Law School Loses Beloved Teacher

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. 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.

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. He is survived by daughters, Lynne Paulus and Penny Paulus; sons-in-law, Dale Martin and Jay Goldberg; and grandsons, Matt, Alex and Tashi.

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. If you would like to contribute to this fund, please visit the College of Law's online donation page.