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Donald B. King: 1932-2022

Donald B. King, professor emeritus with the School of Law, passed away on Oct. 20, 2022, in Lake Sherwood, MO. He was 90 years old.


Donald B. King, professor emeritus with the School of Law, passed away on October, 20, 2022 in Lake Sherwood, MO. He was 90 years old.

“He left quite a mark on SLU LAW in his more than 25 years as a member of the faculty, especially in terms of international engagement, and in other ways as well,” said William P. Johnson, dean of the School of Law. “His career and his life were inspiring and rich with experience and accomplishment. I pray that fond memories of Don provide a source of comfort to those who knew him well.”

King joined the School of Law faculty in 1964 where he focused his scholarship on the intersection of commercial transactions and international consumer law writing over 12 legal textbooks and over 100 journal articles. He was the co-author of Commercial Transactions Under the U.C.C.; Consumer Protection in China; Sales Law; Negotiable Instruments and Payment Systems; Purchasing Manager’s Desk Book of International Perspective; and Essays on Comparative Commercial, Consumer and Comparative Law.

“In the field of commercial law, Don was frequently published and was active in the law reform activities of the American Law Institute where he was an elected member,” said Michael Wolff, professor and dean emeritus. “I saw Don as a frequent debater in annual meetings of ALI not just in commercial law but in other subjects as well.”

Though well known for his commercial and international work, King was also active in the civil rights movement.

“His interest in the role of law in advancing civil rights was longstanding,” said Brendan Roediger, director of the civil advocacy clinic. “He can be credited for establishing a foundation for much of the work we do in the Legal Clinics today.”

He edited Legal Aspects of the Civil Rights Movement in 1965. His attention in this regard ultimately focused on the rights of children. Professor King helped to plan and launch the Juvenile Delinquency Forum and its accompanying legal clinic in 1967. He was also the founding director of the National Juvenile Law Center, then housed at St. Louis University. The organization focused on law reform and litigation work on behalf of children. In this role, he authored 100 Injustices to the Child, detailing the inadequacies and harms of the juvenile justice system.

King was also along time member of Phi Beta Kappa and a life member of the American Law Institute. He was the founder and past president of the International Academy of Commercial and Consumer Law. He co-organized the first and second International Conferences of the Academy held in Mexico and Austria. He lectured in England, Australia, Sweden, China, Egypt, and Israel and had been a visiting professor at the University of Cincinnati, Stetson School of Law and Sichuan University.

“Don was a true scholar, always on the cutting edge of legal development in his area of interest, a comparativist before there were many, and a genuinely kind person,” said friend and colleague Henry Ordower.

Following his retirement from the School of Law, the King family established an award in his honor. The King Family Award is an annual student award that recognizes outstanding achievement in the Master of Laws for Foreign Lawyers Program.

Born on July 11, 1932, in Corvallis, OR, he received his B.S. from Washington State University, J.D. from Harvard Law, LL.M. from New York University School of Law, and M.S.W. from Saint Louis University. He was married for 63 years to the late Judith S. King and leaves behind two children, Carmen Maria and Donald George.

A private graveside service will be held at Femme Osage Cemetery in Augusta, MO.

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