Academic journal article Texas Law Review

Dean Page Keeton: A Tribute

Academic journal article Texas Law Review

Dean Page Keeton: A Tribute

Article excerpt

We were the lucky one hundred. The section in the first year class assigned to Dean Page Keeton. Thirty-five years ago this Fall, I stepped into his class, ready to study at the foot of a legend. His intellect, his voice, his humor, and his energy were unique, beyond description. We knew that we were participating in something special.

We quickly learned that Dean Keeton was proud of the law of torts, his chosen field of study. Although it is a challenging academic subject, he loved it primarily for another reason: torts has great social utility. Time and time again, he would ask us why the law had evolved to create a particular behavior. We soon came to know the answer, but we would never speak it. Having him say it was simply too much fun. After no response came to his question, he would pause and then almost shout the answer, in his wonderful Clarksville East Texas accent: "If the rule were any other way, it would be ruinous to society." The word "ruinous" was not, of course, pronounced according to Mr. Webster's recommendation. Instead, it was drawn out into several syllables and sounded something like "rurinn-no-us. "

To us, Dean Keeton was not only a great teacher: he was also a great scholar. One could talk about Prosser and all the rest, but we knew that he had no equal in torts. And we were prepared to argue forever with anyone who suggested otherwise. Indeed, we believed that no one was his intellectual equal period. (We later moderated the view slightly, after we studied at the foot of another master, Charles Alan Wright.) The primacy of his intellect was a widely shared opinion. I remember a large alumnifaculty gathering several years ago, chaired by then Dean Mark Yudof, who commented that there had not been such intellectual fire power assembled in one room of the Law School since Dean Keeton dined alone. …

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