August 09, 2021

Remembering Ron Lansing

Memories of Ron Lansing shared by friends and colleagues.

Lawyer, professor, author, dedicated public servant, and family man Ron Lansing passed away on May 28, 2021. A memorial service and celebration of life will be held on Saturday, August 28, 2021, at 2:00 pm at the Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Research Center. To leave memories of Ron Lansing, use this tribute page link.

The following are memories shared by law school friends and colleagues:

“Ron was a great friend and colleague. When I was new, I sat in on his tort classes to view a master at work and perhaps pick up a few tips. We played poker together, and I well remember when he eliminated me from the final table at a law school poker event. I also will never forget Ron re-setting Larry Zelenak’s finger after it was dislocated during a faculty softball practice. And this from a torts professor! We chatted often on various subjects from mathematical problems to Marilyn vos Savant’s weekly column in Parade. I missed him when he retired, and I will miss him all the more now.” – Professor William (Bill) Funk

“Ron was one in a million, and always so generous to me through the years with his time, advice, and seemingly boundless recall and enthusiasm for this school and its people.  Boley Library created an archive of Ron’s sketches on our starter digital archives site. The site itself is not at all a completed project and so not truly open to the public. But we are happy to temporarily open it up for all of you — especially for those who are not on campus to visit them in the LRC — on this sad occasion:

– Rob Truman, Associate Dean and Director, Paul L. Boley Law Library

Self Portrait, Ron Lansing

“This is incredibly sad news. I just loved him!”   -- Liz Hobbs

“Yes, this is very sad news. Ron was a great man and a terrific colleague.”                – Professor Craig Johnston

“Ron shared the story of how he began to draw caricatures of law faculty and staff. He remembered long faculty meetings, where his doodles turned into drawings, and how the idea of capturing the essence of a person – from some mannerism or expression they had – was his goal. The casual past time turned into a passion for him and are such a window into the law school lore.”  – Judy Asbury

“I remember Prof. Lansing first and foremost as a good professor, which was what I needed most as a student. Second was his personality, and humor. I had no idea at the time that Ron was one of the first full-time professors at the law school, or helped L&C become accredited- he didn’t lord that over anyone. My condolences to his family.”  – Dan McInerny, Class of ’84

“1991 Torts class, Professor Lansing interrupting his class and giving a 15 minute tutorial on the proper way to cut an onion.”  – Matthew Huarte

“Ron, while never my professor at law school, was forever informing me of the legal intricacies of Oregon history. Not just back then, but for the rest of his life. I thank him for his friendship and support and hope the llamas are well taken care of. Bless you, Jewell. So sorry I can’t be at the service.”  –Fred Neal

“Ron was a wonderful person and a great friend when we were growing up in Lansing, Illinois.”  – Ed Flom

“1991 Torts class, Professor Lansing interrupting his class and giving a 15 minute tutorial on the proper way to cut an onion.” - Matthew Huarte

“I remember Prof. Lansing first and foremost as a good professor, which was what I needed most as a student. Second was his personality and humor. I had no idea at the time that Ron was one of the first full-time professors at the law school, or helped L&C become accredited- he didn’t lord that over anyone. My condolences to his family.” - Dan McInerny, Class of ’84

“I was a (very young) 22 year-old first year law student in 1979, fond of classics and literature and very unsure of why I was going to law school. However, Ron Lansing’s Torts class was an inspiration, the most interesting class I had. He gave me hope that law could be a fascinating blend of sociology, psychology, history, politics… I used to love his recitations of Robert Burns’ poetry. The first time I ever learned the word “ken” (knowledge) was in his class, I adopted it as shorthand in my notes (this was pre-laptop days) and I always think of him when I hear that word. He made a difference in my young life. I’m now 64, and he’s one of my lasting fond memories of law school. Rest in peace, Professor Lansing.” - Patricia Halsell

“Class of ’74- I’ll always remember Professor Lansing who taught torts in such a jovial and memorable way. He challenged his classes and me with new vocabulary in every class; it was fun to run to the dictionary to find out exactly what it meant! I am sorry for your loss; a great loss for our entire law school community.” - Judge Richard Morga, Retired

“I began law school at L and C in August of 1972, and had Professor Lansing for first-year torts. He was known for his intelligence, enthusiasm and genuine love of us students. Three things stand out: his clever caricatures of fellow faculty, the elbows he threw relentlessly in our basketball games up at Pioneer gym, and his heartfelt tribute to Dean Prosser on the occasion of the Dean’s death in 1972. Prof. Lansing ended by saying that Dean Prosser’s career and our careers “passed like ships in the night”. That phrase stands for me as a reminder of the traditions of the law we must carry forward. I have thanked Professor Lansing for it many times.” - Donald O. Costello, Esq.

“I have two particular memories of working with Ron. The first, is when he did my characture drawing. I was very proud and felt at home in the faculty. The second is being invited for poker night. Then I knew I was truly part of the gang. Ron was a brilliant colleague and great and kind friend.” - Gary D Meyers

“I remember Torts was one of my first classes. I thoroughly appreciated Ron’s sense of humor and doing his best to teach us and allay some of our 1L fears. I was sad to hear of his passing. The day before I received the announcement from L&C, I was telling a client that one of that one of my first memories from law school was my Torts professor teaching us “you take your plaintiff like you find him/her.” I know he touched a lot of people.” - Rebecca Goldfarb

“Professor Lansing had a profound impact on my future. He shared with us his wit along with his love of the law – for which I am so very grateful. My condolences to the family.” - Laurie Raymond

“Professor Lansing was an inspirational instructor for us first year law students. But, he was also impactful on the Lewis and Clark basketball court where we played almost each day at noon.” - Jack Hoffman

“As dean, I was Ron’s student when it came to the history of the law school. We had lots of sessions together. And I loved his sketches of faculty (although he made me look even more bald than I really am!). He was a treasure and will be missed.” - Robert Klonoff

“Ron and I were el-hi classmates in Lansing, Illinois. He was a good friend of my cousin. They both liked to draw and doodle. My Mom taught all of us 8th grade English. When I visited Jewel and Ron about 15 years ago Ron took me to his office. I could tell that he had the same mischievous spark that he had as a kid. Before seeing his office I was introduced to his llama. I would guess that he was one professor his students would always remember!” - Mary OBrien

“Ron Lansing. Ron Lansing. Professor Ron Lansing, free-thinking man and intellect who contributed unique thoughts on divergent legal topics, like challenging the need for proof of individual causation in toxic tort cases, or revealing the white man’s due process hypocrisy evident in the cold pages of the Oregon City trial transcript of the young native men charged and condemned in the “Whitman Massacre.” Ron Lansing, at once an athlete (playing “pick up” basketball into his 70’s), an artist (the faculty portrait gallery), a man of kindness and caring (as witnessed in many of the faculty remembrances) — a truly unique person hearing drums not heard by the crowd.” - Henry Drummonds

“Before he assumed the bench for 25 years Bill was on the faculty with Ron at the time the Law School became accredited; many years later I served as Director of Events for almost 10 years, with my office being across the hall from Ron’s. I always admired his artistic talents… especially in the art of cartoons capturing the likenesses of faculty throughout the decades.” - Kathi Snouffer

“Ron was the gumball dispenser extraordinaire, and the BRIDGE from pre-merger Northwestern to our modern law school.

A distinguished graduate of Willamette Law School, he was also a bridge among the 3 Oregon Law Schools, and between our law school and Lewis & Clark College, even when relations were otherwise tense. He had so many friends at all of these institutions and throughout Oregon’s legal and judicial communities. He was the oral historian and scrivener, from the Whitman massacre through the history of our law school, and faculty secretary with comprehensive and hilarious minutes to prove the point. His Skylarks and Lecterns is in my opinion the finest novel about law school and the law school experience that has been written, way better than 1 L for example. His office gumball machine (official Ford gum only) was a welcome magnet for Deans (at least this one), faculty, students and our little kids. (He was held in high regard by dentists for sure.) In Ron’s way, he always had at the ready a drawer full of pennies so no one else would have to dip into their own pockets.

Ron was a great teacher, who can forget his metaphorical discussion of different judicial philosophies using the example of an umpire’s call of strikes–depending on the ump and the situation, within the actual objective strike zone, to move the game along, or to punish a player who disrespected the game. John Roberts’ confirmation balls and strikes analogy was a pale carbon copy, and owes what appeal it had to Ron’s more sophisticated story telling.

He was also an enthusiastic and adequate basketball player. When faculty members were young and good looking and justly won 4 of 5 yearly B league championships in the 1980s, Mike Blumm immortalized Ron at the biggest awards banquet at Jim Huffman’s house in Multnomah Village–“Ron dreams of baskets, — that others simply make.”

Ron was a great friend, an invaluable advisor to a young faculty member and Dean, a patient sounding board, a legal and history scholar, and a wonderful professional role model exemplifying the highest standard of ethics mixed with compassion for those who erred. In short, he was a true professional in everything he did. Wood carver, poker player, Jewell’s sidekick, and a puzzle solver and giver–well he never solved the 12 ball problem I gave him one day years ago, but few have.

Ron was a central part of the law school’s life, and he is missed by us all!”                –Emeritus Dean and Professor of Law Steve Kanter

“Professor Lansing was a great teacher of law. Over 30 years later I still recall one of his lectures and chalk board illustrations while teaching 402A subject matter. I regret that I was unable to attend his memorial service but it is nice to take a moment to reflect on Professor Lansing with gratitude for his various contributions. Thank you professor.”  – Eli Stutsman, ’91


In 1997, while looking at a property to buy, I peeked over the fenced and I saw a neighbor feeding his small herd of sheep, goats and llamas. He came over to the fence and talked with me for awhile and I asked him about the neighborhood and what he knew of this property. He shared some insights and told me a bit about himself and his wife, Jewel. Partially based upon that conversation, I bought that property and we became neighbors for almost 25 years. His name was Ronald Lansing. Ron was an accomplished man who had big impact on the lives and the world around him. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have fallen in love with llamas, or one particular one I called “Dolly Llama.” Over the years he gave me several books he had authored and I was always impressed by his storytelling. Besides a law scholar, writer, lecturer, administrator, professor, he was also a skilled cartoonist. I will miss my friend and neighbor. RIP Ron.  – Ron McDowell

“I first met Ron through Jewel, when he joined her for visits and meals at Markham, then as a resident. Most of us knew that a visit to Ron’s room was never a quick trip, and we never really minded! Checking the TV was working or the phone was taking messages became grounds for current events debate or the philosophy of caring. But my favorite memories of Ron were the interactions between Ron and Jewel. He’d look at Jewell after she said something and he’d ask her to marry him!”            - Jennifer C.

“As Ron and Jewel’s neighbors for several years, Doug and I have very much enjoyed times spent with Ron and the extended Lansing family. Ron was a staple in the paddock that connects our homes and it was not uncommon to see him out there, enjoying all the small wonders that life presents us with. Ron loved the farm animals and native wildlife and was especially tender and sweet about the wild baby birds nesting on the property. He encouraged us to house chickens on the land and enjoyed their growth from chicks to hens. He would have liked us to buy some goats as well, but we were a bit less confident about our goat-herder qualifications! Ron was always thrilled to see us for a chat and we enjoyed his quick wit and dry humor, even when it was self-disparaging (as was often the case!). He dearly missed Jewel when she moved over to the nursing home but was loath to ask for help to make the trip there, although we offered many times, he didn’t ever want to impose on us, such were his ways. His love for life and all the precious animals and birds around him was always present, and we miss his presence very much!”                         – Sarah Dulak

“My most vivid memory of Ron was first year law school, evening session. That was my night to be called on by way of the Socratic Method and the subject was legal duty to others. Throughout the evening in numerous varied and entertaining hypotheticals I let my fellow evening student Mrs. Carrol die or suffer grievous injury due to my lack of a legal duty to act. I think by the end of the class, Mrs. Carrol was starting to take it personally. Years later he and I had several fascinating conversations regarding his research which led to his book The Juggernaut regarding the trial of the Cayuse Five, a subject that has become an important part of my job while working for the Umatilla Tribes on the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.”  –Audie Huber