04 Jan Godspeed, Rob
[Mark A. Drumbl is the Class of 1975 Alumni Professor of Law and Director, Transnational Law Institute, Washington and Lee University.]
Rob Cryer had such bright eyes. Sometimes blue eyes can be icy, but his were never so: they always had a twinkle, a gleam of warm curiosity and delightful mischievousness.
He was my friend, he was a friend to so many, and I will miss him. I have many memories of long discussions about so much over so many pints in a constellation of places scattered world-wide, and also at home – his home – in Birmingham.
I first met Rob in the mid 2000’s, when I reviewed his first book, on Selectivity in International Criminal Law, and then, as thereafter, he so understood the doctrine but never took it pedantically. He always had a critical view, not a nihilistic one, but one that bettered law by recognizing law’s limits. His arc of knowledge was wide and broad. His work on the Tokyo Tribunal, and Judge Pal, was elegant and snappy.
But that’s not why I’m gonna miss him. He was generous and warm, he laughed a lot, he cared, he really lived life and never played a role, he never ever was strategic, he was a free spirit, he was so wonderfully authentic.
I spent the second half of 2020 on sabbatical, as a Visiting Scholar at Queen’s University Belfast. While in the U.K. I had the good fortune to go see Rob twice, in person, and on what were good days for him as he went through treatment we sat outside in his backyard and drank pints like always, less than before, but some still. The second time we organized a little informal chat with four scholars, in a big circle, to chat about an article I’m co-authoring with Solange Mouthaan on the trials of Buchenwald’s Ilse Koch. It was like in the old days. It was among my best memories of 2020. Rob was in fine form. He was full of ideas for Solange and me, so present, so clever as always in the setting afternoon sun from his folding lawn chair. Afterwards, he sent along three pages of comments, full of insight. I will treasure these forever. He was buoyed by it all, by ideas and projects, and it was a blessing to have those moments.
The photo accompanying this post is a photo I really cherish. It’s from 2016, a conference in Leeds, and a particularly memorable evening for me.