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In Memoriam: Etha Beatrice Fox, Class of 1939

September 14, 2012

The IIT Chicago-Kent community celebrates the life of Chicago attorney Etha Beatrice Fox '39, known as "Bea" to her legion of friends and colleagues in the legal profession, who died September 8. Possessed of a keen legal mind and a trailblazing spirit, Bea championed the cause of women lawyers in Illinois as few have done before or since.

Born in Chicago in 1914, Bea earned her A.B. at Roosevelt University and her M.B.A. at University of Chicago, in addition to earning her J.D. at Chicago-Kent. One of the few women lawyers of her time, Bea was admitted to practice in the Illinois Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the U.S. Court of Military Appeals.

In 1944, Bea joined the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, serving during World War II and retiring with the rank of captain in 1974. Between 1942 and 1974, she worked nine years in the Office of Rent Stabilization in Chicago and 17 years as law clerk to the Honorable Win G. Knoch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Bea served for 40 years as an officer, including that of president, of the Women's Bar Foundation. She was celebrated as a tireless advocate of women in the legal profession. Indeed, in her oral history for the ABA, Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals refers to Bea as someone "who should have been a federal judge, who was a career clerk to two federal judges, who mentored and aided and helped us."

Bea was a generous donor to the Chicago-Kent building campaign of 1957 to 1959, which doubled the law school's space on North Franklin St. In 1978, she was elected a fellow of the Chicago-Kent Honor Council. For more than 20 years she was a volunteer with the American Red Cross, for 56 years a volunteer reader for Recording for the Blind, and for 61 years a member of the Chicago Sinai Congregation. She was closely involved with the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility.

It is a distinct privilege to count Bea among our law school alumni. We extend our sympathies to her many friends and colleagues.