William Lampe


Bill died May 24 in Israel. “He traveled to Israel after graduating from law school, ostensibly on a year’s work/study program, but chose to remain permanently,” says his wife Lucy, who met him on the program. “Bill was accepted to the Israeli Bar, which, aside from involving written and oral exams, required a year’s apprenticeship and mastering Hebrew at the highest level. He had a most distinguished professional career in public service, entirely in the office of the District Attorney, and truly made his mark in the local legal world. And, of course, he was always a superb tennis player.

“As he reached retirement in 2012, Bill began to present indications of dementia. He traveled that year to New Haven for the 45th reunion, and perhaps some who met him then sensed the symptoms. It was a slow, progressive deterioration until his death in the spring of this year.”

“Bill was a real gentleman,” says Joe Cohen. “I knew him through Hillel. He was a low-key guy and self-effacing, someone I regretted not being more friendly with. He was a committed Jew, and I wasn’t surprised when I heard he made Aliyah to Israel. As saddened as I was to learn of his death, I know he had a lot of ‘nachas’ from his three children and eleven grandchildren.”

“Bill was the first classmate I met, on our first day at Yale,” says Mike Orlansky. “We were waiting on a long line outside Dwight Hall for some registration tasks, and struck up a conversation. We talked about where we were from, what we might major in, and other first-day-of-college things. Over the next four years, we’d occasionally see each other around campus. Bill had a demanding academic schedule and was active in several organizations and Berkeley sports teams, but was never too busy to pause for a friendly talk. He seemed to have a strong character and a serious sense of purpose. Although I didn’t know Bill all that well, I feel sure he went on to have many meaningful achievements in his life, and was respected and admired by those who knew and worked with him. I can’t think of a better person to have met up with on that long-ago first day on the Old Campus.”

“Bill had the ability to share persuasive insights in a gentle, even tentative voice,” says Cliff Allo. “The most valuable for me occurred in November of 1971 when I was a first year law student at Michigan and he a veteran of the Harvard Law School. He was home for Thanksgiving in Ann Arbor and met me at the law school. In about ten minutes he showed me how to read not just an individual case but rather a casebook as a whole and from that close reading to create a terse, useful course outline. That lesson and skill served me well not only for the next three years of recitations and exams but also for the rest of my working career.

“While living in the North Quad of Berkeley, we had the habit of snacking at the Pizza House the other side of Pierson and Davenport. As a condition of becoming the charter customer for my pizza delivery service junior year – I would solicit four orders in order to get the bonus free pizza for myself – he insisted that I get crushed red peppers for our use. I did so and we jointly discovered that few pizzerias in our joint experience had ever provided fresh pepper on the tables. I can still remember how hot that particular pizza was. We also played a lot of bridge, even senior year when he was hard at work on his Biography of Chief Sealth, for whom the City of Seattle was named. Even though I had my ukulele (purchased freshman year from Mark Princi) and he had his banjo, we had the wisdom never to attempt a hootenanny.”