In Memoriam: Dr. Rowine Brown Truitt ‘61
After earning degrees from Stanford University and the University of Illinois Medical School during the 1930s, Dr. Truitt attained the position of assistant medical superintendent of Cook County Children's Hospital, where she began to encounter children who were victims of abuse.
“To do what I wanted to do, I had to have a law license,” Dr. Truitt told our alumnae/i magazine in 1996. “I wanted to work with those battered kids and get them out of their homes if these homes were dangerous.” And so she returned to school in her forties to earn a law degree and, after passing the bar exam, began to educate the public, the courts and the legislature about the problems of child abuse.
Eventually appointed the first woman medical director of Cook County Hospital, Dr. Truitt taught pediatrics at the medical schools of the University of Illinois and Northwestern University. She also served as president of the Woman's Bar Association of Illinois and as adjunct professor at Chicago-Kent, where she developed the law school’s first course in law and medicine and taught it for 25 years.
Perhaps Dr. Truitt’s influence on Chicago-Kent students is best expressed by Judith Munson ‘76, quoted in the Fall 1996 issue of our alumnae/i magazine: “I was awestruck by Dr. Truitt. She ignited something deep inside of me... Her course set the stage for the way my legal career developed. She continues to stand out as a giant in my world.”
William F. Zacharias, a Chicago-Kent College of Law professor for 36 years and its dean from 1956 to 1970, died January 23 in Fort Myers, Florida. He was 93.
Mr. Zacharias' interest in the law began when, as a grammar school student in his native England, he worked as an office boy for an English solicitor. At the end of World War I, the Zacharias family moved to the United States and made their home in Chicago. Mr. Zacharias was hired to work in the offices of Chicago alderman and attorney Henry Huspital. Ald. Huspital encouraged him to complete his high school education and to consider a legal career.
Mr. Zacharias enrolled at the Central YMCA and took proficiency examinations which enabled him to earn his high school diploma within eighteen months. He attended the University of Chicago and later enrolled in the University of Chicago Law School. Credits earned in his first year at the law school were applied toward the final year of his undergraduate work. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Mr. Zacharias received a bachelor of philosophy degree in 1933.
He transferred to Chicago-Kent College of Law and received a master of laws degree in 1934. Mr. Zacharias began a career as a solo practitioner, but the Depression era economy made it difficult to support his wife and children. He was asked by Chicago-Kent Dean Webster Burke teach a personal property class following the sudden death of a professor. Mr. Zacharias soon was offered a full-time faculty position. Over the next 36 years, he taught a variety of courses, but his favorites were Legal Method and Legal System, said Chicago-Kent professor Ralph Brill, whom Mr. Zacharias hired in 1961.
His method was 'Kingsfieldian' (referring to the character in John Jay Osborn's The Paper Chase) and he reduced many of his students to quavering bowls of jello. "The students who succeeded and graduated from Chicago-Kent have gone on to become highly competent lawyers, judges, and public officials," said Professor Brill.
In the early 1950s, Mr. Zacharias became Assistant Dean, responsible for curriculum planning. In 1956, following the retirement of Dean Burke, the board of trustees offered him the position. Surprisingly, Mr. Zacharias refused the appointment unless the Chicago Kent Board of Trustees agreed to improve the curriculum, faculty salaries and other benefits, increase staff, and expand and modernize the facilities. He agreed to serve as acting dean and, within a year, the board agreed to all of the major demands. Mr. Zacharias became Chicago-Kent's sixth dean in 1957.
In the year before his retirement, Mr. Zacharias participated in negotiations that led to the merger of Chicago-Kent College of Law with Illinois Institute of Technology. He retired as dean and professor emeritus and moved to Florida in 1973.
Current Chicago-Kent Dean Henry H. Perritt, Jr., said, "Under Dean Zacharias'
leadership, the law school provided the opportunity to thousands of students
who aspired to careers in law, at very affordable cost. He was ferociously
committed to the school and insisted that everyone take their responsibilities
Week of March 8, 1999