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William Louis Rosbe

Died: January 21, 1995

In many ways and in most everything he did, Bill Rosbe personified excellence. One pictures Bill walking across the Yale campus with his characteristically quick and purposeful step, carrying several books under one arm, acknowledging friends with the other, his infectious grin indicating how happy he was to be at Yale. Bill majored in economics, was on the Dean’s List, and held the Honorary Yale National Scholarship. He lived in Branford College, was a freshman counselor his senior year, and participated in many diverse activities, including drama as well as intramural basketball, tennis and squash. He was a natural leader and a standout midshipman in the NROTC, selected to be student commander of the Yale Battalion and the recipient of the Navy Sword in his senior year. Perhaps above all, Bill took great pleasure in sport and was a fierce competitor, especially on the squash courts where he could be found several times each week. Matches were intense, and Bill would neither ask for nor give quarter to his opponents, but there was never anything unfair or mean about his games. Win or lose he was a gentleman.

Bill was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer the morning of our class’s graduation in June 1966. After six months at Quantico, Virginia, Bill chose to become a Marine Corps aviator. After earning his wings he flew more than 200 combat missions during the Vietnam war and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for one mission involving the rescue of pilots downed behind enemy lines.

After discharge from the Marine Corps Bill enrolled at Cornell Law School, graduating in 1975 and joining the highly-regarded Richmond, Virginia firm of Hunton & Williams, practicing there for the next 20 years. He specialized in environmental law and became one of the leading environmental lawyers in the country. He served as chairman of the Environmental Law Section of the Virginia State Bar, vice chairman of the Electric Power Committee of the American Bar Association, and was on the Board of Advisors of the EPA Administrative Law Reporter.

While excelling in his career, Bill patronized the arts, especially plays and opera, and also found time to give back. He was an active volunteer in many groups. Among other things, he worked as assistant general counsel to the Virginia Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America and participated in a program providing legal services to residents of Richmond and surrounding counties who would otherwise be unable to afford an attorney.

Sadly and unfairly, in the end, fate was not kind to Bill. In September, 1993 his wife, Lucy, was killed in a small plane crash. For the next several months Bill struggled to recover from Lucy’s loss and did make progress. But, on January 21, 1995, returning from the opera, the car Bill was driving was hit broadside by a drunk driver. Tragically, both Bill and his passenger were killed.