In an emotional ceremony during its annual Conclave in Vancouver last week, the American Gem Society posthumously awarded its prestigious Robert M. Shipley Award to Bob Speisman, the late marketing manager of Lazare Kaplan who was aboard American Airlines flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
Longtime AGS jeweler and board member Bill Underwood presented the award, citing Speisman’s achievements in restructuring the service and diamond departments at Lazare Kaplan when he joined the firm in the 1970s. He was an active registered supplier member of AGS, had served on its board of trustees for seven years, and was the board’s chairman. He was also a co-founder of the AGS Gem Laboratory.
“He was a prime candidate for the Robert M. Shipley Award before [he died],” said Underwood. “He was accomplished, always optimistic, and has a smile as big as the Montana sky.”
Maurice and Leon Tempelsman of Lazare Kaplan, Speisman’s father-in-law and brother-in-law, accepted the award on behalf of Speisman and his family. The elder Tempelsman thanked AGS for the recognition of his son-in-law’s leadership and, in an eloquent and tear-filled description of Speisman’s character, recalled how he was headed to Vancouver for an AGS board meeting that fateful morning. “He’d have loved to receive this award. He was blessed with so many life-enhancing qualities, and I know he would have accepted this award with a high-five.”
Wiping away tears, Tempelsman turned to Underwood, and gave him the high-five for his son-in-law.