to Coach Tauber from the Class of 1957
Poor Coach Tauber. In 1953 a scruffy group of Yeshiva University freshman showed up in the Yeshiva University gym to join the fencing team. It was naïve to think of them as future competitive athletes. They were not jocks, had no high school athletic experience (of any kind let alone fencing) and their physiques were anything but buff. Some were scrawny, others more bulky but flaccid and flabby, no bulging muscles on those nerds.
Indeed, when we went out to duel our more experienced opponents (Columbia, Brooklyn College, et al.), it made me recall a famous speech given by King Henry in Shakespeare’s Henry V:
this day to the ending of the world,
And so began the journey with Coach Tauber that continues even today at this dinner tribute. We can be proud of the 28-3 winning record we amassed in our senior year. But we should be even more thankful for the fact that the coach taught us what was really important in life, namely:
1. If you want to win, you must struggle, even if not naturally gifted.
2. The race of life is not to the swift but to the longest lasting.
3. Self-discipline and honor are necessary components of life.
4. You will achieve even if you lose provided you fought the good fight and gave it your all. Laziness was a dirty word to Coach Tauber who put us through our paces mercilessly.
5. Finally, even if you lose sometimes, never give up because if you keep persevering, victory will ultimately and inevitably be yours.
The best proof of all the above are the remarkable lifetime professional achievements of the members of the fencing team (and I mention only those who are here) Class of 1957 (each of whom I hold dearly as a friend) as follows:
Paul Peyser – Record Setting Saber Fencer – PhD Chemistry – my childhood friend in Bensonhurst.
Erwin Katz (Saber) – Federal Judge with whom I spent a great deal of time in college bumming around the lower east side.
Irwin Kanarek (Foil) – Ophthalmologist Extraordinaire – whose been a host to me on many occasions.
Josef Fisher (Foil) – First graduate of Yeshiva University to gain admission directly into Harvard Medical School from which he graduated magna cum laude, Chairman American College of Surgery, Chaired Professor at Harvard Medical School. Josef was my friend from childhood. I remember when he invited me in sixth grade to see his new chemistry set. His mother Molly was like a surrogate mom to me.
Last but not least, Robert N. Taub (Epee) – MD, PhD – First graduate of Yeshiva University to gain admission directly into the Yale Medical School, Chaired Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University of College of Physicians & Surgeons (Columbia’s Medical School), Board Certified in four disciplines, internal medicine, hematology, oncology and allergy and immunology and world leading expert in mesothelioma. I am proud to think of him today as my best friend.
Whatever natural gifts of brain power, grit and determination God gave my fencing classmates, I verily believe that Arthur Tauber’s teaching played a significant role in our ultimate successful development.
We recognized it back then when the Class of 1957 gave Arthur Tauber its senior award at the Senior Dinner as the teacher who did most for student welfare and we recognize and salute it now by our attendance at this tribute.
As for myself, not only am I eternally grateful to Coach Tauber for molding me and acting in loco parentis to me, but I am also grateful to my predecessor fencing teammate Howard Spear not only for paving the way for me to be one of the two people in my class to get into the Yale Law School, but for teaching me how to be a power foil fencer.
Finally, I want to pay a special tribute to two people neither of whom were active fencers but both of whose contributions were invaluable components of our success. First, Dr. Allan J. Scher, our assistant manager and also someone I am proud to call a great friend and our indefatigable manager, the late Dr. Willie Lerer, a man whose life was tragically taken from us all too soon.
In sum, the fencers of the Class of 1957 are proud to welcome tonight Coach Tauber into our band of brothers, we happy few, even though he never let us get a touch off him.