‘I knew she was destined for greatness’ - Former secretary reflects on life and legacy of Justice Ginsburg
As much of the country debates how and who will replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one Newark woman is remembering her former boss as a woman who was an inspiration.
Marie Melito was just 18 years old when she went to work as a secretary for Ginsburg, who was then an assistant professor of law at Rutgers University. Melito says that she knew from the first day that there was something special about her boss.
“I knew she was destined for greatness. Everyone admired her,” Melito says.
Melito worked with Ginsburg for five years. She calls Ginsburg an inspiration. She says that she saw a side of Ginsburg that most people didn’t know.
“She had a terrific sense of humor. Very few people knew that side of her. She was very funny,” Melito says. “She was very patient and kind and I tried to emulate that.”
Melito says that when she worked for Ginsburg it was at the Ackerson Building at Rutgers – what is now the School of Nursing. When the law school got a new building in 1999, Ginsburg was there for the dedication and spent the day with Melito.
“She saw me. We were hugging in the street,” she says.
By then, Melito was on her way up the administrative ladder at Rutgers Law and eventually became an associate dean. She says that it was a position that she didn’t think she would have earned if not for Ginsburg. When Melito retired from Rutgers in 2015 after 48 years, she was given an honor that she calls the thrill of her career and life.
“It will always be known as the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Associate Dean Emerita,” Melito says.
She says that it is an honor.
“To remember that it stated way back in 1967 with that relationship,” she says.
When asked who she'd like to see replace Justice Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, Melito answered "someone just like her.... but there really is no one else like her."