MARY B. EMERY J.D. ’63
Mary B. Emery J.D. ’63, Associate dean and library director of the Santa Clara School of Law, died peacefully on Aug. 7, 2011 at the age of 73. A graduate of Notre Dame High School and San Jose State University, Emery was one of three women in her class—the first to graduate women—and accepted an assistant professor and law librarian job at Santa Clara Law, a position she imagined would be short-term. Instead, her tenure lasted nearly half a century and, in the words of classmate and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ’60, J.D. ‘63, “She devoted her life to helping students become good lawyers and, more important, good citizens. Mary Emery and Santa Clara Law School with always be one—now and forever.”
For her Funeral Mass at the Mission Church on Aug. 12, Dean Donald J. Polden of the law school observed in his eulogy that Emery was a “fierce advocate” and believed “that our institutions—be it the Church or the law school—must reach out to serve and nurture those in our communities and societies who needed it most.” Emery spearheaded efforts to admit more female students and hire more female faculty, and she took great pride in her contributions to minority recruitment. She served on numerous university committees, including co-chairing the law school’s alumni centennial steering committee and the law school’s admissions committee.
Paul Goda, S.J., professor emeritus of law school, presided over the Mass and described Emery as a woman of great presence and “insouciant elegance.” She earned an entire chapter in the history of the law school by Judge Mark Thomas J.D. ’56, From Promise to Prominence, with special admiration for her sense of humor. President Michael Engh, S.J., and Chancellor William Rewak, S.J., co-celebrated the Mass. In his eulogy, Fr. Rewak praised Emery as “one of the selfless individuals who ensured that Santa Clara reflect and communicate its ideals. She helped to keep us on a true path.” JT '12
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