LAFF Society


In Memoriam, Winter 2019


Patricia Wald, described as a “pioneer for women in law” and who was the first woman named to the Ford Foundation’s Board of Trustees, died January 12 at her home in Washington, D.C. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. She was 90 years old.
Judge Wald achieved many firsts in her long career as a lawyer and jurist, including being one of the first women admitted to Yale Law School, where she began her studies in 1948 after earning a bachelor’s degree from the Connecticut College for Women.
She began her career as a law clerk for Jerome Frank, a judge of the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York City, initiating what The New York Times called “a path to becoming a progressive voice in American jurisprudence”.
In private practice she became the first woman associate at the prestigious law firm now known as Arnold & Porter, beginning a series of “firsts” in law, the federal court system and government, including at Ford, where she was a trustee from 1972 to 1977.
She served on several commissions to improve legal services and juvenile justice, and became a trial lawyer for the Legal Services Corporation before President Jimmy Carter, in 1977,  named her to the position of assistant attorney general for legislative affairs in the Justice Department, the first woman to hold that position.
Then, in 1979, President Carter nominated her to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., circuit, the first woman to sit on that court. She served there for 20 years, becoming chief judge in 1986, again, the first woman to do so.
After she retired from the bench in 1999, she became a member of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in The Hague.
She wrote the opinion for the landmark judgment in the Krstic case, which found for the first time that the massacre of 8,000 men and boys in the city of Srebrenica constituted genocide. In another case, she ruled that rapes at the Omarska detention camp were war crimes. Those and other decisions, though not always accepted by some, helped establish the legitimacy of the court. 
In a move that may not have been a first but was unusual for a professional woman at the time, she left the workplace for a decade to care for her five young children. “I didn’t feel any sense of isolation or loss,” she said later. “I just assumed I would go back. In my view, how you pursue your life as a parent and careerist is a question of individual personality.
“I did not want to go back to work until my kids were in regular school,” she said. “I respect other women’s choices to go back earlier.”
When she returned to work she did so part time, mainly doing research for such organizations as the National Conference on Law and Poverty and the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice. Her full-time career resumed in 1967 with a position in the Office of Criminal Justice of the Justice Department.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served with Judge Wald on the federal appeals court, said of her at her death that she “pursued justice with passion —heart, mind and soul. In her lifetime of achievement, she unsparingly devoted her efforts to advancing the health and welfare of mankind.”  
In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Her husband, Robert Wald, a lawyer in private practice who she met while studying at Yale, died in 2010. She is survived by her five children and ten grandchildren.
David Beitzel, long-time partner of Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, died January 20 of a heart attack.
Mr. Beitzel had run Beitzel Fine Arts, a private art dealing and consulting business, since 2001, specializing in “international contemporary art, with a focus on new emerging talent”.
In his business, he helped private and corporate clients and public institutions build and maintain their collections. Among his services, he informed clients of new talent, provided valuations of existing collections and oversaw the sale of collections and individual pieces of art.
Mr. Beitzel earned a master’s in fine arts degree in painting from Bennington College and opened his own gallery in the SoHo section of New York City in 1986, which he ran until he opened the consulting business.  
Through his years with the gallery and in the dealing and consulting business, he established “a wide international network of art world professionals”, providing “a formidable knowledge base that results in objective, client need-based focused priorities”. 
He had been a member of the board of Bennington College; the Hetrick-Martin Institute; the public television series on LGBT issues, “In the Life”; the Fleming Museum of Art at the University of Vermont, where he earned a bachelor’s degree; and the Skowhegan School of Art and Painting.
Survivors, in addition to Darren Walker, who was his partner for 26 years, include his mother, a sister and a brother.
Prakash Das, who was in charge of the cafeteria in the New Delhi office of the Ford Foundation, died suddenly February 5. He started working for Ford in 1999 and assumed the cafeteria position in 2014.
He had received the Employee of the Quarter award during his time with Ford, recognized for being “very professional and efficient”. A statement from the office noted that he was always “very courteous, helpful and responsive to emerging needs. He was liked not only by office colleagues but visitors, grantee partners, contractors and others.”
The office has planted a lemon tree in his honor, memorializing not only the improvements he made to the cafeteria but the caring touch with which he offered staff and visitors “fresh lime juice nimbu pani and ginger tea”.



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