Bridging the Past and Present

GW Law’s Stockton Guard at the commencement weekend luncheon

Conversations rise quickly as old friends and acquaintances walk through the doors of the Jacob Burns Law Library. Many of the guests have not seen the campus in years. Striding into the Tasher Great Room, one alumnus remarks that aside from Stockton Hall, most of the buildings did not exist when he went to law school. It’s not just the buildings, another jokes, the food is better, too. The Stockton Guard, composed of GW Law alumni who graduated 40 or more years ago, is gathering to induct its newest members. 

The Stockton Guard honors the longtime connections of alumni to the law school and enjoys a cherished history at GW. At annual events, new members share memories of their years on campus, as well as their careers. The stories weave a colorful oral history that reminds all in attendance of the law school’s roots. 

This year’s group of honor—the Class of 1974—graduated during a tumultuous period that included the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation. “For better or for worse, I think those events shaped our generation of lawyers,” said Wilma Liebman, JD ’74, who served as the convener at the pre-Commencement induction ceremony and brunch.

Alumni also shared lighter memories at the well-attended event. Carol Elder Bruce, JD ’74, recalled how she met her husband, James Bruce, JD ’74, in a first-year contracts class. Their daughter, Barbara Bruce, JD ’14, continued her parents’ legacy at GW Law.

Howard Roy, JD ’68, fondly recalled his experiences with the late Professor David E. Seidelson, whom he greatly admired. He praised Professor Seidelson for instilling confidence in his students rather than creating a confrontational environment. “Whenever he addressed us [in class], his words were, ‘and so, when you are out practicing as a lawyer.’ The assumption was always that you were going to make it,” Mr. Roy said.

Professor Gregory E. Maggs lauded alumni groups from the 1960s and 1970s as some of the most faithful and loyal to the law school. He also recognized Delaware Supreme Court Justice and Stockton Guard member Henry duPont Ridgely, LLM ’74, who was selected from the group to serve as the grand marshal at the 2014 Law School Diploma Ceremony. At a Reunion Weekend event, popular Professor Emeritus James E. Starrs, who joined the faculty in 1964, addressed many of his former students. Stockton Guard members and their guests also had the opportunity to attend a CLE class taught by well-loved former Professor Monroe  Freedman. 

Bringing together former and current members of the law school community, the Stockton Guard provides a strong link between the past and present and encourages alumni to stay involved with their alma mater. Their generosity and perspective help position GW Law for continued success. 

Ryan Travitz