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Notice regarding John M. Levy

Provost Michael R. Halleran sent the following message to the campus community April 10, 2017 - Ed.

Dear Colleagues,

I write to share the news that John M. Levy, Chancellor Professor of Law, Emeritus, passed away on April 2. 

Born in Washington, D.C., he received his undergraduate degree from New York University and his J.D. from Syracuse University.

Professor Levy joined the W&M faculty in 1976 as Director of Clinical Education and Visiting Associate Professor of Law, thinking that a year in academia would be a “nice break” from his work running Neighborhood Legal Aid in Richmond. Professor Levy ultimately retired in 2002 as Chancellor Professor of Law after teaching at the Law School for 26 years. He was the 1999 recipient of the Law School’s John Marshall Award for “exceptional character, leadership, and a spirit of selfless service.” The Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program was established in his honor.

Professor Levy had a lifelong commitment to public service and a distinguished career safeguarding the rights of the unrepresented and underrepresented. In addition to serving for two years post-college in the Peace Corps teaching English and African history in a secondary school in Nigeria, where he met his wife, Kaye, he also worked in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare’s education office and as the director of Richmond’s Neighborhood Legal Aid before joining the faculty of the Law School.

At the Law School, he was critical to the success of the school’s Legal Skills Program in addition to serving as the director of clinical education, the director of the Law School’s summer abroad program, and the Law School’s LL.M. program. He also helped to start Peninsula Legal Aid.

After his retirement, Professor Levy served as a consultant to the National Center for State Courts, participated as a Fulbright scholar at Moi University in Kenya, chaired the Community Action Board in Williamsburg, served on many boards of directors of public interest programs, and volunteered with the Head Start program in Gloucester. He gave much of his service to the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, where he chaired the Legal Panel and served as a member of the Board of Directors from the late 1960s to 2015, and to the Virginia State Bar, where he served on the blue-ribbon committee that wrote Virginia’s Rules of Professional Conduct. Professor Levy’s commitment to service was recognized by the Virginia State Bar in 1998 when it conferred on him the Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Pro Bono Award.

Professor Levy was well known at the Law School and in the community for his cheerful greetings and his generous contribution of hand-carved cedar “talking sticks” and “feely fish” to all whom he met. (He had recently declared that he had distributed more than 3,500 fish to friends both old and new.) His guided “Walk in the Woods” tour around Lake Matoaka was a mainstay of Law School Alumni Weekends.

He was the husband of Kaye Levy. He is also survived by their children Shanti and Adam and their spouses Dan and Melanie, his sister, Sue, and six grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, April 22, at 2:00 p.m. at the Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre at Lake Matoaka. In the event of rain, the service will be held at Trinkle Hall. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Levy Loan Repayment Fund at the Law School, the ACLU of Virginia, and/or the Williamsburg-James City County Community Action Agency.