In Memoriam: Warren Heindl '47, Chicago-Kent professor for 45 years

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Chicago-Kent community was saddened by the recent death of Professor Emeritus Warren Heindl '47, who taught at Chicago-Kent from 1949 until 1994. He was 82.

Professor Heindl's teaching touched the lives of generations of Chicago-Kent students. Chicago-Kent's Student Bar Association honored him several times as Teacher of the Year, and in 1993 he received the Dean's Prize for Excellence in Teaching. By his own count, he taught Family Law 75 times during his teaching career, along with other courses such as Conflicts of Law, Administrative Law, Admiralty, Civil Procedure, Negotiable Instruments and Legal Research.

A 1941 graduate of Morton High School in Cicero, Professor Heindl began his legal studies at Chicago-Kent after completing two years at Morton Junior College at a time when neither a college degree nor an LSAT were required for law school admission. In the middle of World War II, classes at Chicago-Kent were small: Professor Heindl's class consisted of six students, and Professor Heindl had to recite on every case in one of his second-year courses because he was the sole student.

Warren Heindl '47, Chicago-Kent professor for 45 years
Warren Heindl '47, Chicago-Kent professor for 45 years

Professor Heindl received his J.D. in 1947 and remained at Chicago-Kent for an additional year to teach a course and complete an LL.M. He earned his bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1949, and continued to teach part-time at Chicago-Kent while working in private legal practice for 14 years. He joined the faculty full-time in 1965. His wife, Margaret '59, taught legal writing at Chicago-Kent. She died last year after 45 years of marriage.

In a 1994 tribute to Professor Heindl in Chicago-Kent Law Review, Chicago-Kent professor Ralph Brill wrote that although Professor Heindl had a gentle and even entertaining manner in the classroom, his exams were notoriously demanding. Professor Heindl believed that the difficult questions, which he wrote anew each time he taught a class, provided "a sound basis for testing the analytical powers of the students," according to Professor Brill.

"He was a dear, sweet man, very bright, and very brave," said Professor Brill. "He had a great, subtle humor. He laughed at himself, and never once said an unkind thing about anyone. He dearly loved Chicago-Kent, and was grateful for the opportunities it gave him to earn a good living in law practice and then to teach."

Although it was difficult not to notice Professor Heindl's cerebral palsy, Professor Brill noted, his students forgot about it within minutes, focusing instead on his impeccable organization, good legal examples and self-deprecating humor.

"Warren Heindl was an extraordinary teacher whose work inspired literally thousands of Chicago-Kent graduates," said Chicago-Kent Dean Harold J. Krent. "For 45 years he gave our law school the best a teacher can offer. Always on top of his game, he was an outstanding role model for would-be and practicing lawyers as well as for students and attorneys faced with physical challenges."

To recognize Professor Heindl's service to Chicago-Kent and honor his memory, the law school is raising funds to establish the Chicago-Kent Disability Fund as an endowed scholarship. The fund—initiated by the Class of 1985 as its 10th reunion class gift—benefits students with disabilities or special needs who have demonstrated academic excellence.