51 RI Bar J., No. 3, Pg. 7 (November, 2002). Remembering Justice John P. Bourcier - Remembering My Mentor.

AuthorJoseph F. Penza, Jr., Esq.

Rhode Island Bar Journal

Volume 51.

51 RI Bar J., No. 3, Pg. 7 (November, 2002).

Remembering Justice John P. Bourcier - Remembering My Mentor

Remembering Justice John P. Bourcier - Remembering My MentorJoseph F. Penza, Jr., Esq.It was a summer ritual that the four of us, John Bourcier, Paul Bordieri (John's former partner), Renn Olenn (my partner) and I, anticipated with great enthusiasm.

A time when we were able to put our busy schedules on hold, play a round of golf, but most important, talk about the good old days.A week before this year's round, I received a call from John's wife's nurse. John would not be able to make it this year, she advised. He was in the hospital for minor surgery on his leg. He sent his regards and was looking forward to next year's get-together.

We still played golf on August 14th and reminisced how year after year, John would tell the same jokes, with a slightly different twist each time, and how we always laughed even though we had heard them so many times. Of course, with John, the delivery was often funnier than the punch line.

The day following our golf outing, I was in my office after everyone had gone home. I decided to give John a call to see how he was doing. An unfamiliar voice answered the telephone. I asked for John. His youngest daughter, Norma Jean, came to the telephone.

Norma, this is Joe Penza, I am just checking to see how your dad is doing. Not well, she said trying to hold back the tears. I thought it was just a minor surgery on his leg? Joe, there is a lot more to it.

No further explanation was forthcoming and I thought it inappropriate to pry. Tell him we are thinking of him, wish him a speedy recovery, and tell him that we will see him soon. By the tone of her voice, I had a sick feeling that the last part of my statement was more wishful thinking than anything else.

It came as no great shock when I received word the following morning that my friend, my mentor, and one of the state's most respected jurists had passed away less than four hours after I had called his house.

I closed the door to my office, asked my receptionist to hold my calls, shed some tears and began to reflect upon the 30 plus years that I had known John Bourcier. For, other than my parents, no one had done more to shape my career than Judge Bourcier.

I first met John in the summer of 1970 while serving as a...

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