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November 22, 2000

OBITUARY: David R. Bookstaver

David R. Bookstaver, professor of law emeritus in the School of Law, died Oct. 30, 2000, in Port Orange, Fla. He was 95.

Bookstaver joined the faculty of Pitt's School of Law in September 1957 and served until his retirement as emeritus professor in 1975. His fields of expertise were estate planning, wills and trusts and federal estate taxation. He was the author of several treatises in the estates and trusts field.

Bookstaver, during his years with Pitt's law school, was a dedicated teacher. The needs of the school, his colleagues and his students was his central concern.

Upon his retirement, the spring 1976 issue of the University of Pittsburgh Law Review was dedicated to him. It contained not only a moving tribute to him, but also articles that do credit to his career.

Bookstaver received his A.B. in 1926 from Cornell University and his LL.B. from Yale in 1928. He did graduate work in the law school for a year following graduation. He practiced in New York City from 1929 to 1934 and in East Hampton, New York, from 1934 to 1942.

Bookstaver served as an attorney in the Office of Price Administration from 1942 to 1943, when he became chairman of the Foreign Agents Registration Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, serving until 1947.

In 1947 he became dean and professor at the Washington College of Law of American University. He served until 1956, when he resigned over the failure of the university president to follow academic procedures. A law professor had been summarily dismissed without a hearing or general due process on the grounds that he was cited by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and Dean Book-staver vigorously objected. When his objection produced no results, he resigned and spent the next year as a senior fellow at Yale Law School.

At the time of the trouble at American University, Professor Clark Byse, who was then head of the A.A.U.P. Committee on Academic Freedom, said: "One man, in my judgment, comes out of this unhappy incident with real glory and that man is the former dean of this law school, Mr. David R. Bookstaver. He was the one who invited the attention of our committee to this matter. He is the one who, as it appears in this report, stood up for the principles of academic freedom and fairness before his president and before the board of trustees."

His wife, Rachel, preceded him in death. He is survived by two daughters and a son.

–W. Edward Sell

(Editor's note: The author is dean emeritus and distinguished service professor of law emeritus in Pitt's School of Law.)

Filed under: Feature,Volume 33 Issue 7

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