Former NCRA member passes away

The Sumter Item reported on Jan. 3 that past NCRA member Virginia Gregory Roland, 67, of West Columbia, S.C., passed away peacefully on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. She worked as a circuit court reporter in the state of South Carolina Criminal Court for 20 years.

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Former NCRA member James Edward Wolfington passes away

The Seguin Gazette reported on Dec. 7 that former NCRA member James (Jim) Edward Wolfington passed away on Dec. 5 in New Braunfels, Texas.

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NCRA retired member James Edward McLaughlin passes away

Retired NCRA member James Edward McLaughlin, Mattapan, Mass., passed away on Nov. 22. He served as a court reporter the federal court s for 30 years.

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Former NCRA member Robert James Frolik passes

The Corvallis Gazette-Times reported on Nov. 7 that former NCRA member Robert Frolik, 94, died on Wed., Oct. 31, in Albany, N.Y. Frokil was a past president of the Oregon Court Reporters Association.

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IN MEMORIAM: Gary Cramer, FAPR, RPR (Ret.)

Gary Cramer, FAPR, RPR (Ret.)

Gary Cramer, FAPR, RPR (Ret.)

It is with great sorrow that I announce the passing of court reporter Gary Cramer of California. Gary succumbed to complications from Alzheimer’s.

With his foresight, Gary developed, drafted, and brought to the California Court Reporters Association and NCRA many initiatives and ideas, which he then pushed through to implementation based on his tenacity and fierce advocacy for the court reporting profession. Often these were ideas ahead of their time.

These are just a few of the things he accomplished:

  • He developed the Transcript Reimbursement Fund law, which has paid for millions of dollars’ worth of reporter transcripts prepared for indigent civil litigants through part of the CSR license fees.
  • He developed language that resulted in the passage of a law that allows privately hired freelance court reporters to appear as pro tempore reporters in civil court cases when an official reporter is not available. (Although this law passed more than 25 years ago, it was unfortunately put into use in 2010 after the layoff of hundreds of official reporters in the state, thereby providing work and keeping certified shorthand reporters in civil courtrooms.)
  • He created a strategy that defeated more than 25 electronic recording bills between 1973 and 2003.
  • He wrote language that requires payment for transcripts on electronic media the same as a paper transcript. (At the time, the only thing in use was 5-inch floppy disks, so this was way ahead of its time.)
  • He defeated a bill that would have affected the sale of transcript copies.
  • He wrote language that indemnifies the CSR for production of rough drafts and realtime.
  • He negotiated an agreement with the Attorney General’s office prohibiting the sale or giving away of court reporter transcripts.
  • He appeared numerous times before the California state legislature to lobby and testify at hearings in support of court reporter legislation or against legislation harmful to freelance and official reporters.
  • He addressed the Judicial Council of California, where he explained how an electronic recording proposal would have negatively impacted freelance reporters and their transcript income.
  • He was the Legislative Advisor for CCRA from 1979 – 2001.
  • He participated in 1974-75 in Xerox Corporation’s pilot project to test and develop computer-aided transcription.
  • He served on California’s Court Reporter Board for four years, with two as its chair.
  • He convinced the California Court Reporter Board to conduct an experiment to test voice writers using computers on the same test as steno candidates to determine their ability and feasibility.
  • He chaired NCRA’s legislative committee for several years and led the effort to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to protect reporters.
  • He developed NCRA’s Legislative Boot Camp and participated in training future leaders for nine years. This translated into the California Action Team Training.
  • He was appointed by the Chief Justice of California as a member of the Reporting of the Record Task Force that resulted in a comprehensive report that addressed official and freelance reporting issues.
  • He coordinated pro bono CART reporting services for the House Ear Institute, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization with a mission to support people with hearing loss.
  • He testified on behalf of court reporter issues in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

This brief list does not even touch on the work he did for the Los Angeles court reporter organizations and the unions in California.

Gary twice served as president of CCRA. He was an RPR and a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from both CCRA and NCRA. In addition, he was awarded a special “Innovator” award by CCRA to recognize the true extent of the unique work he did for the profession.

It is not an exaggeration to say many reporters in California would not have a job as a court reporter today but for the efforts of Gary Cramer.

Arnella Sims, FAPR, RPR, CRR (Ret.)
Los Angeles, Calif.


NCRA Retired Member Leroy James Peterson passes

The Oskaloosa News reported on Sept. 4 that NCRA Lifetime Member Leroy James Peterson of Oskaloosa, Iowa, passed away on Aug. 30.

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Former NCRA Member Richard M. Metschl passes away

The Buffalo News reported on Aug. 19 that former NCRA member Richard M. Metschl, founder of Metschl Court Reporting, passed away in Buffalo, N.Y.

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Retired NCRA member Charlene Nicholas passes

Retired lifetime member of NCRA Charlene E. Nicholas, RPR (Ret.), passed away on July 25. She as a court reporter for the Dayton, Ohio, Municipal Courts before becoming a freelance court reporter and establishing her own company.

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In Memoriam: Freida Sclafani Williams

Freida Sclafani Williams

Freida Sclafani Williams

Freida Sclafani Williams passed away on June 3, 2018 after a long battle with cancer. Freida was an accomplished court reporter, dancer, and philanthropist. One of her many philanthropic passions was giving back to the court reporting profession, including as an Angel for the past 12 years, and as a member of NCRF’s Legacy Society.

To properly pay tribute to Freida, we asked two of her closest friends, Paula Laws and Tommy Crites, to share some thoughts about their dear friend.

Paula Laws | Freida, was a self-starter, taught at a very young age to be a progressive, independent business woman. She was raised in her mother’s court reporting business, and when she took over the business, raised it to even greater heights. She was also taught how very important it is to give back to the profession, which she did as President of FCRA and STAR. She also served on many committees. What she should be remembered for is her willingness to open her wallet (or raise her AMEX card) whenever there was a need in the profession. She always gave generously. Freida was unique, always commanding attention when she entered a room.  She will be greatly missed.

Tommy Crites | I want to start off by saying, the older we get, the more one realizes it’s not what happens, but how you deal with it. And I keep telling myself, time will ease the pain. For every life that fades, something beautiful remains.

The last two months of Freida’s life I had the pleasure serving as Frieda’s “houseboy” 24/7 overseeing Freida and all the many nurses. For all to know, the journey was sweet, thanks to Freida’s courage, and all the many prayers, cards, messages, flowers and visitors from all over the country.

I think Freida would want everyone to not be afraid to die. In those last six weeks at her beautiful home on Lake Hollingsworth, she continued each week to have her hair done, facials, her manis and pedis, her massages, all with a bottle of champagne. We had a champagne garden party that Paula Laws organized; the derby party with hats and champagne; a Royal Wedding Day which started for us at 5:30 a.m. with hats and champagne; a Mother’s Day turkey dinner with champagne, actually a week early, as we lost all track of time.  All the while, through the busy weeks, dozens of visitors coming to say goodbye, and Freida tending each day to unfinished business, such as personally arranging for her High Mass and most important to her planning the party following the service at the Huntington Hills Country Club with lots of decorations, flowers, food, champagne, and a SW champagne glass for every guest to take home.

A typical Tuesday: changing of the nurses at 7:00 a.m.; the yard boys would arrive at 8:00 a.m.; LoLee Duncan, the angel who for over 20 years took care of the upkeep of the lake house and beach house, would arrive by 9:00 a.m.; Vivian, her housekeeper would arrive before 10:00 a.m., as would the dog groomer and Cora Hutson, her bookkeeper of over ten years; and there was the army of eight lake cleaners that would come. And the flowers and food would be arriving all day, and the boy who sprayed her beautiful roses would find his way in, as did the gator control guy. Freida in control all the while on her walkie-talkie. And I was busy fixing her beautiful food trays.

With the changing of the nurses at 7:00 p.m., everyone gone, Freida and I would watch a movie, go through her cards, and look through boxes and boxes of pictures going back 70 years, and laughing all the while. She and I never shared tears together, only laughter.

For over five decades much has been written about Sclafani Williams Court Reporters, Rosie and Freida, regarding their many contributions to the court reporting profession, their loyal support to FCRA, NCRA, NCRF, NNRC, and many other organizations, and we all know about their many awards and accomplishments, so let me share a bit more.

What I think most people are not aware, in the early 50s Freida began a dancing career at the Betsye Kay Dancing School, and the last program I found was the 25th Annual Dance Review in May of 1978 where Freida was still performing. She was a very accomplished flamenco dancer as well in the late 50s and early 60s. Freida also went to modeling school and had a short history as a model.

Freida also had a love for running, and made many long-distance runs across the country.  And the only complaint and concern the last two months, “I don’t understand why I can’t walk or use my legs.”  But she was blessed with no physical pain until the last 72 hours, and her mind was sharp until we had to administer the painkillers.

I hope everyone will remember Freida as The Lady in Red, with the Janis Joplin stomp, a marvel of life, a heart of gold, feisty, funny, a true angel, was almost always right and made sure everyone else knew it, and all who knew her will never forget how beautiful she was, that beautiful smile and that glint in her eyes. On behalf of Freida, I wish to thank everyone for your many prayers, cards, flowers and kind words.

Freida’s legacy should be that she stayed on course…from the beginning to the end, because she had a passion for everything that she believed in.

And Freida would like these words, “There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.”  Cheers to you, Freida.

IN MEMORIAM: Freida Sclafani Williams

Freida Sclafani Williams

Freida Sclafani Williams

Freida Sclafani Williams died on June 3, 2018, after a long fight with cancer. Born on Aug. 10, 1944, in Deland, Fla., the only child of Rosie and John Sclafani, Freida was full of ambition. As a young girl, Freida was a talented dancer, with the skill and dedication to make this her profession. Instead, she went on to forge one of the most successful court reporting careers in Florida.

Court reporting piqued her interest at an early age. When she was 9 years old, she placed the carbon between the sheets of paper to help her mother type transcripts for the court reporting firm then-named Rosie Sclafani and Associates. After attending the University of South Florida, she became the judicial assistant to former Circuit Judge A.H. Lane. In 1962, Freida enrolled in the Stenotype Institute of Jacksonville and joined her mother’s firm as a court reporter in 1971.

In 1979, Freida was appointed a state official court reporter and served in that position until 1995. During this time, she also oversaw the daily operations of the Lakeland office. In 1980, the name of the firm was changed to Sclafani Williams Court Reporters, Inc. Five years later, Freida became president of the company to continue her mothers legacy once Rosie fell ill. Under Freida’s keen management, the business was the first in the area to integrate new technologies, such as video conferencing and digital reporting, and by the end of her career, she had opened 6 office locations.

Among her many recognitions and achievements, Freida served as president of the Florida Court Reporters Association (FCRA) from 1999-2000 and was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Service Award by FCRA in 2002. She was the recipient of the National Association of Women’s Business Owners “Women of Distinction Award” and Sclafani Williams Court Reporters, Inc., was listed in the Tamp Bay Business Journal’s top 75 women-owned business in the state of Florida in 2003 and 2004. She also served as vice president of the Florida Official Court Reporter Association, an organization committed to court reporting education.

More often than not, Freida wore black, red, and white with a sparkling swan pin, symbolizing her love of Lakeland. She will be remembered for her commitment to service both the court reporting and Polk County communities while helping others achieve their dreams. Throughout her 36-year career, she mentored and encouraged countless court reporting interns — teaching them business strategies and best practices. In addition, she was heavily involved in the Society for Technological Advancement of Reporting, eventually becoming president in 2007, and was part of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the National Court Reporters Association, the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, and the National Network Reporting Company. In Polk County, she helped fundraise for the restoration of the historic Polk Theater, supported the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and provided pro bono video conferencing services to the Polk Museum of Art.

Freida believed that being involved in the community she loved was her strength: “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.” She will be missed.

Tom Crites
Savannah, Ga.