On Saturday evening, July 8, 2017, Robert Julian Zarbin, Esquire, Age 56, passed away far too soon. He was President and longtime Board member of The Maryland Association of Justice, President of the James C. Cawood Inn of Court, Past Delegate and President of The Council of Presidents of The American Association for Justice, member of The Maryland State Bar Association Board of Governors Premier Trial lawyer and most importantly a wonderful human being whom none of us who knew him will ever forget because it was such a joy to know him.
His obituary, which was widely published, recited his professional history of accomplishments and recognitions including those referenced here and many more.
What my friend, Bob Zarbin’s obituary did not convey were the stories that his many friends and admirers told and at times, illustrated with pictures on social media and at his funeral service. St. Mary of the Assumption School stories, McDonough School stories, Loyola University Maryland stories, Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans stories MAJ stories, AAJ stories, “Top of The Hill” and Ole Towne Inn stories. Simply put, those stories told us that Bob Zarbin was a rare and truly extraordinary human being.
Bob kept his illness and his deteriorating physical condition and appearance a secret for as long as he could, even from some of his closest friends and family. That was his way of shielding us from the pain and melancholy that he didn’t want us to remember him by. Well, he succeeded as he did in almost every endeavor of his life in his own way. All of us will remember Bob Zarbin the way he would want us to —-“larger than life”, “laughter and sunshine wherever he went”; “His laugh was enough to make you smile all day” and my favorite voiced as a follow-up to his brother Dr. Marco Zarbin’s observation that “He had an intuitive understanding of people and a strong sense of justice that enabled him to be a great negotiator and litigator.” That was followed up by one of his friends with the visual of Bob “probably already in heaven negotiating admission for the rest of us.”
What is most striking, however, about all of these accolades, observations and Bob Zarbin stories is their consistency, indeed almost uniformity, from a very diverse following of family and friends from every walk and station in life. These friends and family obviously were not and could not be aware what others were saying. The consistency of their comments was obviously in no way contrived nor even planned or prepared. Rather, this outpouring of affection for our friend was like his humanity – spontaneous and heartfelt.
Bob’s essential humanity and his tremendous capacity to first and foremost care deeply about his wife, Simone, and their young children Gino, age 6 and Ava, age 4, Paralegal and Office Manager, Brenda Goldsmith, and then his friends and other people including his clients who were affected by his personal, political and legal decisions were apparent to all he encountered. We all recognized it and we loved and respected him for that.
When I learned that my friend, Bob Zarbin, would no longer be with us, which is the same time I learned he had been ill, after the fact, I looked for insight to the same source that had provided comfort and consolation to me when others in my family and close friends approached or reached their end—-the book, “Five People You Meet In Heaven” by Mitch Albom, also the author of “Tuesdays with Morrie”. In that book, the lead character “Eddie” dies and goes to Heaven where I’m sure Bob is. There, Eddie meets five people, each of whom teaches him about his life and its relationship to what he styles as the “afterlife”.
The first lesson “Eddie” learns when he gets to Heaven is that we are all connected. “You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.” Robert Julian Zarbin obviously instinctively knew that and lived by it. Bob’s wife, Simone, and their children, Gino and Ava felt it deeply as did his brothers, Dr. Marco Zarbin and Sergio Zarbin and their families. In addition, Bob’s friends, both personal and professional felt it and embraced him and his friendship for it. Those friends included governors, judges, legislators as well as buddies of all races, genders, religions, occupations and regardless of their situation in life producing memorable bonds that will never be forgotten.
All of Bob Zarbin’s family and friends are in varied stories about this great man. Some of those stories are illustrated by pictures or simply visuals embedded in our memories. All have been told many times before and since Bob’s recent death. In turn, each of Bob’s family and friends has his or her own story and Bob Zarbin is in all of them.
For Robert Julian Zarbin, then, our stories are one story and because of the way he lived, it is his story and it continues through us.
Goodbye Bob! Many of our lives were, and still are being shaped by you. WE cannot and will not forget you as we live them out.