A Magical, Practical Thinker
It is never easy to say goodbye to a beloved professor and respected colleague. Such farewells are painful, but they often offer a revelatory glimpse into those we thought we knew, by way of the words and stories of others.
That was true in March, when Professor Catharine Wells, a scholar of Pragmatic Legal Theory, Feminist Jurisprudence, and Civil Rights Theory, passed away unexpectedly. Shortly thereafter, fellow BC Law professor Patricia McCoy recalled a previous summer evening on Wells’s patio: “She asked me what I was working on and I let drop that I had at least one more book in me. To which she said, ‘What do you mean, you have one more book? I have FOUR.’ She was brimming with plans: for her book projects, for travel, for completing her basement pool. And wouldn’t you know it, she jumped right in, completing the first of the four books in January and her basement pool, too.”
Ever the optimist, Wells possessed an almost magical ability to open new worlds of thought to students. As Matt Coughlin ’22 wrote in BC Law’s Impact blog shortly after her passing: “She could take any legal concept or judicial decision and spin it on its head. Picture a 3D object spinning around on a digital platform—that’s how Wells thought. She could take something theoretical apart, explore it from different angles, delve into its historical background and its origins, and break all that down into simpler terms.”
Three Other Community Members Who Also Impacted the Classroom
David McKay ’85 enjoyed a long career at Ropes & Gray, where he met his wife, Marjory Robertson ’82. After his retirement in 2014, he became a sanguine presence at BC Law, traversing the hallways in his wheelchair en route to the class he taught on corporate finance. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991, he handled his illness with courage and humor. McKay was gregarious and caring and touched the lives of many, including students, who drew inspiration from his legal intelligence and resilience.
Kirk P. Jackson ’90, a successful real estate lawyer and, eventually, an assistant secretary at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, was a natural in the classroom. A military veteran, civic leader, and minority advocate, he was president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association from 1991-1992, a member of the NAACP, and co-founder of Jackson & Jean, the only minority-owned real estate boutique firm in the state at the time. Jackson also made important contributions to the fight against hatred in America, for which his name was added to the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama.
Louise Clark, though not a teacher in the technical sense, was every bit an educator. She ran admissions, finance, and registration operations at BC Law for twenty-six years, nurturing thousands of students—or, as she called them, her “kids.” One of them, now-Professor James Repetti ’80, said his decision to stick with BC Law after being admitted to a higher ranked school was due mostly to her generosity and kindness. Clark passed away in May at ninety-two.