Archive for September, 2012

Election Protection! Volunteer with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Educate. Empower. Protect. Volunteer for Election Protection.

Election Protection – led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – is the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection coalition.  Through the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline and a comprehensive legal field deployment, Election Protection helps ensure eligible voters are able to participate in our democracy while collecting data for meaningful reform so that our elections are free, fair, and accessible.   

How you can help:  Election Protection is currently recruiting attorneys, paralegals, and law students to:

  • Serve as hotline call center volunteers on or before Election Day
  • Participate in legal field deployments on Election Day to ensure the process is running properly

To volunteer, use this online form.


“A Day for Legal Aid”: Canadian Bar Association Hosts Multimedia Panel on Importance of Legal Aid Services

On September 26th, the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch (CBABC) will host a live panel discussing the importance of sustaining legal services for vulnerable citizens in critical situations. The event is to commemorate the 3rd annual observance of “A Day for Legal Aid,” created by the CBABC to increase dialogue on the dire need for legal aid in the province of British Columbia.

“A Day for Legal Aid” is one part of the larger We Need Legal Aid campaign, which CBABC launched in October 2011 as a response to the socioeconomic effects of funding cuts to legal aid in British Columbia. The issue of civil legal aid funding will hit home for many beyond Canadian borders, as we are facing our own funding crisis here in the States.

Although the event will be held at the University of Victoria, anyone can view the panel discussion by clicking this link, housed on CBABC’s website. Details on the event are below!

Who: Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch

What: “A Day for Legal Aid” panel discussion, featuring the following panelists: Hon. Judge Susan Wishart, Carmen Rogers, Richard Schwartz, Kasari Govender, and Trish Kumpf. CBABC President Kerry Simons will moderate.

When: September 26, 2012, 12:30 – 1:30 pm


– Panel at University of Victoria, Fraser Building Room 158.

– Livestream event: Thompson Rivers University, Room IB 1020.

– Livestream link available at


Job o’ the Day: Immigrant Justice Organizer with the New Orleans’ Workers’ Center for Racial Justice

If mobilizing vulnerable populations through community lawyering sounds like a dream job to you, then consider this available position with the New Orleans’ Workers’ Center for Racial Justice! This worker’s rights organization is looking for applicants who can:

  •  Maintain, engage, and build the Congreso’s  energized base, organize weekly membership assemblies, and work with  Lead Organizer to engage members in outreach, organizing, and campaign  work.
  • Build grassroots leadership processes and  schools to turn members into leaders, and leaders into organizers. This  will include identifying daily leadership opportunities, devising and  implementing curriculum, and expanding the Congreso’s shared analysis of the root causes of problems and collective structural solutions.
  • Defend the bedrock constitutional, civil, and labor rights in a region where those rights are under attack. Member defense includes screening calls, running interviews, supporting crisis  response – organizing, legal, and communications.
  • Build broad alliances with African American  community members, unions, civil rights and criminal justice  organizations, womens’ organizations, LGBT community and organizations,  clergy, and others who share our values.

Check out the full listing at for qualifications, application instructions and more (log-in required)!



5 Things We Love About the New Site

by Ashley Matthews

Click on the screenshot for a larger view.

By now, you’ve more than likely noticed the big changes to our online jobs database at (formerly PSLawNet). However, the new look and name aren’t all that’s brand new at the revamped Public Service Jobs Directory site. Take a look at our top 5 things we love about the new

1. Personal Homepage

The new PSJD site allows every user instant access to a personal homepage after logging in by clicking on “My Account” at the top right corner of the PSJD site. With quick links to useful features that allow you to organize your job search, search for new opportunities, and learn career-building tips and information, the homepage is a one-stop shop for all your job hunting or job posting needs.

2. Your Old Favorites… on Steroids

On PSLawNet, job seekers were able to quickly add a desired position to their Favorites list. On, we’ve added more to this feature by allowing job seekers to not only save their favorite jobs, but their favorite employers (regardless of whether the organization has current openings), their favorite searches, and their favorite resources. The result is a more holistic and personalized list of dream jobs accessible from your personal homepage whenever you need it. For more information and tips on using your Favorites page, read our blog post “Making the Most Out of Your Favorites on PSJD“.

3. Easier Social Media Sharing

If you can’t get enough of our public interest news and job postings, PSJD has active profiles on Twitter and Facebook that constantly feed out the latest jobs and developments in the public interest law world. And now, our Twitter timeline and blog posts can be read right from the PSJD homepage!

4. Customizable Email Alerts

On the new PSJD site, users can create customizable email alerts by using the Advanced Search features. After searching for general keywords – “Housing law,” for instance – users are able to filter their results by city, state, practice area, job type and more. Next, hit the “Notify Me” button at the top of the results page to give your job search a unique name and decide whether to get daily or weekly email alerts of all jobs matching your personalized search.

5. New and Improved Resource Center

PSJD’s new Resource Center is neatly and efficiently divided up into 6 categories: Career Central, Postgraduate Fellowships, International Resources, Government Careers, Funding a Debt, and Public Service in Canada. If a resource is especially beneficial, you can add it to your Favorites. In addition, at the bottom of each resource is a list of other similar articles that may be helpful as well.


We hope you utilize the new features on the site! If you run into technical issues or have navigation problems, feel free to contact us at or (202) 296-0076.

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Job o’ the Day: Health Justice Attorney at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest is a legal services organization that promotes equality and civil rights with a focus on health justice, disability rights, and environmental justice through community lawyering and partnerships with the private bar. They are currently looking for a staff attorney to join their Health Justice program.

From the PSJD job posting:

The HJ Program brings a civil rights and immigrant rights focus to health  care advocacy in New York City. Current campaigns focus on language access in  pharmacies, race- and insurance-based discrimination in major academic medical  centers, the impact of Medicaid cuts on safety net health care providers serving  low-income communities of color, and medical deportation. The Staff Attorney  will take on existing advocacy and have ample opportunity to lead and  collaborate upon new campaigns. The Staff Attorney will engage in legal, policy,  and administrative advocacy, as well as community organizing and outreach,  coalition-building, and media work.

NYLPI pioneered the practice of community lawyering in the five boroughs of  New York City. With every case and every campaign, we continue to elaborate an  approach to working with marginalized communities that is ambitious,  participatory, and dynamic. Our work draws on a range of strengths: community  trust; proficient organizing; media savvy; effective legislative advocacy; and  bold, creative approaches to litigation. The Staff Attorney will work both  independently and in collaboration with other attorneys, community organizers,  and media and lobbying consultants.

For more information on qualifications and application instructions, view the full listing at (log-in required)!


Voting Rights Act Snafu: Texas Citizens Removed from Voter Registration Rolls for Being Dead, Although They are Still Living

by Ashley Matthews

In the midst of a national debate over the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, Texas has shaken things up once again with its latest effort to revise the state’s voting procedures. This time, more than a few Texas citizens were shocked to find out they couldn’t vote – because they had been declared dead. Seeing as how they were still alive, this presented a major problem.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

Texas officials were temporarily barred by a state judge from ordering county election officials to purge presumably dead voters from registration rolls because the initiative may violate the election code.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed yesterday by four voters who were told they would be purged from voter-registration lists as deceased. They asked state court Judge Tim Sulak in Austin to stop the state from striking about 77,000 names, arguing the plan violates state and federal law.

The secretary of state is “restrained from further instructing the counties to remove any other names from the voter rolls,” Sulak said in an order. “Plaintiffs are entitled to temporary injunctive relief.”

The voters’ Lawyers say that under the federal Voting Rights Act the state must get pre-approval for the rule changes. The law mandates that jurisdictions with a history of rights violations first get clearance for new election procedures from the U.S. Justice Department or a three-judge panel.

“There is no statutory authority for this purge,” David Richards, a civil rights lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview while waiting for the judge to rule.

Texas recently lost a federal court of appeals case striking down the state’s voter identification law passed by the Texas Legislature last year. This lawsuit is only one of multiple court battles being fought over voting rules in swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.


Public Interest News Bulletin – September 21, 2012

By: Steve Grumm

Hi, folks.  There is much news to cover in the access-to-justice, pro bono, and public interest arenas – including, of course, information about New York State’s newly implemented rule requiring 50 hours of pro bono service before getting licensed to practice.  Before that, a few other items that caught my attention this week: 

Okay, the public interest news in very brief:

  • more legal aid funding from the national mortgage foreclosure fraud class-action settlement (MA and RI):
  • Missouri public defenders about to implement new policies to limit caseloads;
  • the legal aid community should use more research and data to make progress on the access-to-justice front;
  • a new veterans initiative from 2 Florida legal services providers;
  • an update on San Fran’s Neighborhood Prosecutor Initiative;
  • details on NY’s new 50-hour pro bono requirement for admission to the bar;
  • light on lawyers to help the poor in NW Texas;
  • Contra Costa County prosecutors headed for the picket lines(?);
  • rolling out the Ohio Veterans and Military Legal Assistance Project;
  • trouble in Warren County, NY meeting new state indigent defense standards;
  • educating nonprofit funders about legal aid’s importance;
  • LSC has a new VP for grants management;
  • call for proposals for the Equal Justice Conference’s law school pro bono pre-conference;
  • more self-help legal centers in Illinois (keeping w/ a national trend);
  • NorCal pro bono all-stars;
  • public defenders should not post pictures of clients’ underwear (leopard-skin or otherwise) on the Facebooks;
  • Harvard, Stanford, NYU, and Yale law schools get Ford Foundation funding to promote student public interest work;
  • Super music bonus!

The summaries:

  • 9.20.12 – some good legal-aid funding news out of New England, stemming from the national foreclosure fraud class-action settlement:
    • Rhode Island: “To assist low and middle income families facing foreclosure, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin today announced a two-year, $1.57 million grant to Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS) to fund the Foreclosure Prevention Project.  The Foreclosure Prevention Project grant is funded through the National Mortgage Settlement between the five largest mortgage service providers and attorneys general nationwide…. With the grant, RILS expects to help stop, prevent, or delay the foreclosure of approximately 1,800 homes each year.”  (Full article on LoanSafe website.) 
    • Massachusetts: “The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) are set to launch a two-year effort to give legal help to homeowners facing foreclosure or eviction.  The Borrower Representation Initiative is being funded by a $6 million grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.”  (Story from the Boston Business Journal.  And here’s more info from AG’s website.


  • 9.20.12 – Missouri public defenders are about to implement new policies regarding caseload restrictions in order to alleviate pressures and increase quality of service to defendants.  Here is an interview with Cat Kelly, head of the statewide indigent defense program.  An excerpt of Ms. Kelly explaining forthcoming changes: “As of October, 17 district public defender offices serving 54 counties will be operating on limited availability — meaning they will be able to take cases during that month only up to their maximum allowable monthly caseload and then their doors will have to close.  Any remaining applications will have to go on a waiting list for defender services unless the judges choose to do something else with them — e.g. dispose of the cases without jail time (since the possibility of jail time is the constitutional trigger that requires appointment of counsel) or appointing private attorneys to handle the cases pro bono (without pay).  Another 10-12 offices are in line to do the same in the next month or two.  All but three public defender trial offices are significantly overloaded and those three (Moberly, Maryville, and Kirksville) are operating right at or just slightly over their capacity.” More coverage: 
    • 9.20.12 – a story from TV station KY3: The Missouri State Public Defenders office is bursting at the seams. It’s a problem that’s been brewing since the early 1990s.  Caseloads keep growing but staffing increases are not keeping up.   In 2008, the Public Defender Commission decided enough was enough.  It limited the number of cases each district could take as a way to deal with the growing overload.   The commission’s ability to impose such caps was tied up in litigation.  That changed in last July.  That’s when the Missouri Supreme Court decided judges cannot appoint public defenders to additional cases after they’ve reached their
    • 9.13.12 – “Boone and Callaway County attorneys who practice civil law found out yesterday they might be assigned criminal defense cases as soon as next month as the result of a new cap local public defenders are placing on their caseloads…. Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Presiding Judge Gary Oxenhandler [went on to say,] ‘Don’t think for a moment that somehow this crisis is the fault of the public defender. It is not. For the past 40 years, the public defender has been the savior of the private bar.”  (Story from the Columbia Tribune.)   


  • 9.20.12 – the Pro Bono Institute’s Esther Lardent calls for increased use of statistical- and research-based processes in evaluating access-to-justice needs in the civil legal services community.  “All too often in the civil legal services and pro bono worlds we simply rely on our sense of what works and anecdotal information, rather than rigorous and evidence-based research on what strategies, fora, and approaches work best for which low-income clients. With so many low-income families facing foreclosure, can we identify with any degree of confidence and evidence of outcomes, which approaches – mediation, litigation, negotiation – work best for which types of homeowners? As the number of bankruptcies grows, have we analyzed the outcomes of these cases to identify the most effective steps and protocols? At a time when more and more people come to court without a lawyer, have we examined the different models of pro se/self-representation and their usefulness for various matters such as landlord/tenant versus small claims?  Sadly, the answer is that, with some notable exceptions, we have not.”   Here’s Lardent’s full piece.
  • 9.20.12 – in Florida, the Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida are collaborating on a goal “to create a veterans’ initiative, expanding upon current services provided to military members and their families. Expanded services include representation in securing veterans’ benefits and Social Security benefits for homeless veterans, and obtaining driver’s licenses and birth certificates. The initiative will assist in eviction and foreclosure prevention; family issues such as child support, custody and divorce, and probate and consumer matters.”  (Full op-ed in the Sun-Sentinel.)
  • 9.20.12 – in San Francisco, “District Attorney George Gascón updated reporters Wednesday morning on his office’s 18-month old Neighborhood Prosecutor Initiative and announced his plan for a program for juvenile offenders throughout the city.  The initiative aims at curbing recidivism and keeping non-violent crimes such as infractions out of the criminal court system.  There are currently nine neighborhood courts, each with prosecutor assigned to work with two police districts.”  The initiative uses volunteer “adjudicators” who work with prosecutors to determine criminal punishment and treatment options that will help defendants avoid future criminal activity.  (Story from the MissionLocal website.)


  • 9.19.12 – Details of the new 50-hour pro bono requirement for applicants to the New York bar were unveiled yesterday by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman…. The first-in-the-nation requirement will take effect immediately for first- and second-year law students, who will have up to 34 months to fulfill the mandate. Current third-years are exempt.  Starting Jan. 1, 2015, every applicant to the bar will be required to fulfill the requirement….  Approved pro bono work includes legal services for people of “limited means”; not-for-profit organizations; individuals or groups seeking to promote access to justice; and public service in the judiciary and state and local governments….  Participation in law school clinics for which students receive credit would count.   (Here’s a New York Law Journal article.)  Also noteworthy is that New York Law School, where Chief Judge Lippman made the announcement, rode its momentum by announcing a new pro bono program to help its students meet the requirement.  Finally, some additional materials from the state high court: 
  • 9.18.12 – despite the efforts of Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and a group of pro bono volunteers, “the demand [for legal aid] is still far greater than the available help”  (Article on the NewsWest 9 website.) 
  • 9.18.12 – “Deputy district attorneys in Contra Costa County said that a strike is a distinct possibility given the wave of deep cuts that have swept through their office.  Since 2006, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office has lost more than 30 prosecutors – many to neighboring counties that pay more with lighter workloads…. In July, the county imposed a contract on deputy district attorneys, cutting wages by 5.25 percent while also reducing benefits.”  (Report on the KCBS website.)
    • Here’s more coverage, from the San Jose Mercury News, on how budget cuts are adversely affecting Contra Costa’s criminal justice system.


  • 9.18.12 – well, “OVMLAP” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but this is still good news: in Ohio, diversionary courts have helped veterans to avoid getting into criminal trouble.  But many Ohio vets  have unmet civil legal aid needs.  With grants from Walmart Foundation and Ohio State Bar Foundation, the Ohio Veterans and Military Legal Assistance Project is starting now.  “The project will connect low-income veterans to lawyers who are willing to help them with landlords, credit-card companies or some family-law cases.”  (Article in the Columbus Dispatch.)
  • 9.17.12 – “Warren County (NY) officials are protesting a change to the way the state funds legal services provided to the indigent [criminal defendants].  The county Board of Supervisors Mandate Relief Committee plans to contact the state Mandate Relief Council about the change.  The new policy requires the county Public Defender’s Office to add or improve services each year or risk losing a quarter of its $213,000 annual state funding.” (Article in the Post-Star.)
  • 9.17.12 – educating nonprofit funders about civil legal aid’s importance.  From the Lawscape blog: “The Public Welfare Foundation has been making important grants in the area of access to civil justice.  Mary McClymont, PWF President, has also been making a major effort to talk to her foundation colleagues about the importance of supporting civil legal aid. She was interviewed recently by Tamara Lucas Copeland, president of Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, about the needs of low-income people and what private funders can do to help. This video, aimed at the funder community, is available on the PWF’s website, . It’s also found on YouTube here.”
  • 9.17.12 – a Legal Services Corporation staffing announcement: “Amid continuing tough times for the Legal Services Corp., the group has announced a new vice president.  Lynn Jennings joins the LSC, the largest source of funding nationwide for civil legal aid, as vice president for grants management. Her duties include overseeing programmatic operations, the competitive grant process, and assessment and oversight of grantees.” (Story from the National Law Journal.)
  • 9.17.12 – The 2013 Equal Justice Conference Law School Pre-conference planning team invites you to submit program recommendations for this year’s pre-conference.  Please refer to the proposal guidelines and complete the training proposal submission form online.  If you have questions about filling out the online form, please contact Adrienne Packard at adrienne.packard@americanbar.orgTraining proposals are due no later than October 15, 2012.
  • 9.14.12 – the continuing rise of self-help centers for litigants who represent themselves in civil matters (in most cases b/c they can’t afford a lawyers and legal aid doesn’t have the resources to handle the case): People in Macoupin County [Illinois] who can’t afford to hire an attorney soon will be getting online help through the efforts of the court system and the Carlinville library.  A free online legal self-help center will be accessible to anyone with a computer connected to the Internet….  The Macoupin legal self-help center is one of 91 throughout Illinois, each in a separate county.  Start-up funding for the legal center is provided by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation through a state appropriation.” (Story from the State Journal-Register.
  • 9.14.12 – this news items contains a good lesson for law students about a very, very inappropriate use of social media.  “A Miami-Dade judge declared a mistrial in a murder case Wednesday after a defense lawyer posted a photo of her client’s leopard-print underwear on Facebook.  [Defendant Fermin Recalde’s] family brought him a bag of fresh clothes to wear during trial. When Miami-Dade corrections officers lifted up the pieces for a routine inspection, Recalde’s public defender Anya Cintron Stern snapped a photo of Recalde’s briefs with her cellphone, witnesses said.   While on a break, the 31-year-old lawyer posted the photo on her personal Facebook page with a caption suggesting the client’s family believed the underwear was ‘proper attire for trial.’  Although her Facebook page is private and can only be viewed by her friends, somebody who saw the posting notified Miami-Dade Judge Leon Firtel, who declared a mistrial.  And Cintron Stern was immediately fired, according to Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez, whose office represents clients who cannot afford a private attorney.”  (Article from the Miami Herald.)
  • 9.13.12 – “The Ford Foundation…announced plans to place as many as 100 students from Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, New York University School of Law and Yale Law School in public interest summer jobs in 2013.   Public interest fellowships typically pay stipends just large enough to cover basic costs. By contrast, the Ford fellows will receive $15,000 for summer work at an array of high-profile public interest organizations, including the Brookings Institution, the Environmental Defense Fund and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The foundation has committed $1.75 million for the inaugural year.”  (Article in the National Law Journal.)
  • Music!  A few weeks ago I went to a great concert featuring punk-rock legend Bob Mould.  Mould’s had a fascinating music career trajectory.  He started off as the front-man in legendary punk band Husker Du, moved into indie rock, then electronica, then back to rock.  Now one never knows quite what he’s going to get into.  But he played a great rock show here in DC a couple of weeks back.  So here’s “See A Little Light,” a lighter song from his 1989 s0lo debut. 

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Job o’ the Day: Academic Fellows Program at Columbia Law School

Are you a recent law graduate with an interest in becoming a full-time law professor in the future? The Academic Fellows program at Columbia Law School is currently accepting applications from those with strong academic credentials and promise of becoming an outstanding legal scholar.

From the PSJD job listing:

Columbia Law School Academic Fellows will have the opportunity to spend one to two years in residence at Columbia Law School where they will pursue their scholarly agendas and participate in the Law School’s intellectual life.

Academic Fellows are expected to produce a serious work of scholarship that will position them to enter the job market for a full-time academic appointment at a major law school. Typically, between one and three Fellows are selected each year.

Columbia Law School Academic Fellows will receive a stipend, anticipated to be around $60,000, as well as fringe benefits, including eligibility for subsidized housing, and space to work at the law school. Typically, between one and three Fellows are selected each year.

For more information on the Academic Fellows program, check out the full listing at (log-in required)!


Conference: “She Leads” 5th Annual Conference on Women & The Law in Washington DC

Ms. JD, an organization committed to improving the experiences of female law students and lawyers, has partnered up with the American University Washington College of Law to present its annual SHE Leads conference in Washington, DC.

She Leads presents young women attorneys and law students with the opportunity to connect with the nation’s most talented leaders in the law. At She Leads, participants will develop core leadership skills, which can be applied in law school, legal practice, the government, or at non-profits. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet top lawyers, hear from incredible and inspiring speakers, connect with other attorneys and law students in the field, and plan for a year ahead working together on future collaborations.

Click here for more information on registering for the She Leads Conference!


Civil Rights Pioneer and Law School Dean Joshua Morse III Dies at 89

by Ashley Matthews

Last Friday, the legal academic world lost a civil rights pioneer in Joshua Morse III, former dean of both University of Mississippi School of Law and Florida State University College of Law.

As dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law in the 1960s, Joshua Morse III ushered in a new era of diversity in the state’s legal profession and judiciary by admitting the school’s first black law students. Morse rebelliously defied segregation at the height of the African-American civil rights movement, fighting against Mississippi’s legal establishment. This bold move led to an unprecedented six-year progressive period for the University of Mississippi School of Law.

 From The New York Times:

Mr. Morse admitted Ole Miss’s first black law students in 1963, a year after James Meredith became the first black to enroll at the university, a watershed event in the civil rights struggle. By 1967 black enrollment at the law school had expanded to about 20 in a student body of 360.

Black graduates were soon admitted to the state bar, joining a legal fraternity defined by alumni of Ole Miss, the state’s only law school, which Time magazine called the “prep school for political power in Mississippi.”

Reuben Anderson, the first black graduate of the school, in 1968, went on to become the first black appointee to the State Supreme Court and the first black president of the Mississippi bar. The school’s first black woman to graduate, Constance Slaughter-Harvey, in 1970, became the first black woman to be named a judge in Mississippi.

Mr. Morse’s achievements remain legend in legal education circles. John Egerton, in his 1991 book, “Shades of Gray: Dispatches From the Modern South,” wrote: “The Ole Miss Law School’s six-year orbit into activism was a spectacular aberration, a reversal of form that briefly turned a conservative institution into one of the most progressive and experimental in the nation.”

While dean of Ole Miss Law School, Morse used a $437,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to recruit minority law students and bring in more Ivy League law professors. Under his leadership, professors prepared federal lawsuits on voting rights and civil liberties, and also recruited law students to participate in legal clinics offering assistance to the poor.

In 1969, Morse stepped down amid rising political pressure that forced Ole Miss professors to choose between teaching and helping those who faced poverty and oppression. Morse chose to leave, and spent the rest of his years as a professor and Dean of the College of Law at Florida State University. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, three children, and six grandchildren.