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A. Robert Zeff

A. Robert  Zeff
Status: Deceased

(1934 - 2021)

A. Robert Zeff (born Avram Abbot Zeff), 87, died of a life well spent on June 6, 2021, while watching a basketball game at home in Westport, Connecticut. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Feb 2, 1934, Bob grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he played high school baseball well enough to pitch at the University of Michigan and for the Tigers Farm Team until bad knees forced him to make other career plans. He remained an avid baseball fan for a lifetime of rarely missed Detroit Tigers games.

Bob graduated from the University of Detroit Law School at 22 and was among the youngest applicants to ever pass the Michigan bar exam in 1957. Zeff began trial practice immediately in his ailing father's law firm and the name Zeff & Zeff PC still exists 65 years later. Although Bob was initially a "pink-faced young lawyer trying to retain his father's clients," by the early 60's Bob had successfully built the firm's practice in handling catastrophic personal injury cases. When million dollar verdicts first began, Bob became a national leader in 7 figure recoveries. He was proudest of a series of press injury cases that changed the industrial codes in Detroit's plants. Newsweek covered him among the "Top 20 Personal Injury Trial Attorneys" and his closing arguments to juries were events that drew spectators from all parts of the courthouse. The Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education featured cassettes of his 'Million Dollar Arguments' and he authored the chapter on closing arguments in ICLE's "Michigan Civil Procedure During Trial." Bob's reputation was aptly captured by a Detroit News columnist who observed "Defense attorneys cringe when Zeff enters the courtroom." In 1975 Bob was inducted into the Inner Circle, a group limited to 100 of the best trial lawyers in the United States.

Zeff was once featured in a Detroit News spread covering a handful of the Most Eligible Bachelors in the city, then later married Susan Jane Kroll from South Carolina, who hadn't seen the article. They celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary on June 2nd, 2021. Bob was privately a frequent high praiser of Susan in matters of the heart, golf, and business, often followed by the humorous disclaimer "don't tell her I said that." Bob's interests and experiences warranted a book he often promised to write. He was widely world traveled with extraordinarily colorful experiences. Bob owned a jai alai fronton in Connecticut with related pursuits in Spain, where he became a fan of Salvador Dali and began assembling a museum quality Dali collection -- the tip of an iceberg of fine art he and Susan collected. Bob traveled to South America and had Indiana Jones-type jungle adventures complete with artifacts and arrows flying. Bob was once surprised to find himself seated at a table with the President of Indonesia at a state dinner there discussing international business. Bob was an unrepentant golfer for many years and reached his golf pinnacle on a scramble team that won a nearly $40,000 pot at a charity tournament for the Boca Raton Regional Hospital. His pace of play in golf, as in Bob's private life, was deliberate. He was a reliable late arrival for virtually all scheduled events, a practice Susan was unable to dent over 3 decades of marriage. Bob had imposing, 'family member' dogs all his adult years that were fiercely devoted to him and Susan but gentle enough to take a daily Brazil nut from his lips at breakfast. He lived life fully.

Bob was survived by his loving and devoted wife Susan of Boca Raton, Florida, and his niece Sandra (Mark) Gold, the daughter of Bob's beloved older sister Nita "Billie" (Moe) Barak who predeceased him, and Sandra's children. He was also predeceased by his father Louis Zeff and his mother, Bertha Friedman Zeff.

Bob was a member of Congregation Shaarey Zedek Synagogue in Southfield, Michigan, and Palm Beach Orthodox Synagogue in Florida. He was an avid supporter of Israeli causes and a generous benefactor of Hebrew University, where the Zeffs established the Susan and A. Robert Zeff Graduate Scholarship Endowment Fund for law school students in perpetuity. Donations in Bob's memory should be directed to the Division of Hematologic Neoplasia, Dana Farber Institute, 450 Brookline Ave, Boston, Mass 02215 Arrangements are being handled by Ira Kaufman Chapel and interment will be in a private ceremony at Cloverhill Cemetery.
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