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June 9, 2005

OBITUARY: Kathryn Heidt

Law professor Kathryn R. Heidt, 51, died on May 24, 2005, of complications from heart surgery. She had been a member of the Pitt law faculty since 1995.

“She really was a pioneer at the intersection of bankruptcy and environmental law,” said Dean David Herring. “Her work will be missed in both our commercial and environmental law programs. She was unique — that makes the loss devastating.”

Heidt chaired the business bankruptcy committee of the American Bar Association and was the former chair of that group’s programs and publications subcommittee. “She forged a lot of strong relationships with those committee members,” said Herring. “Kate’s death is a real loss for our profession.”

Herring noted that the bankruptcy committee is in the process of setting up a fund to benefit Heidt’s daughter Valerie, 8, whom she adopted in Russia.

“We got to know her well with the adoption of her daughter,” Herring said. “She was just such a kind person with a high level of energy and congeniality.” Heidt was popular with her students, particularly in a course about negotiations where she helped students sharpen their skills in interacting with others and negotiating issues. “She was able to forge positive relationships with everybody. Kate was good at getting a group going and she was very skilled,” Herring added.

Before coming to Pitt, Heidt was a professor and an associate law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit from 1985 to 1995. She also was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Heidt served as a law clerk for the Hon. John T. Patton, Ohio Court of Appeals in Cleveland, 1978-80, and was an associate at Duane, Morris & Heckscher in Philadelphia, 1980-84.

She graduated from Pennsylvania State University cum laude, majoring in art history. She earned her J.D. from Cleveland State University College of Law, graduating magna cum laude. Heidt received her Master of Laws degree from Yale.

She was the author of “Environmental Obligations in Bankruptcy,” a treatise on the intersection of bankruptcy law and environmental liabilities. She published in such journals as American Bankruptcy Law Journal, The Business Lawyer, Columbia Law Journal, Ohio State Law Journal, Rutgers Law Review and American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review.

She was a frequent lecturer to professional and academic groups, as well as to judicial groups, including the Judicial Conference of the Third Circuit and the Federal Judicial Center programs for bankruptcy judges. She also testified on bankruptcy reform before the National Economic Council at the invitation of the White House and appeared before the National Bankruptcy Review Commission.

In addition to her daughter, Heidt is survived by her father Joseph Heidt of Philadelphia; a brother, Joseph Heidt Jr. of Bellefonte, Pa., and her former husband, Martin Kriegel of Ann Arbor, Mich.

Contributions may be sent to the Professor Kathryn R. Heidt Memorial Scholarship Fund, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 3900 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh 15260 or the American Cancer Society, 320 Bilmar Dr., Pittsburgh 15205.

—Mary Ann Thomas

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