Federated Philatelic Clubs
of Southern California
Distinguished Service Award for 2006
Dr. Larry Sherman|
Presented by Alan C. Campbell
This year's honoree was born in Brooklyn in 1930. Like most of us, he collected stamps as a boy, but as a teenager, his interest waned. He enrolled at Queen's College but soon transferred to the rigorous Hutchins program at the University of Chicago and graduated with a master's degree in history in 1952. He was drafted and served in the Korean War for two years as a medic, which inspired him to pursue a career in medicine. Upon his discharge, he reenrolled at Queen's College to complete his pre-med requirements, and there met his future wife Mimi. They were married in 1956 and both graduated from NYU Medical School in 1960. Our honoree continued his postgraduate training at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, with an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in endocrinology. His first son was born there in 1965. The family returned to New York in 1966, and our honoree worked for several years as attending physician at the Queens Hospital Center. His second son was born on Long Island in 1968. His career in academic medicine began in 1972, teaching as an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Stonybrook campus of SUNY. He taught for 14 years there as a full professor of medicine, and served for 8 years as associate dean for academic affairs. During his professional career, he has published a huge number of articles, abstracts and reviews: those that I can pronounce have to do with diabetes, acromegaly, and Paget's disease.
When his boys were young, our recipient tried to interest them in stamp-collecting, and although this didn't take in either case, he did manage to get hooked again himself. After a brief foray into collecting plate blocks, he became captivated with the patriotic covers of World War II, a conflict in which his brother had fought. At one point, he seized the chance to buy intact a vast collection, and started haunting the bourses in Manhattan, seeking to add to it. Over the years, our honoree and his wife had visited San Diego many times. Captivated by the climate, they were determined to relocate here. An opportunity finally presented itself in 1993, when our recipient came to San Diego to establish a private practice and oversee clinical drug trials for various budding biomedical companies. His wife Mimi, a child psychiatrist, also quickly found work. They were then able to cut back their hours, and together began immersing themselves in the cultural life here, haunting museums and attending the opera, symphony, ballet, and theater.
Now that he finally had time to devote to his collections, our honoree make contact with fellow students of military postal history in the San Diego area. He joined our stamp club - the Philatelic 25 - where we quickly came to appreciate his genial nature and organizational skills. We dragooned this consummate gentleman into becoming our president, and he soon found himself discharging all the responsibilities of what had once been four separate offices: president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. Our honoree confirms the old maxim, that if you need to get something done, assign it to the busiest person in the room. Our meetings are held in members' houses on a rotating basis, and no one ever missed a meeting at the president's home, partly because the spread he put on was always far superior to the typical bachelor's idea of what constitutes refreshments. Once, returning from the powder room there, I got disoriented and by mistake opened the door to his garage, where I found two late-model sedans and to my amazement, on all the surrounding walls, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves packed with scholarly volumes and modern first editions. What I most enjoy about our recipient is his sly sense of humor, which I'm confident you'll appreciate when he delivers the panegyric at next year's banquet. Our honoree presided for eight years over the Philatelic 25, and served five years as awards chairman at Sandical, always impeccably attired as he handed out the plaques and medals. How he comes by his fashion sense is a bit of a mystery, since I have it on good authority that he is actually color-blind.
At first, his exhibit of WWII patriotic covers received a mixed reception, so he sidestepped and prepared an exhaustive study of worldwide usages of the 3¢ Win the War stamp. This exhibit better fit the judges' conservative sense of what constituted serious postal history, and went on to win consistent gold awards, a reserve grand at Sandical, and a large vermeil in Spain. But the patriotic covers are his first love, and his catalogue raisonne, United States Patriotic Covers of WWII, was published by the Collector's Club of Chicago in 1999 and quickly sold out. Collectors from all over the country then began contacting him, sending in scans of previously unknown cachets. In the meantime, our honoree continued adding to his collection, already the best in the world, the hunt made easier now that certain postal history dealers' stocks contained a special section labeled "Not in Sherman". Our honoree returned to exhibiting highlights from this collection, a rigorous winnowing assignment, considering that a ten-frame exhibit might typically show 320 covers and he had over 9000 to choose from! The newly-created "Display Class" was a godsend for his exhibit, and in 1999 at APS Stampshow, it took the first display class grand award ever given. Eventually, our honoree prepared a greatly expanded second edition of his catalogue, now entitled United States Patriotic Envelopes of WWII, published in 2006 by James Lee of Chicago. He was there at the international show in Washington, D. C. this past spring to autograph copies, and this brand new edition received a gold award in the literature competition. In the meantime, he tackled another ambitious project, editing a book entitled The United States Post Office in WWII, which consists of the text of a 1951 P.O.D. document, 300 illustrations, and commentaries by today's leading students of military postal history. This book, published by the Collector's Club of Chicago in 2002, also quickly sold out. These two books are major achievements, essential references for any specialist in the field, and by the modest standards of philatelic writing, represent bestsellers. It might just be possible that our honoree's philatelic books, building on his professional skills as a researcher and writer, may ultimately reach a wider readership than his many articles on endocrinology. As a pioneer in new forms of competitive philatelic exhibiting, such as modern postal history and illustrated mail, he is now organizing the Philatelic 25's first team foray into single-page exhibiting.
I have heard him deliver fascinating talks on the postmarks of Jaffa, on the physicist Richard Feynman's quest to visit Tanna Tuva, and on that living fossil fish occasionally caught by fisherman in the Indian Ocean, the coelacanth. He and his wife have traveled widely. He is a well-read man who wears his erudition lightly, and who is loathe to criticize anyone. He plays golf, collects Catalina pottery, roots for the Padres and Chargers nowadays, and still oversees clinical trials of new pharmaceuticals. He is beloved by his grandchildren, in part because his intellectual curiosity today puts those of us who are younger to shame. Our honoree has lived in Southern California only thirteen years, but his contributions to philately during that time have been truly remarkable. Hence, it my great personal honor and privilege to present the 2006 Distinguished Service Award of the Federated Philatelic Clubs of Southern California to Dr. Larry Sherman.