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Beloved Teacher

Law School Loses

The College of Law community mourns the passing of Professor Emeritus John C. Paulus, who died on Dec. 25, 2008, at the age of 88. A member of the Willamette law faculty for 36 years, John C. Paulus was a mentor to many and an icon to most of the 5,000 law students he taught throughout his remarkable career. “It is quite possible that he taught more Oregon lawyers than anyone else in the state’s history,” said College of Law Dean Symeon C. Symeonides. “But longevity is not the only reason John is a legend. He was a masterful, talented teacher and a wonderful mentor, who, for good reason, was beloved by his students.” Born in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1920, Paulus served in the Iowa Medical National Guard and the U.S. Army. While stationed in Modesto, Calif., Paulus met his lifelong love Jean Engdahl. The two were married on Christmas Day in 1945 and went on to raise three daughters, Lani, Lynne and Penny. Paulus received a B.A. in journalism and J.D. from the University of Iowa. In 1949, he joined the Willamette law faculty, where he became renowned for his expertise in property law and trusts and estates. He also served as the first faculty adviser to Willamette Law Review. His influence as an educator, however, extended far beyond the College of Law. He is credited with preparing thousands of law graduates for the Oregon State Bar examination through his Paulus Bar Review, the first bar exam course in Oregon and the only one available in the state for several decades.

“He was a masterful, talented teacher and a wonderful mentor, who was beloved by his students.” — Dean Symeon C. Symeonides Following his retirement from the College of Law in 1985, Paulus lived in Pacific City on the Oregon coast for 18 years before moving to Chico, Calif., where he spent the last years of his life. A widower since January 2007, Paulus died at his daughter Penny’s home on Christmas Day 2008.

At the time of his retirement, Willamette recognized Paulus’ countless contributions to the law school and the greater legal profession by establishing the John C. Paulus Lecture Fund. In 1995, shortly after the Truman Wesley Collins Legal Center was renovated and rededicated, the Great Hall (Room 201) was named in Paulus’ honor. To learn more about the John C. Paulus Lecture Fund, please contact Mike Bennett BA’70, director of development and alumni relations for the College of Law, at 503-370-6761 or

Announcement of Professor John Paulus’ retirement, excerpted from a letter written to Willamette Law Review on Nov. 26, 1984: John Paulus, a man for many seasons, will retire at the conclusion of this academic year. The occasion will mark the closing of another chapter in the history of the College of Law. We rejoice in John’s new life outside the classroom, but we regret the departure of a modest, self-effacing professor who has become known to our law alumni as “Mr. Willamette.” For the past several years, John has taught Property and Trusts and Estates. It is significant to note that John has taught more students than any other professor in the history of Willamette University College of Law. Furthermore, by his example he has inspired high standards and love of the law. John takes with him many memories of Willamette, and we will remember a valued colleague who looked upon teaching at Willamette as both an opportunity and a challenge. In this spirit, John contributed a life’s work to the success of the College of Law. He has won the respect, admiration and love of 36 years of students and colleagues; John Paulus, we will miss you. — Professor Leroy J. Tornquist, then-dean of the law school — Professor Richard F. Breen, director of the law library

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Willamette Lawyer | Spring 2009 • Vol. IX, No. 1  
Willamette Lawyer | Spring 2009 • Vol. IX, No. 1  

Remembering Paulus: The College of Law community mourns the passing of Professor Emeritus John C. Paulus, a master teacher and member of the...