A day after learning about the loss of his long-time friend, Richard Freling sits in his Dallas living sharing how he became acquainted with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg long before her appointment.
As a tax attorney, Freling said he first met Ginsburg’s late husband Marty nearly 50 years ago at a conference where they were both to speak.
He said it was shared interests that sparked a friendship he knew would last a lifetime, not only with Marty but his wife Ruth, then a Columbia Law professor.
“Here is this absolutely brilliant woman, almost beyond what one would recognize, extraordinarily intelligent. But still, when you met her, she was rather shy, retiring, not very voluble," Freling said. "So, you really had to get to know her a little bit to begin to understand the depth of her understanding and knowledge and her commitment to the law."
Of course, in the years to come those were qualities she would show the world by not only breaking down barriers in her own life but doggedly paving the way to equality for all women.
Long before she would serve on the high court, she persuaded them, through several key cases, that the 14th Amendment should protect the rights of both sexes.
“I must say I've felt for many years now to be privileged to get to know her and Marty, not just casually but as really close, intimate friends. And as I said, no one anticipated early on that she'd become a rock star in the legal world,” Freling said.
That’s a status many would say Ginsburg held in society as a whole, earning the moniker "Notorious RBG" in her later years.
Still despite all of her accomplishments, Freling said humility remained one of her most admirable qualities.
"She was warm and gracious and just a delightful human being in addition to being absolutely brilliant,” Freling said. “I don't think there are many Ruth Bader Ginsburgs to come along regularly. I'm sure there will be and are some lurking around the legal halls somewhere, but she was rare and hopefully, there will be others who come along to fill her shoes."