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Frederica Koller Lombard

Frederica Koller Lombard

Died: Friday, June 17, 2011
Age: 72
Longtime Grosse Pointe resident Frederica Koller Lombard, 72, died Friday, June 17, 2011, of congestive heart failure at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

She was the first woman to serve as a professor of law at Wayne State University Law School and was a longtime dean during her 41 years at the school.

Born April 22, 1939, in Reading, Pa., she deflected her parents desire that she train to become a secretary and instead because the first member of her family to attend college. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1961 and from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1964 where she was an editor of the Law Review. Following a clerkship for the chief judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, she earned a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School.

Mrs. Lombard began teaching at Wayne State University Law School in 1966, one of only a handful of female law professors in the nation. She met her husband, Arthur Lombard, who joined the law school faculty the same year. They married in 1968 and for several decades were the longest married couple in American law teaching.

In the 1970s, Mrs. Lombard was a founding member of Wayne State’s Commission on the Status of Women which made strides correcting gender inequalities on campus. On the national level, she worked closely with another young law professor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, to establish accreditation standards which prohibit law schools and firms interviewing on campus from discriminating against women. She played a significant role in litigation which ordered the nation’s major university retirement plan, TIAA-CREF, to abandon its practice of paying female retirees lower monthly benefits than men because women generally live longer.

In 1992, Mrs. Lombard was appointed association dean of the Wayne State Law School. She held the position for an unprecedented 13 years. In 2003-2004 she served as interim Dean of the Law School. She had a major role in the expansion of the law school building in the early 2000s. Upon her retirement, at the urging of the student body, a major scholarship program was renamed the Lombard Scholarship Fund.

For the past 30 years, she and her husband were enthusiastic volunteers at the Manchester Music Festival, a chamber music festival near their vacation home in Vermont. At the time of her death, she was secretary of the festival’s board of directors.

In December 2005, Mrs. Lombard underwent the first reported bone marrow transplant for a rare and fatal form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard. The transplant was successful and she will be forever known there as “Patient One.”

Mrs. Lombard is survived by her husband of 42 years, Wayne County Circuit Judge Arthur Lombard; daughter, Lisa Lombard; son, David Lombard and his wife, Ramona Uritescu-Lombard and grandson, Alexander Lombard.

A private funeral was held.
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