‘Legendary’ University of Minnesota law professor C. Robert ‘Bob’ Morris dies at 92

Bob Morris loved nothing more than to mingle with his fellow University of Minnesota faculty and take promising law students under his wing.

Morris taught torts, property, corporations and business law for 36 years at the U’s law school. He dedicated his life to academia and treated those around him like family. He and his wife, Sandy, regularly attended faculty dinner parties and invited colleagues and students to their home. He also was a staunch advocate for his peers, representing faculty in tenure cases and advocating for the law school as a member of the U’s faculty senate.

Morris, a champion for fairness and equality, died peacefully Oct. 16. He was 92. In his late years, his health declined because of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

“Bob just loved teaching. But he also loved being a part of the university community,” said Sandy Morris, his wife of 50 years. “That was a very, very important part of him.”

Born in 1928 in Denver as Clarence Robert Morris Jr., he was known by his friends and family as Bob and professionally as “C. Robert Morris.” Practicing law was in his blood — his father taught at the University of Wyoming law school and his paternal grandfather was a prominent Denver lawyer. His mother died when he was 14 months old.

After graduating from Yale University with a professional law degree, Morris served in the U.S. Air Force as an assistant staff judge advocate. He later spent 10 years teaching law at Rutgers University before joining the University of Minnesota law school in 1964.

Morris was recognized in his field, co-authoring three editions of “Cases and Materials on Corporations” and helping his father write a book on tort law, which covers most civil suits.

“He offered a lot of insights into what makes for good argument — how to structure it, how to think about it,” said retired U law professor Brad Clary, who was a student on the law school’s national moot court competition team when Morris was an adviser.

Morris taught Clary much about appellate advocacy and legal techniques. Clary said the mentorship set him up for future success; he went on to coach the U’s national moot court competition team and become a full-time law school professor teaching legal writing and appellate advocacy.

Morris also was an advocate for women entering law school. He often counseled older women who were pursuing higher education after raising children, Sandy Morris said. In a fall 2000 article announcing his retirement, Morris credited the prestige of the law school to the increasing number of women seeking law degrees.

A proud Golden Gopher, Morris spent much of his time with his peers. He chaired the university’s tenure committee as it began drafting the current tenure code. And he was a longtime member of a faculty dining club called “Gown in Town,” which he continued to meet with for a decade after his retirement.

“He will be remembered [as] a legendary professor in the law school in his field, and as a wonderful human being,” said Paul Weiblen, a retired U geology professor and longtime friend.

Outside of the university, Morris loved spending time with his wife and their dogs. They attended orchestra, opera, theater and dance performances as well as Gophers football games.

Morris is survived by his wife. There will be no memorial service per his request, but there may be a celebration of life at a later date.

Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234


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