IN MEMORIAMThe Honorable Richard B. Teitelman, Missouri Supreme Court Judge and WashULaw Alumnus
Missouri Supreme Court Judge and Law School National Council member Richard B. Teitelman, JD ’73, is remembered by friends and colleagues for his long-standing commitment to access to justice and his generous service to WashULaw. Judge Teitelman, 69, passed away on Tuesday, November 29, 2016.
A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Graham Memorial Chapel; a reception will follow in Crowder Courtyard, Anheuser-Busch Hall.
“Judge Richard Teitelman is one of our most distinguished alumni and a beloved member of our community,” said Dean Nancy Staudt, the Howard and Caroline Cayne Professor of Law. “He will be deeply missed as a colleague, friend, exemplary public servant, and dedicated alumnus. I personally have benefitted from his wise counsel and wonderful sense of optimism. His impressive career is testimony to his unwavering commitment to access to justice, and his longtime service to our school has benefitted us in innumerable ways.”
David Becker, the Joseph H. Zumbalen Professor Emeritus of the Law of Property, observed: “I have had thousands of students in over 50 years at Washington University School of Law, and I know of no one who has had a greater impact upon me and upon our community, especially those in need of justice.”
As one of the first students with a visual disability to attend WashULaw, Judge Teitelman often credited its faculty and staff for much of his success. He spent his years following graduation as an active and strong supporter of the school, including its Clinical Education Program and as a scholarship donor. In 2002-03, he served as a jurist in residence, mentoring students and holding small group discussions about the role of the judiciary and judicial decision-making. Most recently, he was instrumental in helping to bring members of the Missouri Supreme Court to WashULaw for the school’s 150th Anniversary Convocation Ceremony.
In addition to Judge Teitleman’s many professional achievements, Becker noted his exemplary counsel to students about jobs and careers, as well as his passion for life and making a difference. “I have never known Rick to refuse a request when it came to our students,” Becker said. “He was always there, always contributing to students, and always wanting to serve a school he deeply appreciated and loved.”
An insightful jurist, Judge Teitelman had served on the Missouri Supreme Court since March 2002 and was chief justice from July 2011 through June 2013. He previously served on the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri for four years. Prior to his judicial appointments, he worked for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM), joining the organization in 1971 as a volunteer and serving as executive director from 1980 until his appellate appointment. He is widely credited with transforming LSEM from a fledging organization to a major provider of legal services to low-income and disadvantaged Missourians.
In an interview with the Washington University School of Law Magazine, Judge Teitelman observed: “There’s nothing more gratifying than helping people get access to justice.”
His own life experiences fueled his passion for providing legal services to the poor. “I grew up in a lower-income neighborhood in West Philly and understand how that can affect a person’s sense of worth and dignity; I also grew up with a disability,” said Judge Teitelman, who was legally blind. “I found out that people need help from others. I received help from so many that I wanted to give back.”
A dedicated alumnus, Judge Teitelman received a Founders Day Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002 and the law school’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999. He was inducted as an honorary member of the Order of the Coif in 1996.
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