1. Paul Schwartz's Interview with Lois J. Gregory
2. Jon Gelman's Presentation Remarks to Lois J.Gregory
1. Paul Schwartz's Interview with Lois J. Gregory
Lois Gregory was born in Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City on May 4,1948, on her mother’s 33rd birthday, 10 days before the State of Israel came into being. That makes the Jewish state “Younger Than Lois”, and hence not eligible to be placed on the Second Injury Fund.
The daughter of a Greek/Irish chemist and an Italian grammar school teacher, she graduated from Dickinson High School in Jersey City in 1965 and then had a choice of two colleges, Jersey City State and Douglass College.
“My brother George was already in college at the time and my dad told me that was it although I probably had the grades to get into a lot of other places,’’ she remembers. “I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher so that ruled out Jersey City State.’’
Douglass was one of the top women’s colleges in the country and Lois remembers that competition was tough.
“I went to Douglass as one of the very smart girls because I had been in the top 10 of my high school class. But when I got there, we all realized that we all had been in the top 10 of our class and maybe some of us weren’t as smart as we thought we were,” she says. “But I figured out how to get B’s and everything worked out okay.”
With the knowledge that she didn’t want to be a teacher (but little else in the way of career ambitions) she chose to major in Latin American Studies.
“I had done pretty well in Spanish in high school and I figured I needed to declare a major, so why not?”
She graduated with a degree in Latin American Studies, but tragedy struck a month before graduation when her father got very sick and quickly passed away.
“He never saw me graduate but at least he knew I had a job offer (with the Middlesex County Welfare Department),” said Gregory. “I had also applied for Graduate School in Latin American Studies and got into the H University of New Mexico and the University of North Carolina.”
But the girl who hadn’t been more than an hour away from her home before, certainly wasn’t going 500 or 2500 miles away now.
So Lois didn’t become the next Madeline Albright and instead took the job as a case worker with the Middlesex County Welfare Department. “My clients were in the New Brunswick projects and divorced women and single mothers in the suburbs in Parlin and Old Bridge,’’ said Lois. She worked for the welfare department from June, 1969 thru July of 1971 and she says the atmosphere was a little loose at the department.
“I worked with a lot of freaky people there, a lot of hippy types and in the summer half the office went to Woodstock for the concert. They asked me to go and I told them— it’s going to rain, I’m not going.’’
“The first Bruce (Springsteen) concert I went to this summer, it poured like crazy and we were out in the rain having a ball. I wouldn’t go to Woodstock at 21 because it might rain and here I am at 55 at a Bruce concert in the rain.”
After she worked at Welfare for about a year she became a liaison to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in New Brunswick There she worked with a judge who was very nice, but not very bright. “I figured if he could do this, I could do this, sol applied to law school.”
Her application to Seton Hall Law School was promptly accepted. “I also applied to New Mexico and North Carolina for law school because I figured if they accepted me in graduate school, they’d take me for law school,” she says. “But I was so close to my mom by then 1 knew I wasn’t going to go to those places, so I’m not sure why I applied.”
So Lois enrolled in Seton Hall in the fall of 1971 as a full-time student. She got good grades her first year, even though she seemed to spend most of her time partying with a lot of Murphys and Hughes’, as she describes it, serving as treasurer of the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity and running keg parties. But she claims to have hated law school and only returned because her mother convinced her to stay.
She was invited to compete for Law Review but turned it down when she heard people discussing their third rewrite of a particular note. “Three rewrites of a paper,” remembers Lois. “No way I was doing that.” Her grades remained good but her future after law school seemed a little cloudy.
“I had no intention of going into corporate law, I knew I could never defend anyone who I thought was guilty and liberals and feminists didn’t become prosecutors back then. And Comp — I swore I’d never do comp, because it had a negative reputation back then, sort of like municipal court,’’ she says.
Brother George had joined the Attorney General’s office and Lois applied for a Deputy AG job when she graduated in June, 1974, and she was sworn in as one of 11 new DAGs on September 9, 1974 and assigned to the Department of Community Affairs.
Within a year, she had had a tussle with Community Affairs commissioner Pat Sheehan and was involuntarily reassigned to the Second Injury Fund in August, 1975.
Less than six months later, her beloved mother Louise died suddenly and Lois began to struggle.
“When I entered comp there were about 4 or 5 women who practiced regularly in the whole division and I hated it,” says Gregory. “A lot of the old-time regulars were hard on all newcomers and it was worse for a young, unmarried woman like me. When my mom died it just got worse and I was terribly depressed for a long time. Jimmy McGovern (then the lead Fund Deputy) kept saying, it’s nice, you’ll like comp, but I hated it.” “But my co-workers took care of me, Then I began to learn what I was doing and the thing people in comp always respected were people who knew what they were doing.
In 1977 things began to change in comp as women began to enter the field in ever greater numbers. Ruth Larson came to the Fund and then Pam Paxton and Jackie Rucker followed and women started to show up more frequently as petitioners and respondents attorneys. As Lois gained her legal legs, her reputation and confidence began to grow.
She was married in 1979 and her son, Gregory Martancik was born on April 6, 1982.
By the time she returned to the Fund in September, 1982, Jim McGovern had become Judge McGovern, and his acting successor as head of the Fund, Jim McFargue had moved over to representing the State of New Jersey and Lois found herself as the head of the Second Injury Fund.
“That meant scheduling and assigning and taking the calls from the younger Fund Deputies for help that I used to make to Jimmy McGovern,” she remembers. “And we were starting to try less cases and settle more as the 1980 Act (allowing aggravation of a pre-existing condition to be fundable) kicked in. That led to more paperwork than we had ever had.” But the staff had developed some continuity which led to great stability in the Fund until the early I 990s.
Then in a period of less than 18 months, Bill Horn was killed in a tragic ear accident and Larry Moncher and Rosemary Granados became judges, “and a lot of the institutional memory was gone. For a while I had no one to talk to about eases until we developed the next group of experienced attorneys.”
But by this time, Lois had achieved nearly legendary status, through ICLE seminars and statewide Fund involvement, especially in discussing, computing and calculating the seemingly ever more complicated Fund settlements that were becoming more common. And she ran lots of retirement dinners and organized all sorts of other social activities, helping create that legend.
“One day I looked at a file that Nancy Johnson was handling and saw her note denying that petitioner was total and there was a notation — YTL. I asked her what YTL was. She told me it meant Younger Than Lois and I nearly fell over laughing,” said Lois. The appellation stuck although as the years went by the rule became less pronounced.
Unfortunately in January, 1997, Lois began to manifest symptoms of an autoimmune disease of the skin that was finally diagnosed in April, 1998 as Pemphigus vulgairis. The condition led to lesions throughout the body and in its extreme form is treated in a hospital burn unit. For the past 62 years she’s fought the disease with varying success, but fatigue and the battle took its toll on the work she had grown to love doing. Attempts at obtaining a Workers Compensation judgeship failed and Lois chose to retire on June 30, 2003 after nearly 28 years of remarkable service to the lawyers and petitioners in the Division.
“It became increasingly hard to do the work and it was time to leave,” said Lois. “If I could have taken a sabbatical I might have done that, but with the kind of job it is, that was impossible.”
Always a voracious reader and lover of the ballet and theater, Lois has been busy with family matters since her retirement and is getting around to reading some of the books she had set aside in the final years of work. She also spends a lot of time at the theater and hopes to do some volunteer 12 step work through Al Anon, an organization that is important to her because of family history and background.
The Fund, once rarely a place for women, is now exclusively the domain of talented women following in her footsteps as no man has been a Fund Deputy since Larry Moncher took the bench in 1991. And the once scorned Compensation practice is now a practice of high quality attorneys, professionalism and great integrity.
But it’s not the working atmosphere that Lois misses the most.
“I miss the camaraderie,” said Lois. “Comp is a family for all of us. It was joyous with me when I was pregnant, happy for me when I got married and empathetic with me when I got divorced. We laughed, we cried and we were there for each other.’’
“I don’t know if there is any other place within the law where there is as much love for each other that we have here. Some of that is starting to disappear and that’s not good. But the Inns of Court can help keep that alive and that’s why I hope to get more active again in retirement.” “I’ll miss the people and the humor and the things I learned which had absolutely nothing to do with the law or the cases we handled.” We already miss Lois Gregory in the Division and hope that she’ll find many reasons to celebrate with us in the future and be part of that family that she did so much to help create.
The Lois Gregory Party Committee wants to thank the following for contributing to this night:
Madelin Cordero from Goldstein, Ballen and O’Rourke for supervising the mailing of the invitations and setting up the conference calls for the committee
Gerry Dwyer for providing a limousine that brought Lois and her family here tonight.
Brenda Marrero from Murray Weingartner’s office for her yeoman work in keeping track of the acceptances to tonight’s party and being our financial secretary.
Kenneth Chamlin, Bonnie Kass-Viola, Frank Salzer, Jim Stapleton, Ken Wind, Leitner, Tort & DeFazio, and Madnick & Milstein for additional financial support to help this dinner succeed.
The attorneys from the office of Robert Frieland, Fsq. who delivered and posted notices and invitations throughout the state.
The office of Goldstein, Ballen, O’Rourke and Wildstein who provided the postage for the mailing of the invitations.
Raymond Shebell, whose generosity brought us the wonderful band that has provided music for us tonight.
All of you for coming and sharing in Lois’ party tonight.
THE LOIS GREGORY PARTY COMMITTEE
Carla Aldare[li, Esq.
Jon Gelman, Esq.
Nancy Johnson, Esq.
Jane Lafferty, Esq.
Pcggy Kerr, Esq.
Hon. James McGovern
Dolores McNamee, Esq.
Belle Pretter, Esq.
Linda Schober, Esq.
Paul Schwartz, Esq.
Bob Wegner, Esq.
2. Jon Gelman's Presentation Remarks to Lois J.Gregory
This is presented to Lois J. Gregory in recognition and of the many years she has served as Senior Deputy Attorney General of the State of New Jersey representing the Second Injury Fund. Her high level of professionalism, as well as her wisdom, intellect and friendship have been warmly appreciated by the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation bench and bar.
As a knowledgeable educator and zealous advocate, she has provided leadership in crafting the modern workers’ compensation system in the State of New Jersey, while preserving the rights and liberties of its citizens. It has been our honor and privilege to have worked with her over the years and to be the beneficiaries of her valuable achievements. Her efforts allow us all to walk taller and raise our heads a little higher.
Jon L. Gelman on behalf of
The Members of the Workers’ Compensation Bar
Dated: October 17, 2003
Aberdeen, New Jersey