Gersham Goldstein, z”l, left this world a better place when he died on August 6, 2020 than when he was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938. He fought the good fight against colon cancer. He went peacefully and without pain at home.
Gersham studied at City College of New York where he proudly flunked out his freshman year, only to return and graduate in 1959. Next he attended Penn Law School, where he had an infamous run-in with Chief Justice Earl Warren. He returned to New York to attend NYU Law School for his LLM in taxation. He was heavily influenced by Gerald L. Wallace, “the best law school classroom teacher.”
In 1963, he made the first of nearly 20 cross country drives to move to Salem, Oregon. Prior to this he’d never been west of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He worked with the Honorable Peter M. Gunnar, the first judge for the Oregon Tax Court. While there, he met the love of his life, Pauline. They were married in 1966.
Early in his career, Gersham worked for Jacob Javits and Governor Mark Hatfield, writing the 1964 Republican Convention keynote speech for the latter. He went on to teach at the University of Cincinnati Law School where he received tenure at the age of 27. When he realized he was making too much money, he decided it was time to return to Oregon. He joined Davies Biggs, the predecessor to Stoel Rives, where he worked until his retirement.
Even after leaving Cincinnati and moving to Portland, Gersham always returned to his first love of teaching. He spent his sabbaticals teaching at Hastings School of Law in San Francisco or NYU and taught classes at Lewis & Clark Law School. He was constantly editing and writing, serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Corporate Taxation for 43 years. He collaborated on the Seventh Edition of Bittker & Eustice’s Federal Income Taxation of Corporation and Shareholders, the “best known book of all time on U.S. income taxation.” It has yet to be updated in the 20 years since that edition was released, a testament to the monumental undertaking this was.
Gersham was a member and longtime volunteer of the ABA Tax Section, board member and former president and treasurer of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society, and a board member of the Pioneer Courthouse Historical Society. He was a life trustee of the Lewis & Clark Law School.
Gersham was a pillar of the Jewish community and was generous with his spirit, knowledge, time, and money. He helped Chabad of Oregon set up their non-profit tax status in Portland 36 years ago and was a dear friend over the years. Gersham and Pauline formed the first chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDF, now JDRF) in Portland in the early 1980s. He served as President of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and was a board member of numerous Jewish institutions including the Robison Jewish Home, Congregation Neveh Shalom, and the Greater Portland Hillel.
He leaves behind a beautiful family—his wife, Pauline; daughter, Deborah; and daughter-in-law, Jennifer. He and his beloved wife, “Miss Pauline,” were married 54 years. They shared a tremendous love and respect for one another. He was predeceased in 2015 by their son, Marcus. His four grandchildren, Krystal, Logan, Jakob, and Noah, know grandpa’s most important lesson: “Have you asked a good question today?”
A consummate storyteller, Gersham will be remembered for his gentle nature, a twinkle in his eye, and his calm demeanor. He was known to many as a mentor and recognized by a few as someone who changed the course of their lives. His impact is far and wide.
Donations in Gersham’s memory may be made to Pioneer Courthouse Historical Society, Maimonides Jewish Day School, or the Knight Cancer Institute.
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