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Robert Francis Kane

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Photo Justice Robert Francis Kane Passed away peacefully following complications from heart surgery on December 22, 2007 at his daughter's San Mateo home. He was surrounded and seeped in the love, admiration and gratitude of all five of his children, their spouses, his 10 grandchildren, dearest friends and Father Kevin Gaffey. The seventh son of a seventh son, he was born on the Ides of March (15th), 1926 in Denver, CO. He was the youngest of the eight children born to James Hanley Kane, the son of an Irish immigrant and his wife, Helen Mary Gray. After graduating from Burlingame High School in 1944, he enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific Theatre. Upon his return, he attended Menlo College and the University of Southern California. With necessary help from the G.I. Bill, he entered the University of San Francisco Law School in the fall of 1949. He considered the last week of June 1952 to be one of his most blessed as he passed the bar and celebrated the birth of his first child. The scope and breadth of his employment resume was the source of many family jokes. He worked from the age of eight, in jobs that ranged from restacking bowling pins, cleaning ant cans for a Burlingame pesticide company, to a drug store soda jerk and delivery boy. His legal career began in San Francisco in 1952 and continued in Redwood City, primarily with the Ropers firm. In January 1969, Governor Ronald Reagan appointed him to the San Mateo Superior Court. In 1971, Governor Reagan elevated him to the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District. He served as president of the California Judges' Association. In 1979, at the age of 53, he resigned from the bench and returned to the practice of law at the Ropers firm. In 1982, President Reagan selected him to serve as an arbitrator for the United States in a treaty dispute with Poland at The Hague. In 1984, the President appointed him U.S. Ambassador to Ireland where he served for two years. He and his wife Keke hosted President and Mrs. Reagan at the Ambassador's Residence during their 1984 visit to Ireland. Following his tenure as Ambassador, he returned to the Ropers firm until 1994 when he retired from the practice of law and began work as a private mediator, arbitrator, special master and discovery referee. He received numerous honors and distinctions during his lifetime including; induction into both the Burlingame High School Hall of Fame and Athletic Hall of Fame, the Irish Man of the Year Award, St. Thomas More Award and membership to the American College of Trial Lawyers. More valuable than any of these prestigious awards, was the love of his life Keke and the family they created. As he wrote to his grandchildren this year, "As I reflect on the blessings of married life on this our 56th anniversary, I distinctly remember seeing Keke for the first time at 6:30am daily Mass at Our Lady of Angels, Burlingame." His love for her, which began that day, was best demonstrated by the selfless care he provided during her struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He once said integrity was the greatest virtue. While we hesitate to overrule his Honor, we humbly submit that where Bob Kane was concerned integrity was not his greatest virtue but rather an unavoidable result of his goodness, grace, generosity and gratefulness. He was preceded in death by his father James; mother, Helen; brothers, Jack, Jim, John, George, Tom; sister, Mary; brother-in-law, John Burke, and son-in-law, Chris Coogan. He is survived by his wife Mary Catherine "Keke"; brother, Ben; son, Steve and daughter-in-law, Brenda; daughter, Anne; son, Tom and daughter-in-law, Nancy; son, Jim and daughter-in-law, Sandy; daughter, Mary and son-in-law, David; and grandchildren, Sarah, Molly, Kelsey, Kristin, Nolan, Brian, Brody, Riley, Hannah and Robert. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Dec. 29, 2007, 11am at St. Catherine's Catholic Church in Burlingame where Justice Kane was once an altar boy. The family requests that remembrances be sent to: Alzheimer's Assn., 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601-7633.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Dec. 26 to Dec. 27, 2007
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