Aldan Oviter Markson of Maplewood, N.J., died June 16, 2019, at age 89. He was a loving husband to his wife of 50 years, Patricia, a father, lawyer and judge with a wide-ranging intellect and interests as varied as the game of Go, British parliamentary history and the New York Jets.
Aldan was born in 1929 in Caldwell N.J. Both parents died before his 8th birthday and he was raised by his mother’s sister, Lilly. While a good student, it was his knack for standardized tests that propelled him to be admitted to both Dartmouth College and Columbia Law School. He loved to relate the tone of shock with which his high school principal reported that Aldan had the highest SAT score in his high school.
After law school, Aldan was drafted into the military just as the Korean War ended and he was assigned to what he referred to as the “best job in the army.” Never rising above the rank of corporal, he was assigned a car and driver and provided an office overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge at the Presidio. While there, his job was to represent solders charged with military crimes. As he liked to say, he never again had an office as beautiful as the one he had in the Army at age 25.
After the Army, Aldan returned to New Jersey to start his law practice in the borough of Kenilworth, representing individual clients and small businesses in the ordinary matters of life for over 50 years: taxes, real estate, divorce, probate. Later in his career, it was not uncommon for him to represent the grandchildren of some of his first clients, which he enjoyed immensely. While successful in his professional endeavors by any objective measure, Aldan was not particularly motivated by financial gain. He loved the law and the practice of law. To him a “great” case was not a lucrative or high-profile one; it meant one with an interesting legal angle or challenge. He valued his reputation for integrity, professionalism and legal knowledge.
Aldan served the people of Kenilworth as city attorney and then municipal judge for 15 years, and was known for his fairness, knowledge of the law, professionalism and wit. He would use humor to make a point in a disarming way, but he was always realistic about his sense of humor. After leaving the bench, he loved saying that people (particularly other attorneys) did not find his jokes nearly as funny as when he was judging their cases.
Aldan was born when Herbert Hoover was president and died in the internet age, but never became an old man. He continued to learn, grow and adapt up until his death. Aldan was quick to see the value of new technologies for his law practice and was an early adopter of copy machines, word processors, LexisNexis and the internet. In his mid-50s, Aldan decided that he would go back to school and completed the challenging master-of-tax program at New York University. When Patricia took a job in Cincinnati and they temporarily moved there, Aldan decided that moving across the country would not hinder him professionally, got admitted to the Ohio Bar, and at age 75, sent out his resume and was hired as a real estate attorney for a local firm. He continued to practice law and assist clients through his late 80s.
He was an avid reader and collector of books and enjoyed a good intellectual debate about history, politics, economics or any other subject. He was a competitive online player of chess and Go and enjoyed chatting and playing with players from around the world. Aldan loved the outdoors, animals in general and his Jack Russells specifically. While professionally dispassionate in most cases, anyone found guilty of animal abuse could expect to receive the maximum allowable penalty in Aldan’s court.
Aldan lived a complete and fulfilling life with few regrets. He is survived by Patricia and his children Carol, John, Jennifer, Stephen and Paul. He was predeceased by his daughter Emily.