Biography of mentor a ‘heart project’
January 20, 2012 · Dave Morris
Signed copies available
Mollie Marti will be signing her book, "Walking with Justice," a biography of her mentor Judge Max Rosenn, at Fuel in Mount Vernon from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21. Signed copies of Marti's book are also available at Anything But Ordinary in the First Street Community Center.
Mollie Marti, well-known locally and nationally as a mentor, has written a biography of her own mentor as a way to share his wisdom with others.
Her biography of late federal judge Max Rosenn - "Walking with Justice" - became a priority for her following a life-threatening heart condition she was fighting three years ago.
"My life deconstructed," said Marti, who lives in rural Mount Vernon. "That cleared a lot of the clutter and brought a great clarity to my life. This rose to the surface as my greatest priority."
Marti, married with three children, is a resilience researcher, educator, psychologist, lawyer, author and speaker. She describes herself as passionate about living full out and sharing the journey in community with others. She served as Rosenn's law clerk in 1991 and later returned for two more years before she and her husband, Monte, moved back to Iowa.
"It was such a stimulating time for me," Marti said.
Marti's admiration for her mentor runs deep, and her new book is richly filled with the lessons he imparted to the select group of clerks who worked with him in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., as he served on the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals. He died in 2006 at age 96.
She describes her biography of the judge as having a threefold message: one of stewardship and using our gifts, a message of service to others, and a message of "intentional living."
The seed of the book came after the Martis received word of the judge's death in 2006. Traveling from Iowa to Pennsylvania for his funeral, they knew there was a possibility that they wouldn't arrive in time, and indeed they didn't.
With the service just concluded, they watched the hundreds of mourners leaving the synagogue.
"It was such a sacred moment," Marti said. "This was a man so beloved and honored while he was alive."
While she said she could have written a 10-volume biography of Rosenn, who is one of the most cited judges in American history, she constructed a book of gratitude that richly details the judge's philosophy, his concern for others and the sense of duty he felt.
"It's more than a biography. It's a love story, a letter of gratitude," Marti said. "I was a young, green lawyer when I went to study by his side."
Reaction has been positive, with some comparing the book to the popular "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom.
Some people are approaching the book as a one-chapter-at-a-time meditation, she noted, adding that she hoped to make her own mentor the mentor of others through the book.
Marti has had a gratifying response from Rosenn's other law clerks as well.
She recounts how the judge put a human face to the law by taking his clerks to prisons so they could meet the people who would be affected by their decisions.
Marti's portrait of Rosenn shows him to be a man of decency and fairness with a humane instinct. She writes: "Rather than basing his decisions on a particular political bent or popular sentiment, he sought a standard of fairness and justices to the parties within the confines of the Constitution and the individual circumstances. No simple label of liberal or conservative would stick to this man."
Marti was writing the book during the time the Mount Vernon community was going through a series of losses relating to teen suicides. Her reflection on what the judge taught her about community involvement led her to found the local Community Resiliency Project. Although her work takes her to far-flung locations, she realized the greater Mount Vernon community needed her.
"Judge taught that leaders step up when they can bring relief," she said, noting that Rosenn chaired the recovery effort after the devastating flood of 1972 in Wilkes-Barre.
"In times of uncertainty, there are doubts, but you should also have hopes and dreams," Marti said, paraphrasing Rosenn's belief in a "better tomorrow."
In knowing the judge, Marti came to know that mentoring is a two-way street.
"It had never occurred to me that I was teaching him, too," she said.
Judge Rosenn also taught those around him by being what Marti calls "a master of rejuvenation."
"In my dozen years as a resiliency researcher, I found nothing he didn't do right," she said, citing everything from his daily 20-minute naps to his purpose-driven life.
Marti describes the book as a "heart project."
"It's been a gift to me to write this book," she said.