In Memoriam: Harry H. Wellington

Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law Harry H. Wellington, a constitutional law and labor law scholar and former dean of both Yale Law School and New York Law School, died Monday, Aug. 8. He was 84.

“Harry was a serene presence in the Law School. He possessed a character notable for its integrity and clarity. He illuminated everything and everyone he touched,” said Robert Post ’77, dean of the Yale Law School.

Wellington joined the Yale Law School faculty in 1956 as an assistant professor of law after having taught at Stanford Law School for a year. He was promoted to associate professor at Yale Law School in 1957, to full professor in 1960, to the Edward J. Phelps Professor of Law in 1967, and to Sterling Professor in 1983. He became dean of Yale Law School in 1975 and served in that role until 1985.

“Harry Wellington was as good a scholar, teacher and dean as the Yale Law School has ever had. He was also a wonderful person and a dear, dear friend,” said Guido Calabresi ’58, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law, whose deanship of Yale Law School succeeded Wellington’s.

Harry Wellington was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1947 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1952. Wellington served as law clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge Calvert Magruder and later to Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter.

Upon his retirement from the Yale Law School faculty in 1992, Wellington joined the faculty at New York Law School where he served as president and dean. He served as dean of New York Law School until 2000 and retired from teaching in 2007.

Wellington’s scholarly work first focused on contracts before moving into labor law. He also had expertise in constitutional law and legal theory. His publications include “Interpreting the Constitution: The Supreme Court and the Process of Adjudication”; “Labor Law” (with Clyde W. Summers and Alan Hyde); “The Unions and the Cities” (with Ralph K. Winter); and “Labor and the Legal Process.”

He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute. He had been a Ford and Guggenheim Fellow, and a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution.

“Harry Wellington’s many treasured years in our midst at what he called “THE Law School” blessed us with the contributions of a wonderful scholar, the leadership of a dedicated dean, the mirth of a talented humorist, and the friendship of a dear, dear colleague. His presence here was a great, irreplaceable gift,” said John Simon ’53, the Augustus E. Lines Professor Emeritus at Yale Law School.

Wellington is survived by his wife, Sheila; two sons, John and Thomas; a daughter-in-law, Lenni Benson; and two grandchildren, Max and Lily Wellington.

Internment will be held privately.

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