Monday, January 29, 2018

In Memoriam: Peter Appel

From Jamie Baker Roskie:

It is with deep shock and sorrow that I report the death of my friend and mentor, Peter Appel.  Peter was the Alex W. Smith Professor at University of Georgia School of Law.  He had a deep expertise in environmental law, having served as an attorney with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice prior to joining the UGA faculty. Peter began teaching at UGA in 1997, shortly before I became a student there.  I took his environmental law and natural resources law courses, and I so enjoyed his teaching.  And then, when I returned to UGA as a faculty member, he welcomed me back warmly and became a mentor and friend.

He was a tough teacher, and he did not brook foolishness in the classroom. I still remember the look he would get when one of my classmates’ cell phones rang in class, or when it was obvious someone hadn’t read the cases.  His exams were epically difficult.  But, he loved teaching and he tried, through goofy jokes, songs, and a general love of the subject matter, to make learning the law joyful. (One of our former students says she still remembers him singing “Tiny Dancer” in his property class. I have no idea why, but I’m sure it reinforced some legal principle.)

Peter was also a leading light in the scholarly community, publishing widely on natural resources issues, including a casebook on wilderness law.  He also continued to teach and mentor folks in the public sector, including teaching regularly at a federal training facility in Missoula, Montana.  He mentored many junior faculty members, and the shock of his passing resonates throughout the legal academy.

I don’t think I ever adequately conveyed to Peter my appreciation for all the knowledge and kindness he provided me through the years.  He was in significant pain the last few years, due to neck and back issues and related surgeries. But we communicated frequently through Facebook messages and emails, and his wit and heart were as keen as ever. 

We will miss you, Peter. The world is a much poorer place for your passing.

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I just got off the phone with a good friend and fellow Section Y classmate who had texted me about the news. I am so sad. He was am excellent professor and I regret that I lost touch with him.

Posted by: Harry Dixon | Jan 29, 2018 5:16:29 PM

Should have read "an excellent professor."

Posted by: Harry Dixon | Jan 29, 2018 5:18:44 PM

This is such sad and shocking news. Professor Appel had a big impact on me as a student and later as a mentor, when he encouraged me to apply to ENRD and then guided me through the application process with helpful tips. And he did it all with good humor and a smile. What more could you want from a law professor? We lost touch until last summer, when we exchanged emails and I came to his class to talk about careers in environmental law. I’m glad I got to see him then. He’ll be missed.

Posted by: Gabe Allen | Jan 31, 2018 8:29:50 AM