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In Memoriam: Peter Nycum, former library dean and professor of law

October 21, 2015

  • Peter Nycum

On October 5, 2015 the law school lost a loyal friend and colleague when Emeritus Professor Peter Nycum passed away. Here is a reprint of Peter’s obituary, published in the Oregonian.

Peter Stivanson Nycum passed away peacefully Oct. 5, 2015. He was born March 30, 1941, in Pittsburgh to Katherine and Rev. John M. Nycum. Peter, a retired professor of law and associate dean at Lewis & Clark Law School, was the chief administrator of the Law Library and was responsible for policy decisions and the direction of the Law Library. Professor Nycum taught Legal History, had a BA in English Writing, and a JD and master in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. His legal information career began with pioneering the legal information retrieval project at the Health Law Center of the University of Pittsburgh in the early 1960s, a systems effort that predates both Lexis and Westlaw.

Before joining the law school faculty in 1978, Professor Nycum was assistant director of the Alleghany County Law Library in Pittsburgh, manager of user services for the Stanford University Computer Center and director of the San Mateo County Law Library in the San Francisco Bay area. He also developed and ran his own microfilm publishing company, Legal Information Science, before it was acquired by Xerox.

An esteemed professor, Peter always taught in a suit and tie to represent the honor and dignity that he felt exemplified the legal profession. Teaching ethics, the history of law and computer law, Peter wove contemporary concepts with ancient texts into his classroom lectures. He utilized modern cultural references in relating ancient law to illustrate points. He was a beloved professor earning rave reviews from students and faculty and considered the law school his home and family.

Upon retirement in 2011, he acknowledged that his greatest career honors included the naming and dedication of the Peter S. Nycum Rare Book Room and leading the Wood Hall dedication where he shared the stage with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

He leaves behind his beautiful wife, Marilyn Nycum, his soul mate who became a devoted caregiver in his later years. A true animal lover, Peter rescued many dogs and leaves behind his beloved companions, Remi and Jacques. He is survived by his family including his stepchildren, Todd (Carol) Braden and Kirsten (Ian) Olsen; their children, Gunnar and Lily Braden, Braden, Rian and Finn Olsen; sister-in-law, Lori Nycum; and nieces, Katie and Linda. Peter was preceded in death by his brother, Jim; and grandchildren, Graham and Taylor Olsen.

A memorial service was held October 15 at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church. Remembrances may be made to the Peter Nycum Animal Law Scholarship Fund, Indigo Animal Rescue or the World Wildlife Fund.

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