Sunday, December 19, 2004


from Glee Cady

Ron was an immense help to me in my professional life, of that there
can be no doubt. And he wanted to meet my children, urging me to
bring them in to his office when we all were in DC at the same time.
But it was his interest in literature that produced the lasting
bond. He cared that my late husband was a poet and he took the time
to read and discuss Frank's work. He's one of only two people I've
met in the last 10 years who didn't know Frank personally but wanted
to read his work anyway. Amazing, isn't it? that he could find the
time to care about this and about my family and all the time
continue being the professional resource for all of us.

Glee Cady


The Journal for Education, Community and Values: Interface on the Internet

The Journal for Education, Community and Values: Interface on the InternetAn article written about Ron by Glee Cady

Monday, December 13, 2004


from Bartlett Cleland....

I wanted to share a little about Ron that perhaps not many know. I met Ron when I was working on Capitol Hill and we worked together on a couple issues, mainly privacy and intellectual property. He was great at inviting me to several different events so I had the opportunity to chat with him on a number if issues and mostly about topics that had nothing to do with my day to day job. Sooner or later we got around to talking about his family - clearly a favorite topic of his - and more specifically to adoption.

We talked many times about adoption ( I am adopted too) and he reminded me so much of my parents - wanting to know if being adopted made me think of my parents differently - I always assured him the answer was yes - we love our parents in ways no one can understand because they saved us....

Ron's family, particularly his kids, can know every day and every moment, that he loved them deeply enough to make sure he was doing everything "right" and understanding adoption from their point of view.

Bartlett D. Cleland

Associate General Counsel and

VP, Tax and Corporate Governance Policy

Software industry information (

InfoTech and tax (

Information Technology Association of America

Saturday, December 11, 2004


from the Saks family- Ron's cousins

Ronnie, as we called him was our first cousin.

Of course, we were devastated when we heard the news. We knew him as a great family member. He was always there for us. We were a close family.

Obviously, Ron was a modest person. We knew very little about his work, only that he was a lawyer. We loved him alot and we certainly will miss him.

May he RIP.

Linda, Norman & Mark Saks

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


from Ralph Nader...

December 8, 2004

When Ron, fresh out of law school, came to work with us, we presented
him with several challenges he could take on. He chose the cause of
Freedom of Information—information, the currency of democracy. Or as a
federal judge wrote recently: “Democracy lies behind closed doors.”

From that early start, Ron branched out to master the emerging issues
of privacy, new technologies and the clashes between civic and
commercial interests. The area just grew and grew and Ron kept up with
the pace, with good cheer and stamina. He will be missed, but his legacy
of writings and actions will live on. So will his personal contributions
to his beloved family.

-Ralph Nader


from Ron's wonderful and beloved son, Jeremy

I greatly appreciate all your comments.

When I feel sad I often find myself reading the comments on this website and sometimes find that doing so cheers me up.

I know my dad had an amazing influence on many
people throughout his life but part of me feels that the person whom
he influenced the most was me. I feel so lost without him here but it
is comforting to know that there are many other people who feel the
same way. One of the hardest parts of going on without him is the
fact that I usually find myself unable to sleep at night (it is
currently 7:00am and I have not fallen asleep since the wee hours of
yesterday morning) but I know and have seen that there is a lot of
support for me and everyone else.

Believe me, if you're having
trouble there are definitely people out there for you to turn to.
However, the support that exists sometimes is not enough. The
feelings of sadness, loss, and regret often overpower the support that
I, and all of us, feel.

It's hard for me to say, but I feel like I
need to take the place of my father by saying that although it hurts
we will work through it together; do not feel afraid to lean on other
for support. I often feel like I should not pass my sorrowful burdens
on others (as some of you may feel), but believe me, the people who
really care about you will be there to help you. I have definitely
found this out and it might be hard for some of you to realize, I know
it was for me, but we all have friends that care more about us getting
through tough times like this than their own problems.

I'm sure I will post again but I felt like I needed to say something. Again,
thank you all. All of your support has been helpful and reading your
comments on this site often make me happy (although sometimes, as I'm
sure is the case with everyone, make me miss him even more). On
behalf of my mom, sister, and the rest of my family, I would like to
thank you all for your wonderful support.

-Jeremy Plesser


from Michele Cohen, a kind woman who was with Ron at the end....

My friend and I did not know Ron Plesser professionally or personally. We had the pleasure of spending the last hour and a half of his life with him at Dulles Airport. We spent the first hour winding up and down the terminal to go through security. He was a very friendly man with a good sense of humor.

I noticed immediately that my friend who usually gets annoyed with my habit of conversing with strangers was very friendly herself. She had left me at curb side check-in to get a head start on the long security line. Her last words to me were "don't be so chatty we're in a hurry!" By the time we had been in line with Ron for about 30 minutes she was the chatty one! This is no longer surprising after reading these blogs. There was something special about this man.

Ron told us how he was on his way to Paris. We asked if it was a business trip. He said that although he had recently opened a law office in Paris, he was really looking forward to this trip and spending time with friends. Ron told us how much he loved his job that he was a very lucky man. He mentioned he was also looking forward to going to Paris because he had "all the time in the world to enjoy himself". We all went through security and said our goodbyes.

Five minutes later we got onto one of the trams to go to the gates and we said to Ron, "Oh look it's our friend, may we sit will you?" On the way over we made jokes about how long the security line was and that we would all sleep well on the plane if we ever got off of the never-ending bad Disney ride!

Ron's cell phone rang, I know now after speaking with Barbara that he was on the phone with Stu. I was sitting right next to Ron and could not help but over hear his conversation. I remember being impressed. He was obviously advising a junior (at least to him:)) lawyer on how to handle a particular case. He was pretty direct, but there was something in his tone, he was proud of his protege. I thought to myself how lucky this lawyer is to work with Ron.

As he hung up we were closely approaching the gates. He put his head back and closed his eyes. That was the last time we spoke with Ron.

Everyone was moving past us to get off the tram. As my friend and I stood up to leave, Ron started snoring rather loudly. At first we thought he was teasing us about sleeping on the plane. After shaking him we knew something was very wrong. My friend immediately started stopping people and calling for a doctor. I stayed with Ron holding his arm and asking him to please stay with us, that we were getting him help. I knew he was already gone but I didn't want to give up.

Another woman administered CPR while we waited for the defibulator to arrive. They said he had a pulse with the defibulator, but again, I knew he was gone. He lay there peacefully. My friend and I stayed with him until the paramedics put him on the stretcher to take him away.

I am a 38 year old stay at home mother of three, with an MBA, who desperately misses the excitement of a career. The moment we left our new friend Ron, I felt differently. I thought to myself what is really important in my life? Today, although I am hoping to go back to work someday, this will not define me as a person. I want to make the world a better place. We do that not so much by great accomplishments, but by the little things we do each day.

I also was very sad at the thought that I would not be able to find Ron's wife. I wanted her to know that he died peacefully and that people were caring for him in his last moments. In addition, I wanted her to know that he continued to touch people in big ways even through his death.

Thankfully I found Barbara.

Michelle Cohen
Bethesda, Maryland


From our friends at Privacy and American Business - they devoted an entire issue to Ron, a member of their board

In 1974, I spoke at a conference on “The Public’s Right to Know in the Electronic Age.” I listened to a very bright young lawyer from Public Citizen also speak, had a chance to talk with him, and marked him down as someone to watch. Within a year, the newly-appointed Chair of the U.S. Privacy Protection Study Commission asked me who might serve well as the General Counsel of the Commission. I told him, “Ron Plesser is your man.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Ron was so taken with privacy as a legal, political, and social issue that he made it the centerpiece of his career, to privacy’s (and our society’s) great good fortune.

I, and all of us at P&AB, will deeply miss Ron’s intellectual and personal embrace. But we will treasure, and remember often, all that he did and meant to us.

– Alan Westin, P&AB

Ron’s accomplishments really can’t be overstated. He started out as a “Nader Raider”, doing FOIA and privacy litigation. In the mid-1970s, he was General Counsel of the Privacy Protection Study Commission. Ron made a single contribution to the PPSC’s extraordinary report. He has been lead counsel in numerous and important privacy cases. In the 1980s, Ron was an adjunct professor, teaching the constitutional law aspects of privacy at GW University Law School. In the early 1990s, Ron was a leader in the American Bar Association and for a time, Chair of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section. In the mid-1990s, Ron founded the Individual Reference Services Group and led many of the industry’s legislative and regulatory battles. Ron was a speaker and writer for Privacy & American Business and at virtually every important privacy forum. And, of course, Ron built one of the country’s most successful privacy practices at Piper Rudnick.

Not long ago, I was walking down one of the long corridors in the Russell Senate Office Building. Approaching me from the other end of the corridor came Ron with two of his clients in tow. As we passed, he enveloped me in a huge bear hug and announced to his startled clients, “This is my brother.” As usual, Ron was right. Writing this today, just a few hours after Ron’s death, you can’t convince me that I haven’t lost my brother.

– Bob Belair, P&AB & Oldaker, Biden & Belair

It’s hard to speak of Ron Plesser in the past tense when he was always so much a force looking toward the future both professionally and personally. There was never an event, a conference, or a workshop we were planning at P&AB, nor a P&AB issue we needed him to write for that he did not come up big with the right people talking about the next big thing; or the right topic to give our readers the heads up they’d get nowhere else, except for his special insights. “Tell me what you need, kid, and you’ve got it.” He was with us from our beginning and it will be hard trying to fill that role he always played so effortlessly and so generously.

– Lorrie Sherwood, P&AB

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