- Published on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 01:30
- Written by Los Altos Town Crier Staff
George Jonathan Alexander of Los Altos Hills, California passed away on Monday evening, July 29, 2013. His family was by his side.
Professor Alexander was the Dean Emeritus of Santa Clara University School of Law, having taken the helm of a 300 student, 12 full-time faculty institution in 1970 and helped the law school grow considerably in stature and triple in size during his 15-year tenure. Professor Alexander taught law for fifty two years, at the University of Chicago, Syracuse University, and Santa Clara Law, focusing his classroom teaching primarily on antitrust, Constitutional law, and law and psychiatry.
He proposed the idea of a living will for protecting not only property rights, but also the control of health care issues, in a Stanford Law Review article. He then worked with the California Law Revision Commission in shaping their proposal for such a statute, the first to be passed in the United States. He also authored 13 books, including “Honesty and Competition” about false advertising regulation, “The Aged and the Need for Surrogate Management” (with Professor Travis H. D. Lewin), “Writing a Living Will: Using a Durable Power of Attorney,” “International Perspectives on Aging,” “Commercial Torts,” and many book chapters as well as over fifty articles in refereed scholarly journals in the United States and abroad.
Following his term as Dean, Professor Alexander was awarded the Elizabeth H. and John A. Sutro Professor of Law chair—the first endowed chair in Santa Clara Law School’s history. Additionally, he was named Director of the Institute of International and Comparative Law, a program he conceived to expand Santa Clara’s legal studies to twelve countries and bring Visiting Scholars to the law school.
Prior to coming to Santa Clara Law, Professor Alexander received a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to research legal issues related to space exploration. He was active in the New York Civil Liberties Union (Vice-President) and the American Association of University Professors (Syracuse University Chairman). Beginning in 1976, he served as a consultant to the Comptroller General of the United States for several decades. In 2000, he received the Thomas Szasz Award for Civil Liberties. He was also President of the National Society of American Law Teachers and in 2002, received their award for Founding Board Member and Visionary Activist for Equality, Access and Diversity throughout Law and Society.
In 2004, Professor Alexander and his beloved wife generously reinvigorated the East San Jose Community Law Center. In recognition of their gesture, the ESJCLC was officially renamed the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center. Today, the Alexander Community Law Center educates law students by guiding them in providing pro bono representation to low-income individuals in consumer law, immigration law, workers’ rights, and tax matters, serving about 1,000 clients on-site per year. The Center also reaches out to about 1,200 individuals through mobile workshops on consumer rights, workers’ rights, and tenant-landlord rights, as well as advocating for low-income individuals with legislators and law reform committees.
In 2008, the Alexanders established the Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize, designed to bring recognition to lawyers who have used their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity. Over the past six years, the Prize has recognized and supported the courageous human rights work of Bryan Stevenson (founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama), Mario Joseph (Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti), Shadi Sadr (an Iranian lawyer who launched the “End Stoning Forever” program and a center for women’s rights in Iran), Paul Van Zyl (former Executive Secretary of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, co-founder of the International Center for Transitional Justice, and CEO of PeaceVentures), Almudena Bernabeu (lead prosecutor against Salvadoran officials for the massacre of Jesuit priests in 1989), and Chen Guangcheng (blind Chinese dissident and self-taught lawyer who fights for the rights of rural poor in China).
Professor Alexander was born in 1931 and grew up in Philadelphia. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and an LL.M. and J.S.D. from Yale Law School. Between college and law school, he served in the United States Navy. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the San Jose Opera and the Arts Council of Silicon Valley, and a member of the Union Presbyterian Church of Los Altos.
Professor Alexander is survived by his law school sweetheart, Katharine. They were married for fifty five years and shared a passion for their family, travel, and great food. He is also survived by his children, Suzi Alexander and her husband Gary Stolzoff, and Chip Alexander and his wife Laurie Alexander, as well as his grandchildren, Simone, Sam, and Kate.
In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for contributions to the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, 1030 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126, (408) 288-7030. A memorial service will be held at the Santa Clara Mission Church on September 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm.