Like many, I first met Richard Parker at the ABA Administrative Law Section’s fall conference many years ago. Richard was so welcoming to a new junior colleague. His smile was infectious. But I really got to know Richard when I helped teach a course with him for his semester in Washington, D.C. I was deputy director of the Association of American Law Schools at the time. We had such fun working together, and I learned more about negotiated rulemaking, one of Richard’s passions, than I ever wanted to know. That was a difficult time for me for many reasons, one of which involved my daughter’s health. Often, after medical appointments, I had to bring Kaylee to class with me. She was 11 at the time. Richard welcomed her without question and treated her with respect. When I left D.C., Richard always remembered to ask after her and her health. I was delighted to say that she’s doing great now; finishing up her last year at Skidmore College (which is incredibly ironic for the daughter of an administrative law professor, no?).
Richard was also a very active member of the Section, serving as a chair of various committees and then as a council member. During that time, he started the now defunct Outing Club. (In the picture above, Richard is holding the oar in the middle of the raft). He then served as our section delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. I recruited Richard to the latter position shortly before my term as chair and worked closely with him during his term. As Professor Ron Levin, the Section’s other delegate, observed:
As Delegate, he became the Section’s point man on a host of issues that came before the House, ranging from climate change to disability accommodations on airplanes (a subject on which he had earlier led a reg-neg) to government lawyers’ participation in professional activities. Richard was always direct and unpretentious, always trustworthy and cooperative, always gracious and good-humored. He was a great friend, and his passing is a terrible loss to the Section, just as it is a loss to legal academe and to the field of administrative law.
As Professor Jeff Lubbers remarked, “Richard was a true gentleman and a scholar. While he was very mild-mannered, he was often the life of the party (or Section receptions). He also had strong convictions, especially about the need for stronger health, safety, and environmental regulation, and was able to back up his point of view with strong empirical evidence. See for example, Richard W. Parker, The Faux Scholarship Foundation of the Regulatory Rollback Movement, 45 Ecology L.Q. 845 (2018). Richard was a friend to all of us.”
Yes, he was. And he will be missed.
Linda D. Jellum is a past chair of the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, and the Ellison Capers Palmer Sr. Professor of Tax Law at the Mercer University School of Law.