Sunday, May 9, 2010

Richard Graving, RIP

A couple of weeks ago my South Texas colleague Richard Graving passed away.  Prof. Graving taught international law subjects here for several decades after a long career of international practice around the globe.  He served in the Army, the legal profession, and the academy.  He was a phenomenal asset to the law school and the legal community, and as his obituary makes clear, he will be missed. Readers of this blog may not be familiar with Prof. Graving's scholarship because it is in a different area, but I do have one land-use-related story that I must relate.

Over the last couple of years I crossed paths with Richard quite often in the hallways and at the end or beginning of classes in the same room.  He was incredibly kind to us junior scholars.  We talked about Army service and other topics, but on one occasion we talked about one of the classic concepts of property law--the Rule Against Perpetuities.

I forget what prompted the topic--I think it was a basic "so how do you like teaching Property" type of question.  I said that I loved it.  Richard responded with a story about how, when he was at Harvard Law in the late 1940s, the most popular thing to do for the law students (still overwhelmingly male, of course) was to bring their dates from Radcliffe and Wellesley to sit in on Saturday morning Property Law lectures from the legendary Professor W. Barton Leach.  [Prof. Leach taught at Harvard 1929-1971.]  Apparently Prof. Leach was wildly entertaining.

"You had Barton Leach for Property?" I asked, starstruck.  "He's still a legend in the subject-- he's also the one who came up with all of those interesting concepts for understanding the Rule Against Perpetuities . . . like the 'fertile octogenarian,' and the 'unborn widow.'"

"Fertile octogenarian?" Richard replied.  "Well, that makes sense, because that's what he wanted to be!"

From the legend to Prof. Graving to me to you.  Ave atque vale.  

Matt Festa

History, Property Theory, Scholarship | Permalink

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