April 19, 2018

David Getches, Former Dean of CU Law School, Passes Away

By now, you’ve surely heard the sad news: University of Colorado School of Law’s former dean, David Getches, passed away on Tuesday, July 5. David served as dean of the law school up until last Friday, when he was replaced by Phil Weiser. The transition was planned almost a year ago, as he wanted to return to the teaching faculty after serving as dean for eight years. David died in his home of pancreatic cancer, which was only diagnosed in early June.

According to the Daily Camera, David became a member of the CU Law faculty in 1979, and became dean of the school in 2003. During his tenure, he oversaw the opening of the $40 million Wolf Law Building in 2006. David also worked hard to increase scholarship money for those going to the school, and increased the school’s endowment 80 percent since 2003. Click here to read some comments from his colleagues at CU Law School.

And David’s legacy is not confined to the law school. He earned his undergraduate degree from Occidental College in California and his law degree from the University of Southern California School of Law. He began his legal career in 1967 with the law firm of Luce, Forward, Hamilton and Scripps in San Diego. In 1968, he was co-directing attorney for California Indian Legal Services and, in 1970, he moved to Colorado to become the founding executive director for the Boulder-based Native American Rights Fund, a national, nonprofit Indian-interest law firm. Additionally, from 1983 to 1987, David served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources under Governor Richard D. Lamm.

A memorial service for David is being planned and will be announced at a later date. Check back with Legal Connection for details, we’ll pass them on to you when they become available. Contributions can be sent to the David H. Getches Scholarship Fund.

For now, we’d like to invite you to use the comments section below to post your thoughts, memories, and sentiments about David. He will be missed.

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  1. Ed Bristow says:

    I remember David from my years at the Native American Rights Fund. Even though he had left the organization before my time there, he maintained strong ties with the NARF attorneys. I considered him a mentor who had a vast storehouse of knowledge and useful advice. He will be sorely missed!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am a current student at Colorado Law School. Dean Getches had such a wonderful energy around our school. He always had such positive things to say, and he never failed to make the students feel welcome. His presence will be missed.

  3. Ken Wonstolen says:

    I just returned today from a trip to Costa Rica and was shocked to see this sad news. David was my professor in Indian and Natural Resources law classes in the mid-70’s (Class of 1977) and was an important mentor and influence on my subsequent career, beginning with a clerkship under Rick Collins at NARF. We had the opportunity to work together in his capacity as DNR Director when I was at the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, and our paths continued to cross over the years. David was a man of great integrity, intellect and achievement who has left an indelible legacy for the Colorado legal community.


  1. […] David Getches of CU Law Passes Away CBA-CLE Legal ConnectionConnecting You to the Latest in Colorado Law :: Continuing Legal Education in ColoradoHome […]

  2. […] became dean of the school in 2003. He resigned from the position at the end of June this year, and died of pancreatic cancer just a few days later. During his tenure at the school, he oversaw the opening of the Wolf Law […]

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