Emeritus Prof. Roy F. Proffitt
For several generations of Michigan Law students and alumni, the kindly face of Roy F. Proffitt was also the face of the Law School itself. So it was with great sadness that members of the Law School family learned this week of his death at age 93.
Emeritus Professor Proffitt, who earned his JD and LLM degrees at Michigan in 1948 and 1956, joined Michigan's law faculty in 1956 and served in that role for more than 30 years. In addition to teaching admiralty and criminal law, he also served as assistant and associate dean. Additionally, he helped lead the Law School Fund, now in its 50th year, to make it easier for alumni to give back to the Law School.
"Roy Proffitt's warm and friendly demeanor helped define Michigan Law for hundreds of students over the years. Alumni remembered him with affection and gratitude," said Law School Dean Evan Caminker. "It's no wonder he was able to build such a strong alumni network, and to help foster Michigan Law's culture of giving back to the community."
Professor Proffitt was born in Hastings, Neb., the, son of Harry and Vera Proffitt. He earned a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Nebraska in 1940, then, with World War II looming, joined the United States Naval Reserve. He began active service as a seaman apprentice, survived Pearl Harbor, then went on to serve in the Naval Reserve for decades after the war. He retired from the Navy as a commander.
After his wartime duty he came to Michigan Law. He practiced for a time in Greeley, Colo., then accepted faculty appointments at the University of Nebraska and the University of Missouri before returning to Michigan for the remainder of his career.
Perhaps that wide breadth of experience gave Professor Proffitt his legendary empathy, said Emeritus Professor Theodore J. St. Antoine, who was dean of the Law School during some of Professor Proffitt's career.
"Roy embodied the human face of the Law School," St. Antoine said. "Formally or informally, he was dean of students, principal fundraiser, placement advisor, and dispenser of financial aid. In the latter capacity, to the everlasting gratitude of a legion of graduates, the funds often came out of Roy's own pocket."
Professor Proffitt is survived by his wife of 67 years, Jean Humphrey Proffitt. Memorials in memory of Roy Proffitt may be made to the Carolina Meadows Residents Remembrance and Gift Fund, 100 Carolina Meadows Dr., Chapel Hill, N.C., 27517 or to the Roy F. and Jean Humphrey Proffitt Professorship, University of Michigan Law School, 625 South State Street, Ann Arbor, Mich., 48109.