Preston Sandy Scher
Hon. Preston Sandford “Sandy” Scher, J.D., 81, died in Westchester NY, on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021.
Survivors include wife Valerie Scher of New Rochelle; son David Scher (Joanne Bagshaw) and his children Noah and Molly; daughter Shari Scher and her daughter Sharon (Steven) Johnson and their son Ian Johnson; and son Steven (Marcia) Scher and their children Benjamin and Gregory; and siblings Floyd Scher, and Leslie Scher (Dr. Dean) Dobbin; and sister-in-law Barbara Olian Scher. He was predeceased by his parents, and his brother Dr. Michael L. Scher.
Born January 21, 1940, in Queens, to Robert Scher and Sylvia Fisher Scher, he made Dean’s Honor Roll at the University at Buffalo where he graduated with a B.A. in philosophy in 1961. He greatly enjoyed his studies in college, and was captain of the school’s fencing team. Scher received a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1964, where he graduated with honors. The same year, Scher married Valerie Fernebok, and they settled in New Rochelle, raising David, Shari, and Steven.
Scher worked as a partner at the New York City law firm of Fried, Greenbaum, Spector, Scher, Schwartz and Feldman, and served as a legislative assistant in the New York State Senate. He was appointed Chief Counsel to New York State Assemblyman Gordon W. Burrows, later serving as a member on the New Rochelle City Council (1976-1979), chairman of the Zoning Board, and deputy mayor. Scher worked as Acting Family Court Judge and Acting Family Drug Treatment Court Judge in New Rochelle. He served as Acting New Rochelle City Court Judge (1991-1995), followed by senior Judge at the Court (1996-2010).
He gave back to his community in multiple capacities, including roles as: president of Temple Israel of New Rochelle, Little League manager, president of the Scarsdale Park Association, vice president of the New Rochelle Council of Neighborhood and Civic Associations, neighborhood commissioner of the Boy Scouts of America in the Huguenot District, and was active with the Coalition for Mutual Respect. He was an American Ideals Scout Honoree, recipient of the Youth Services Award from the New Rochelle Tom Paine Lodge, B’nai B’rith, and received the Golden Anniversary Recognition Award from the Boys Club of New Rochelle.
As the chief City Court Judge of New Rochelle, Scher was instrumental in the foundation of the Drug Court, to help those dealing with mental health and substance use problems seek treatment and alternatives to sentencing, with the goal of fostering positive contributions to society. He gained certification with the Adult Drug Court Planning Initiative by the National Drug Court Institute.
The New York State judicial monitoring organization, the Fund for Modern Courts, called Scher, “fair, helpful, compassionate and efficient”. The Fund stated he “took the time to be sure defendants’ rights were ‘protected’” and “carefully explained court proceedings”. The Fund said he moved “quickly and decisively” while being “polite” and “non-threatening” to those in his courtroom.
Upon his 2010 retirement, Scher was presented by League of Women Voters of New Rochelle president Cindy Kahn with a Congressional proclamation from Congresswoman Nita Lowey. The Congresswoman honored his 20-year venerable service on the New Rochelle City Court and 15 years as senior judge, as well as his efforts with the Drug Court.
For his service to the community and work on the Drug Court, Scher was presented with the 2013 Yitzhak Rabin Peacemaker Award by the Coalition for Mutual Respect, in a ceremony in the New Rochelle City Hall Chambers.
Sandy was a pianist and enjoyed jazzing up songs on the piano. He played bridge locally in Westchester, and was an avid golfer.
Broadcast journalist William O'Shaughnessy recounted Judge Scher’s work on the Drug Court in his 2010 book, Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files, writing that Scher meted out “positive reinforcement, compassion, encouragement, and understanding.”
O'Shaughnessy wrote, “WVOX has covered New Rochelle’s chief judges for the last thirty years, but Preston Scher is the finest and fairest judge to ever sit in a black robe and wield a gavel.”
Memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society (ACS) on Sandy’s Tribute Page http://main.acsevents.org/goto/sandyscher are welcomed by the family.