by Sarah Pinard, Processing Archivist
Gustin Lewis Reichbach B.A. ’67 was a proud Brooklynite, University at Buffalo alumnus, law student activist, lawyer, respected New York State Supreme Court Juris and international judge. After his premature death from cancer in 2012, his wife, Ellen Meyers, donated Gus’s personal and professional papers to the University Archives, where they found a permanent home and recognition for their immeasurable research value.
Gus was born in Brooklyn in 1946 and raised in a working class family. He moved to Buffalo to attend UB and studied political science during the tumultuous 1960s. He was president of Alpha Epsilon Pi and graduated in 1967, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa.
Gus returned to New York City in the fall of 1967 to attend Columbia University School of Law. Like many college campuses across the country, including UB, Columbia University was facing a chaotic and increasingly distressed student body in the late 1960s. Gus found himself in a leadership role with the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) where he organized protests and occupations on campus. During one protest Gus was arrested for disorderly conduct, placed on permanent disciplinary probation, and eventually acquitted after a raucous trial on campus. His involvement with SDS and with the subsequent co-authorship of a book titled “The Bust Book: What to Do Till the Lawyer Comes” significantly delayed his admittance to the New York State Bar Association because of interest shown in these issues by the Committee on Character and Fitness.
Between graduation and admittance to the bar he worked at the New York Law Commune. There he represented the New York Black Panthers, anti-war protesters, and the likes of Abbie Hoffman. Hoffman would make an appearance at UB in the fall of November 1969 where he spoke to a crowd of approximately 3,000 in the Norton Student Union. When Hoffman died in 1989, The Abbie Hoffman Foundation held a celebration of his life at the Palladium in New York City. Reichbach spoke at the celebration, and an original program from the event is one of many interesting items found in the Gustin L. Reichbach Papers in the University Archives. This program, along with the entirety of the collection, will be open to researchers when processing of the collection is completed next fall.