Michael and I regret to announce the death of our colleague John Gaubatz. John was a long-time member of the UM faculty, a strong teacher in the classic socratic mold, a nationally recognized scholar in the field of trusts and estates, and (as chair of the admissions committee) a pioneer in the use of personal computers in law school administration. John was a vigorous proponent of moot courts as a law school teaching medium, writing an important book in support of his views. The law school's moot court competition now bears his name — a fitting honor. We will remember John Gaubatz for his character, unquestioned integrity, intellectual honesty, and hard work — and also for the gifts of his friendship and humor. We extend our condolences especially to John's wife Kathy — like John a distinctive, independent presence, and a person of great accomplishment.
I was saddened when I heard the announcement of Professor Gaubatz’s death. I was fortunate to have him as Professor of a course called “Elements” in my first year of law school in the fall of 1995. By that time he was somewhat of a legend on campus and Alumni warned me to pay close attention in his class. I remember his tall, lanky physique and wide grin. At times you could see him riding a bicycle around the campus. He also wore unusual ties, my favorite of which was lavender which complimented his complexion and I told him so. In class, he would take out his note cards and whenever he called on a student he would preface it with Mr. or Mrs. Whenever he called out a Mr. — all the females in the class would sigh in relief and vice versa. At first, I must admit, I did not enjoy the course. In fact, to this day, I think it should be offered as the last course one should take before graduation. It took me nearly the entire semester to realize that the questions he asked were not necessarily found in the class readings. Many of the questions he raised did not have closure but were raised because he wanted his students to think creatively, learn the craft of legal argument, debate and discourse. During one lively class session where the class was divided into teams he played the role of a magistrate and brought a gavel to class. When he struck it against the wood desk everyone became silent. I often thought if I were to take the course again, I would enjoy it so much more.
During my last semester he congratulated me on passing the Ethics portion of the Exam as I was still waiting to take the complete Bar exam. I was taken by his kindness and professionalism. At Christmas 2005, I visited the campus and had an opportunity to speak to Dr. Gaubatz on the bricks. He had just returned from treatment and seemed in good spirits. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to talk to him once more at that time. To his family and close friends I express my deepest condolences.
Nicolette Mason, Esq.
Although I was not a student of Dr. Gaubatz I knew his family fairly well. His son Daniel was like an older brother to me. I spent quite a bit of time at his home in my youth and till today miss Daniel and his farther very much.
My belated condolences to his wife Kathryn Gaubatz.