Friends for life

No food fights

Stanley Fine (left) and Ben Rosenberg

Image caption: Colleagues Stanley Fine (left) and Ben Rosenberg remain just as close as they were back in their fraternity days.

Credit: Maximilian Franz / The Daily Record

When Ben Rosenberg, A&S '65, arrived on Homewood campus in 1962, he knew it would help to have someone show him the ropes. Luckily for him, his buddy Stanley Fine, A&S '65, who had been a year ahead of him at Baltimore City College, was a fellow Blue Jay. They had known each other since Hebrew school, but their friendship galvanized during those undergraduate years when Rosenberg pledged Fine's fraternity, Phi Sigma Delta.

At Johns Hopkins, Rosenberg—originally on the pre-med track—surprised himself, discovering an intellectual curiosity in the liberal arts and graduating within three years. Fine, meanwhile, supplemented his studies with lacrosse victories on Homewood Field, which "is like Yankee Stadium for a kid from City College." As a midfielder, he helped the 1965 team to a national second-place finish behind Navy.

"We took our academics seriously, and as a group we scored a cumulative 3.5 GPA in my senior year. We held each other accountable for doing our best."
Ben Rosenberg

But it was the Phi Sig life that defined their friendship, along with 25 other brothers who still get together at least twice every year, in New York City for the holidays and back at Johns Hopkins for Alumni Weekend. As the latter event's organizer, Fine feels compelled to stand up at the Hopkins Club dinner each year and remind everyone, "No food fights!"—an annual rite of pledge weekend formals that got them disinvited from hotels all across town. Rosenberg quickly adds that it wasn't all shenanigans: "We took our academics seriously, and as a group we scored a cumulative 3.5 GPA in my senior year. We held each other accountable for doing our best."

After graduation, Rosenberg briefly attended law school at Penn before joining Fine at the University of Maryland. When the Vietnam War escalated in 1966, they joined the Coast Guard and served five months on the same ship together. "We learned a lot about people, living at sea in close quarters," Fine recalls. Upon returning to law school, they were almost always together—especially during the 30 days leading up to the bar exam, which they spent huddled down in D-level of JHU's Eisenhower Library.

Rosenberg became a well-known trial lawyer and founded his own firm in 1987, while Fine directed and chaired the Maryland Lottery before becoming a top attorney in Baltimore's real estate development industry. But then, in 1997, after one of their frequent lunch meetings, Rosenberg realized he should ask Fine to join his firm. "I was happy where I was at the time," Fine says, "but it took me all of two minutes to say yes."

Twenty years later, they still haven't exchanged a cross word (a rarity in law, Fine asserts). They are in each other's office several times a day, and, as Rosenberg says, "We're just as much at ease as if we were still in the fraternity house." "I have the best of it all," Fine says. "I work at a job I love, and I get to do it with my best friend."

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Tagged alumni