IN MEMORIAM: PROFESSOR EMERITUS RICHARD O. KUMMERT/Foreword: A Tribute

Washington Law Review, October 2012 | Go to article overview

IN MEMORIAM: PROFESSOR EMERITUS RICHARD O. KUMMERT/Foreword: A Tribute


The Washington Law Review dedicates its October 2012 issue to Professor Richard O. Kümmert who passed away last April at the age of seventy-nine. Professor Kümmert served as the faculty advisor to the Washington Law Review for over four decades. The success of this publication owes, in many ways, to Professor Kummert's steadfast guidance. The following memorial remarks come from his former students, colleagues, and friends. Many, but not all, of these remarks have been graciously adapted from speeches given at Professor Kummert's memorial service, which was held at the University of Washington School of Law on April 29, 2012.

Foreword: A Tribute

Kellye Y. Testy1

When Professor Richard O. Kümmert passed away on April 17, 2012, the walls of Gates Hall shook with grief and loss. Our colleague, who we often affectionately referred to by what his initials "ROK" spell, was at the core of our foundation. We had leaned so heavily on him for so long that we teetered collectively before regaining our footing to honor his life and the values for which he stood so firm for so long. This tribute issue of our Washington Law Review continues our celebration of Professor Kümmert, truly our "ROK."

Professor Roland Hjorth - his friend, colleague, and former dean - notes in his moving tribute that Professor Kümmert joined UW Law in 1964 after working in private practice. Professor Kümmert was an extraordinarily well-educated man, having degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology (B.S. 1953), the University of Illinois (C.P.A. 1954), Northwestern University (M.B.A. 1955) and Stanford University (LL.B. 1961). He was promoted quickly to the rank of professor in 1967 and taught continuously through 2010, primarily in the area of corporate law. Professor Kümmert was honored in 1994 with the D. Wayne and Anne Gittinger Professorship and in 2007 with the naming of a classroom in his honor.

As Professor Hjorth notes, we always had to proceed carefully and often indirectly in recognizing Professor Kümmert because he had little time or appreciation for being in the spotlight. Instead, Professor Kümmert believed in institutional service for the sake of it. He was a role model in this regard, doing so much of everything that "needs doing" around the law school over the course of his career. He cared deeply and passionately about his students, his profession, and his school - not about getting credit or building a resume. Professor Kümmert was the advisor to the Washington Law Review for over 40 years, a position in which he played a vital mentoring role to so many of our student leaders as his former student, now Professor, Robert Gomulkiewicz explores in his poignant tribute. Professor Kümmert served several deans as an Associate Dean, a demanding and critical role in the law school. He also served for years as Executive Director of the Law School Foundation and was a driving force in helping to maintain that Foundation's health and autonomy. Perhaps most significantly, he led our admissions process for decades. In that latter role, as Professor William Andersen's insightful tribute explains, he was at the vortex of complex and challenging anti-affirmative action litigation that involved important and nationally recognized litigation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Professor Kümmert' s influence extended beyond the law school into the Washington legal community. He was (and through his published work will remain) an influential expert in corporate law, having founded and served as a guiding force on the Washington State Bar Association's (WSBA) Corporation Act Committee for nearly three decades. He was recognized with the President's Award by the WSBA in 1989 for his contributions to revisions to the Washington business corporation act. As Paula Littlewood, a former student and colleague, and now Executive Director of the WSBA notes in her tribute, Professor Kummert's wisdom and insights were always in demand.

As the current dean of this great law school, I share Professor Kummert's love for the institution and all of its constituents. …

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