug. 9 to Aug. 10, 2016
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