A Tribute to Eugene Scoles
The University of Oregon School of Law mourns the loss of former Dean and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Eugene Scoles, who passed away on Friday, Oct. 11, at the age of 92.
Funeral services for Scoles will be held at Musgrove's Springfield Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home, 7305 Main St., Springfield, Ore., on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m.
Visitation will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, and from noon to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at Musgrove Family Mortuary, 1152 Olive St., Eugene, Ore.
The family suggests memorial contributions be sent to the Eugene F. Scoles Excellence in Teaching Fund.
Gene Scoles was instrumental in transforming Oregon Law into a modern law school during his deanship (1968 through 1974) – a transformation from which Oregon Law still benefits. Gene retired as a Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Oregon in 1982. He is a life member of the American Law Institute, Society of the Public Teachers of Law, life fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He received awards for outstanding achievement and contribution to legal education and law improvement from the University of Oregon, St. Mary's University, and the National College of Probate Judges. Tributes and dedications to him were published in the Oregon Law Review, the University of Illinois Law Review, and the Elder Law Review.
Gene Scoles has had a transformational impact on our law school. For decades, his perspective, his voice, and his values have served as our institutional anchors. During his deanship, Oregon Law made a bold transition into a modern law school, a transition we have continued in the decades since then. As dean, as a professor, and as an emeritus member of our faculty, Gene has mentored new students, new faculty, and new deans. I could not ask for a better model of vision, wisdom, and professionalism.
Our school, our state, and our profession owe much to Gene Scoles.
– Michael Moffitt, Philip H. Knight Dean, University of Oregon School of Law
Gene Scoles is one the most respected and distinguished people ever to serve on the University of Oregon Law School faculty. He was president of the American Association of Law Schools and a leading scholar who helped shape the modern law of Trusts and Estates and of Conflict of Laws. His former students are leaders of legal communities around the country and of many law schools.
Gene Scoles is also my dear friend. He returned to Oregon a few years after I joined the faculty, and we quickly found common ground in teaching wills and trusts. He has always been one of my most trusted advisors. Every time I brought him a problem, from issues of law school governance to caring for my aging mother, he listened carefully and gave me great advice. He is gentle and kind and wise, and his views are always grounded in a strong sense of what's ethical and honorable.
Gene is also great fun. My husband and i have spent many happy hours socializing with him and others he has brought together. He clearly loves people and is so good at creating situations in which they can relax and enjoy each others' company. I think this is one of the keys to his success as a leader.
And he is a fantastic gardener! For years he brought his bonsai azaleas in when they were in bloom, sharing them with all of us in the law school. Every spring we discuss our vegetable patches, and he always has the first peas and greens. He told me the other day that they've been eating beans from his garden for awhile. Mine, of course, have just begun to bloom.
Oregon is so lucky that Gene decided to return to Eugene after his second stint in Illinois, and that he decided to rejoin the law school community. We have all benefited so much from his work and the experience he has shared with us. And no one has benefited more than I.
– Leslie Harris, Dorothy Kliks Fones Professor, University of Oregon School of Law
When Gene Scoles talks, everyone listens. His constant attention to the health and welfare of legal education, and the University of Oregon School of Law in particular, has been profound. His wisdom is consistently valuable. Most importantly, the reason everyone stops and listens is that Gene shares his perspective with ultimate professionalism. He treats every idea and person with respect, thus allowing us to hear his questions, thoughts, and opinions with ease. The combination of his intelligence, strong value system, and deep commitment to civil discourse has had an immeasurably wide and deep impact on Oregon Law.
–Jane Gordon, former Associate Dean for Student and former Program Affairs Director, Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center, University of Oregon School of Law
Way back in 1970, when I was a baby law professor at the University of Oregon, my colleagues and I were wont to refer to Gene Scoles as the “clean, lean, mean Dean.” In fact, the adjective “mean” was no more appropriate than the word “teen” would have been. Gene was, of course, far beyond his teens when first we met; and, in fact, he was neither old nor mean. Still, he and some of my then-colleagues struck me as fairly stuffy or grumpy middle-aged men, while I saw myself as the vibrant 31-year-old mother of a three-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. In retrospect, I realize that I had a rather skewed view of a lot of things during the period when I was the only — although, thanks in large part to Gene, never lonely — woman on the law faculty.
If truth be told, however, I was always not only an admirer but an outright fan of Gene Scoles. Perhaps his most endearing attribute, from my perspective, was his love of partying – and good wine. For years, the bar was open at the home of Gene and Helen Scoles at least one night per week, and almost every member of the law faculty could be found there. Rafael and I still talk about those old days, and all of our recollections are fond ones.
In recent years, Gene and his loving partner, Dorothy Gill, have built upon the friendship that they and their respective but now-deceased spouses all formed with each other years ago; and the two of them have given Rafael and me the extreme pleasure of sharing in the continuance of their traditions of unlimited hospitality, warm and unquestioning camaraderie, and plenty of good times together.
Gene, you are one of the greatest men I have ever known.
– Barbara Aldave, retired professor, University of Oregon School of Law
A fond memory I have of you is when I joined the law school in 2000. You walked up to me and introduced yourself. I almost fell out of the chair–you not only looked like my father, you both were handsome and possessed a certain look—a gleam in your eyes. And, come to find out, you were both born almost on the same exact day.
I enjoyed every opportunity I had to work with you, from your journal to technical issues. Some caused us both to want to pull our hair out, specifically the speech to text program! Wasn't that fun? : )
When you came up to the 4th floor about 3 weeks ago and asked me to help you with an RSVP and a letter, I was happy to help you, as always. Gene, every time you said thank you, I felt your warm heart and enjoyed that sparkle in your eye. I have always felt appreciated by you. Thank YOU.
Warm thoughts and wishes from my heart,
–Debby Warren, Faculty Support/Administrative Assistant, Oregon LL.M. Program in Environment and Natural, University of Oregon School of Law
It was good to see you on Tuesday afternoon and find you in such good spirits. I enjoyed chatting with you about your garden and the exquisite taste of a homegrown tomato. It’s curious how legal educators like us have such an interest in gardening. Maybe it’s a part of seeing things we have helped to grow, develop and mature.
I want to let you know how important it was to have you as the Dean and a good friend during those early years of my law teaching career. You brought a dynamic sense of growth and expectations to Oregon Law as you helped us develop into the modern flagship state law school we have become. Your insistence on excellence in all that we do from teaching and scholarship to public service established standards that remain models for us today.
I was in my first year of teaching in 1967 as we were searching for a new dean to lead us into the modern era of legal education. In the interview talks you gave in old Fenton Hall, I recall you were frank with us, that as dean, you would expect excellence in all that we did. You impressed and inspired us, and scared the hell out of us at the same time. Your Illinois Law School experience, scholarship, abilities, charm, and high standards easily made you our choice for dean. You didn’t disappoint. We went from 13 to about 23 faculty in your years, modernized and set high standards for admissions, doubled the number of students, built and moved into a new building, developed a modern curriculum, established a writing requirement, developed a moot court program, established one of the first clinical programs in the country and got a Ford Foundation grant to do it, started career services for our graduates, began an alumni development program, and much, much more.
On a personal level, I recall the presentations we would make to bar leaders and lawyer groups about the School’s improvements in teaching techniques, and about our new Legal Aid Clinical Program which became very successful through the efforts of Merv Loya and Bruce Smith. I also recall that you wanted to better interrelate the faculty with the legal community, and we worked together on a brief to the Oregon Supreme Court to get automatic admission to the Oregon bar for teachers who had been admitted elsewhere.
One other thing, Gene, apparently your driving skills were not comparable to your deaning abilities. Most vividly, I remember you driving us down a hill near 30th Avenue in a major snowstorm to pick up some faculty for an evening Holiday party at your home. You skidded us off the road and we ended up in a ditch. I expected better of an Illinois driver! Your deaning skills, on the other hand, were first class; you set us on a straight course, kept us on the road, and guided us into becoming the outstanding law school we are today.
With great admiration and affection dear friend, Dom.
–Dom Vetri, Professor Emeritus, University of Oregon School of Law
Gene is an extraordinary person. His passion for life includes excelling in so many things, ranging from his stellar career as a Trusts & Estates and Conflicts of Law scholar, his deanship at Oregon that brought the law school into the modern age, and his achievements as a breeder of world class German Shorthaired Pointer dogs. However, Gene is not only talented at all that he does, he is also extremely generous in sharing what he knows with others.
I was so fortunate to start out my substantive law teaching career as a Trusts and Estates teacher along side Gene who was the author of the textbook I used and the main drafter of the 1969 Oregon Probate Code. I sat in on his class one summer and he kindly provided me with his notes for both Trusts & Estates I and Trusts & Estates II (Future Interests) which enabled me to get through both those courses without the students knowing how little I knew. Even though he was a towering figure in academia, Gene was always interested in helping those of us starting out.
Gene continued his interests in legal academia in general and the UO Law School in particular well into his eighties. He'd even come to faculty meetings! And he was a fixture on the third floor, with his door open, ready to share a conversation about law reform, academia, gardening or dogs.
Thank you Gene for all you did for me and so many others.
–Caroline Forell, Clayton R. Hess Professor, University of Oregon School of Law
When I joined the law faculty Gene was no longer teaching, but he remained a wonderful presence at the law school. He was in his office every day, hard at work on a project for the Uniform Law Commission, the ABA, or some other group. His were often the most insightful comments in our faculty meetings, and he always had time to respond to my questions on trusts and estates or to offer an encouraging word on one of my projects. I was in awe of Gene – such a leader in my field and just down the hall – but Gene simply conveyed a sense of welcome that I know was felt by all of us. I think what has always impressed me most is that Gene is the best example possible of a gentleman-scholar. He worked because he loved the work, and he made a difference not only because he was smart and skillful but also because he cared about what he did.
–Susan Gary, Orlando J. and Marian H. Hollis Professor, University of Oregon School of Law
In the fall of 1968, I was working in the secretarial pool at the UO. I was sent to the Law School in Fenton Hall to type a manuscript for a professor. The job was to last 2 weeks. There I met Dean Scoles, who had arrived from Illinois not long before. After the job was completed, he and Mrs. A asked me to stay for another job. Then another, and another. Finally, Oregon Hall called them and said "Either hire her or send her back!" In the spring of 2000, I was honored when Dean Scoles spoke at my retirement dinner from the Oregon Law Review. Thirty-four years and 3 law school buildings later. It was a long two weeks.
I worked with Dean Scoles in many capacities during those years. Both in the Dean's office and later as his secretary when he returned from Illinois. We worked closely together on at least 3 dean searches, numerous AALS committees, UCC committees as well as editions of his textbooks. He made it all enjoyable.
I had to smile when I read Dom's comment about the big snow day. The Dean insisted he would come get all of us, that we shouldn't let 4 feet of snow get us down. When he arrived at my house I said "Ok, I'm going, but if you want me to work, you have to take my kids to the babysitter." And so he did. And after work he picked up the kids at the sitters and drove us home. No snowstorm could keep him down!
Nothing kept him down. He had incredible energy, 3 and 4 projects going at once, all the while serving on more committees than I can recall. Yet always time to ask how my husband was and how the kids were doing with their schools and sports.
I notice upon reading the above that I said I worked "with" Dean Scoles rather than "for" him. That's how he always made me feel, that we were a team working together. Mr. Scoles, you are an incredible man and it was my great pleasure to spend 34 years (minus a few here and there) figuring out your handwriting!
–Maxine Lee, former Administrative Specialist, Oregon Law Review and Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation
As others already have written, more eloquently than can I, Gene Scoles is truly a giant in the long history of American legal education and an amazing, wonderful human being.
I suppose he's not REALLY another Joseph Story, but he's close. Our school was a rather disastrous 19th-century relic when, in the mid-1960's, the University President and a group of faculty and alumni decided finally to do something about it. They searched nationally for a Superhero–someone who would bring to Oregon both a splendid academic record and the vision, courage, and people skills necessary to remake our school into one of which the University, indeed the entire state, could be proud. They found this guy Scoles at Illinois, and I have to say, he was damned close to perfect for the job.
Both during his years as Dean and for three decades thereafter, far more than any other single person, Gene helped transform our school. Doubling the faculty size, doubling or tripling the student body, building a new building, pushing us gently toward a more modern (and more public-interest-oriented) curriculum, and assisting in countless other improvements large and small, will forever be Gene's legacy at Oregon Law.
Beyond all that, however, as others have written, when my wife and I think of Gene Scoles, we think primarily of one of the very finest human beings we've ever been blessed to know. Unfailingly kind, thoughtful, generous, and supportive, Gene has been a true friend to us both for over four decades now. Love is a hard word to define, but if it has any core meaning at all, we love the man dearly.
Finally, gentle reader, may I remind you of Gene's single MOST OUTSTANDING life accomplishment: HE RAN A SIX-MINUTE MILE ON HIS 50TH BIRTHDAY! For years I vowed (secretly) to beat that record, but alas, I couldn't come close.
Gene Scoles, Lesley and I salute you, for all you've done and all you are. May the wind always be at your back, Dear Man.
–Jim Mooney, Professor Emeritus, University of Oregon School of Law
Eugene Scoles has a towering international reputation as a legal scholar. His career includes professorial appointments at leading universities and tenure as dean of the University of Oregon School of Law from 1968 to 1974. Following his deanship, Gene served as a distinguished professor of law at Oregon until his retirement in 1981.
Gene is widely and justly regarded as the dean whose vision transformed the scope and mission of the UO School of Law in the late '60s and '70s. He is known not only for his incredible hospitality, but also for his drive for excellence. During his deanship, he pursued a quest for excellence at the law school that continues to permeate our mission and goals. He created the belief and a driving sense that we could be better than our resources dictated. His energy was infectious and everyone got caught up in where this belief could lead us. Even today, faculty, staff, and students are benefitting from his vision and energy, even if they aren’t aware of it.
I will forever be in debt for the confidence that he extended to me personally — that I could make meaningful contributions to the law school, first as a faculty member, and then later as a dean. He remains good friends of my family, Lynn and me. We are ever-grateful for his presence in our lives.
–Dave Frohnmayer, Professor, Former Dean of the University of Oregon School of Law, University of Oregon President Emeritus
The JEB is thinking of you and all of the wonderful years we had together on the Board. You were always a great contributor to Board matters and a number of other suits and publications too numerous to mention. This was validated, of course, by giving you the Richard Wellman Award. I personally, as well as speaking for the Board, wish you the best — you are not only a colleague, but a friend.
– Malcolm Moore, Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
I have known Gene Scoles since 1941. In 1944 I became a member of the Scoles when i married his sister Phyllis Jane. After the Pearl Harbor event, Gene volunteered for the marines but was refused duty later because they found he had a heart fibrillation problem. Gene then went to work for a government ordinance plant near Carbondale, Illinois. It was here that Gene met his father's secretary, Helen, who would become his wife. I remember one of Gene's early paychecks when he took eight of us out to dinner. The bill was $18.00. Wow! I thought if I could only get a job paying that much. Gene was certainly building up my confidence in him.
Gene realized that construction engineering was not his cup of tea, so off he went to the University of Iowa. He went to get his law degree. When Gene's father and I were in a good mood, we would say, "Gene, can't you do better than become a lawyer!" These were misspent words because we knew with his sincerity and enthusiasm the law profession would reach new quality heights.
As I write this a feeling of warmth comes over me–I'm looking at a shelf of Gene's many law books. Gene used that poor old heart of his well. From Pearl Harbor on he proved that he could be the best he could be.
Friend and brother,
George Speranza, Austin, Texas
This is to repeat some history and comments I passed along to you last year on the occasion of your 90th Birthday and, by posting this to the UO Law School's tribute page, to share them with students and law graduates as well as with other friends of yours.
As you know, from 1964- 67, I was a student at the University Illinois College of Law. I had hoped to take a Wills, Trusts and Estates class from a legendary professor at Illinois by the name of Scoles. As it turned out, though, you were on sabbatical in the Sudan when I needed to take the class! I did, though, get to take your Conflict of Laws class the following year. I wasn't one of your top students, but you and John Cribbett were masters of the Socratic method and were diplomatic in dealing with those of us who didn’t always have the answers to your questions, and you would move tactfully to the next student on your list.
After my graduation from law school in 1967, I moved to Oregon, working as a Legal Aid lawyer in Portland, and was thrilled to learn a couple years later that you had become the dean of the UO Law School. When I moved to Eugene in 1970 as the director of the Lane County Legal Aid program, I had the pleasure of working with Prof. Vetri, who, with your backing, was setting up the civil clinic, the Law School's first clinical program.
Our paths crossed from time to time in the following years. Then, in 1986 I joined UO Law as its first Assistant Dean for Administration & Director of the Career Services Office. You were retired by then, but still teaching at Oregon from time to time, so I had the pleasure of working with you a bit, and our paths crossed regularly. While you were retired during that time, I saw you continue to be actively involved in the life of the School of Law, even attending faculty meetings. You often provided a perspective that had been missing in those meetings and were the voice of reason that helped moved the School in positive directions.
On a personal note, during my 20+ years at the law school I worked to build and maintain relations to the legal community in Lane County and in Oregon as well as with our alums around the country and overseas. You were always supportive of my efforts, and I deeply appreciated the encouragement you gave me.
Thanks, Gene, for all you’ve done for me and for so many others during your extraordinary career.
– Merv Loya, former Assistant Dean for Administration and Assistant Dean & Director, University of Oregon School of Law Career Services
Gene, I add my best wishes and deep respect for all that you have accomplished to the message that Mal Moore sent on behalf of the JEB. You were indirectly responsible for me teaching trusts and estates. When I joined the Illinois law faculty back in 1968, I wanted to teach antitrust and trade regulation. The dean, John Cribbett, told me that you had just left to become dean at Oregon and would I mind picking up the trusts and estates and future interests courses. Although I had never thought about teaching those courses, I said "Sure, OK." Instead of antitrust, you made me into a pro-trust guy!
–Larry Waggoner, Lewis M. Simes Professor Emeritus of Law, University of Michigan Law School
You are in my thoughts and prayers and you know how much we all care for you. Helen was the sister I never had and my family and I will always love you.
Always a sister,
I obviously join in Mal Moore's earlier message, but I also want you to know how much I have appreciated your mentoring over the years and how I treasure our lifetime of friendship.
My thoughts are with you,
–Edward C. Halbach Jr., Walter Perry Johnson Professor of Law (Emeritus), Berkeley Law
After reading the many tributes made to Gene Scoles, I want to add a personal side. He is my Uncle Gene whom I have known my entire life. It would take too long to write all my early memories, but they are treasures in my heart. One memory stands out vividly though and I would like to share it. As a little girl living on our farm outside Crocker, MO, Uncle Gene would bring Aunt Helen and my cousins to visit as often as possible. Once on the 4th of July, we were celebrating with fireworks, and back then kids held the Roman candles in the palm of their hands. So, naturally, I had to do the same, and yes, it backfired and burned my hand horribly. That’s when I actually fell in love with my uncle. His alert aid and compassion for me has forever remained a cherished memory.
Another memory I have is when he would come to the farm to bird hunt. Thus, another mutual love formed between us: dogs. Having had the privilege of raising two of Uncle Gene’s dogs was quite special. I’ve enjoyed going to dog shows to see he and Aunt Helen show, as well as show one of the dogs we had from them.
Uncle Gene, whether he was aware of this or not, was influential in my decision to continue my education. Having visited him on college campuses and seeing his and Aunt Helen’s love of learning, instilled in me the drive to complete my degrees. When I had completed my BS in Education, we had a long talk and discussed the benefits of pursuing a Specialist degree in Early Childhood at the University of MO Columbia. (He even came to my graduation!) I can’t thank him enough for encouraging a busy teacher/mother/wife to not give up her dreams!
Beyond all this though and foremost in valued memories, Uncle Gene was the epitome of what a husband should be. His love and devotion to my Aunt Helen certainly went beyond measure and our family loves him dearly for all he did throughout her life. Aunt Helen was what my Daddy called “his baby sister” since she was the youngest of his three sisters. They were very close and Daddy loved and trusted Uncle Gene to care for her. As my Mother stated, Helen was the sister she never had. The four of them shared many fun times together and Mother often still speaks of those recollections.
Uncle Gene has always been an exceptional host when we were fortunate enough to visit graciously acting as our tour guide. I don’t grill salmon or eat crab that I don’t think of Uncle Gene and his exceptional culinary skills! He is such a loving father and grandfather, and now has gained the honor of being a great grandfather. His legacy will live on! What a blessing he has been to our entire family!
–Susan Glawson Neal, niece
To me, Gene Scoles is the embodiment of the Law School, notwithstanding its physical moves from Fenton to McKenzie and then to the Knight Law Center.
When I visited Gene at his office in the Law School after his retirement, I found him immersed in more legal projects than a young professor could manage. We laughed at his difficulties in using Dragon, a computer voice recognition program he was using to assist in his writings. Shorn of administrative duties and teaching, he spent full time on legal scholarship and in his participation on the Uniform Laws commission. In recent days we had lunches together and I found him to be the same brilliant observer of current affairs and the law as in earlier days. His passion for legal education was unabated. We waxed nostalgic about the camaraderie we had enjoyed when both our spouses were with us.
Gene took some chances as Dean. For one, he hired a law school graduate with no experience but with working knowledge of the Uniform Commercial Code then in the process of enactment by the States. He hired as Visiting Professors two lawyers with many years of corporate law experience sans teaching experience. He developed the Law School despite obstacles.
Gene is best described as a Gentleman and a Scholar.
–Milton Ray, Professor Emeritus, University of Oregon School of Law
Gene, there are so many ways I fondly remember you: the guy who took a chance on a greenhorn wannabe law professor and hired me; the leader and new Dean who literally changed the direction of the Law School with new programs, an expanded faculty, stronger students, better funding/Alumni relations, and higher aspirations. You were a prolific author and scholar who inspired the rest of us to research and publication. You were always a delightful colleague and, later, a long-time "neighbor" on "emeritus row" in the new building. I remember you too, as a most considerate and kind person and a man with an estimable ethhical compass. And you and Helen were wonderful hosts for our many faculty parties that built friendships and comradery among your "troops". On top of that, you found time to be a breeder of champion dogs!
It is a privilege to know you and to have worked with you. You have been a towering member of our profession and, closer to home, just a heck of a nice guy!
–Pete Swan, Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Oregon School of Law
Many fond memories of visits to the USA for GSP Nationals & other shows. I know my Lucy was a lovely friend & companion for you many years. Many arguments over who would pay for dinner — Gene always won!! A fabulous tour guide, one trip I remember well was Crater Lake and the snow — just beautiful. Great memoriess of a truely wonderful old friend. Thank you Gene!!
–Sue Wright, Moruada Kennels, Australia