Thirty years ago Anne Dupre was a fifth-grade teacher in West Palm Beach, Fla. During a conversation with friends there, the question arose: What would you be if you could be anything you wanted?
Her husband, Bill Dupre, said he'd be third baseman for the Boston Red Sox; Mrs. Dupre said she'd be a lawyer. Her husband's immediate response was: "Well, I know I'll never be a Red Sox third baseman, but you can certainly become a lawyer."
And so she did, even becoming a molder of lawyers.
She went on to graduate first in her class from the University of Georgia School of Law and become editor of its law review. From there, she clerked for U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J.L. Edmondson in Atlanta and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun in Washington.
She stayed in Washington several years more working for the prestigious law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge before returning to the University of Georgia as a member of its law school faculty in 1994.
In that position, she was revered by her students and much respected by her academic peers. Said UGA law school Dean Rebecca White, "Anne was passionate about turning out the best possible lawyers from our school. I'm convinced she changed the lives of many students for the better."
One of those students, Kate Cornwell, class of 2012, said Mrs. Dupre was unlike any professor she has ever had, in law school or elsewhere.
"She called on me my first day of law school for the entire hour in a class on contracts. I’ll never forget it. In that hour Professor Dupre both humbled me and gave me confidence -- something I’m sure she set out to do, since she understood that great attorneys possess both traits.
"She did not just teach us the law; she taught us to be cognizant of the morality necessary to implement it in our future careers. She molded us into better law students and better people," Ms. Cornwell said.
Anne Proffitt Dupre, 58, died Wednesday at her Athens home of small-cell cervical cancer. A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. July 3 at Bernstein Funeral Home in Athens. The family wishes that any gifts in her memory be made out to the University of Georgia Foundation Hirsch Hall Fund, indicating the gift is for the Professor Anne Proffitt Dupre Scholarship, and mailed to the Office of Development, the University of Georgia School of Law, 225 Herty Drive, Athens, GA 30602.
Paul Kurtz, UGA law school associate dean, said Mrs. Dupre was "the rare person who combined rigorous standards with extraordinary warmth for her students. She was a stern taskmaster who earned the admiration of those who studied under her."
She also knew how to have fun, he said.
"She would invite me into her contracts class as a surprise visitor when the class was studying the law of conditions in contracts, a particularly dry area of the law," he said. "My role was to read the lyrics of an old Kenny Rogers song, ‘Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In.' I read it as a poem while she played the music on a boom box and lit a candle and waved it in the air. The students would howl with laughter to see their ever-serious contracts professor having fun with the subject and with them."
He said he had heard this week from her former students from across the nation. "All have basically the same thing to say: ‘She worked us hard, and we are all grateful for that. She helped to make me the lawyer I am, and I am eternally in her debt.'"
David Shipley, former dean of the UGA law school and currently a professor, said beyond her excellence as a teacher, Mrs. Dupre could be counted on to share duty on academic committees deciding faculty hires, student admissions and curriculum changes. "That involved a lot of hard work and tough calls," he said.
"Anne was dedicated to her students whether they made straight A's or just had passing grades," Mr. Shipley said. "She used to say, ‘There's a name for the person who finishes at the bottom of the class -- he or she is called a lawyer.' In her eyes, everyone who graduated with a J.D. [Juris Doctor] degree was worthy of attention and recognition."
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her father, George Proffitt of Coventry, R.I.
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