July 6, 2011
A Colleague Lost: Rest in Peace, David Getches
David Getches, who was the University of Colorado Law School dean until last week, passed away Tuesday. Less than a month ago, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
I had only met David a few times, but he is someone I will miss. I knew about David long before I met him. In law school, I was excited to take a Native American Law seminar, where I read a number of his writings. At that point, he was something of a rock star to me, in a scholarly sort of way.
Over the past four years, I have had the privilege to serve as the University of North Dakota School of Law's Trustee to the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, which is where I had the opportunity to meet David. We never talked much (I mostly watched and listened), but in my experience, he was someone who commanded respect, but never demanded it.
About this time last year I had the pleasure of sharing an airport shuttle with David back to Calgary (from Banff). I wanted to speak with him, but I did not want to bug him, either. I briefly re-introduced myself, then quietly went back to reading. At one point, though, I decided to ask a question; I'm glad I did. We had a nice conversation for the rest of the ride, where he shared with me some of his experiences as a, lawyer, law professor, and dean. He talked as someone who truly loved his career, his family and friends, and his life.
David's primary focus was Indian law and natural resources law, which is not directly relevant here. But David's expertise was far broader that those subject areas. As lawyer, a law professor, and law dean, he influenced the entire legal community, in addition to students and the academy, in way that will last well beyond his time with us.
Even after meeting David, he remains something of a rock star to me, and I'm honored to have spent a little time with him. My thoughts are with his family and friends. He will be missed.
I never had the opportunity to meet David Getches. A few years ago, however, I wrote an article on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, an act which caused Alaskan Native groups to form corporations for purposes of receiving settlement to land claims. I referred regularly to Dean Getches's scholarship. The quality of his work is beyond peradventure. He definitely will be missed.
Posted by: Eric Chaffee | Jul 6, 2011 10:37:36 AM