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Release: March 1, 2001

UI mourns death of law professor Alan I. Widiss

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa is mourning the loss of UI College of Law professor Alan I. Widiss, who died yesterday, (Wednesday, Feb. 28) in Washington, D.C., of an apparent heart attack. Widiss was 62 years old.

Widiss had taken a group of students in his Church and State Seminar class to Washington, D.C. to observe a U.S. Supreme Court argument and to visit some government offices. Widiss' wife Ellen, and one of the couple's daughters were in his company when he passed away, said N. William Hines, dean of the law school.

"Alan Widiss, who was the college's Josephine R. Witte Distinguished Professor of Law at Iowa, was a distinguished professor in every sense of the term," Hines said.

"He was a popular teacher, much beloved by his students; he was a internationally recognized scholar, one of the world's foremost experts in insurance law; and he was a great institutional person, always ready to offer his considerable talents in the service of the college, the university, and the state. Alan spent his entire 35-year academic career at Iowa; his loss leaves a gap it will be almost impossible to fill."

Widiss' law specialty focused on insurance regulation and insurance law, and at the time of his death, he was working on new editions of his widely used insurance law books. For a number of years, he had been called to serve as an expert witness on insurance coverage questions and he had consulted and written widely on arbitration.

He was the Advisor for the American Bar Association Litigation Section's Task Force on Environmental Litigation, and he had chaired several committees of the ABA, the Association of American Law Schools, and at the UI.

Widiss graduated from the University of Southern California School of Law in 1963, and in 1964 received a master of laws degree from Harvard University, where he held the title of Teaching Fellow, before joining the UI law faculty as an assistant professor in 1965. He was named an associate professor in 1968, professor in 1969, and was named to his distinguished professorship position in 1978.

Hines said the Widiss family hopes to be able to fly Alan's body back to Iowa City today. The family has not yet announced funeral arrangements and have not yet made arrangements for a local memorial service.

Additional information about funeral plans, memorial gifts, support and other information about Widiss' Iowa City family will be made known when details are available, Hines said. The law school community plans to hold a memorial event at the law school next week.