Robert Popper

Robert Popper, 74, of Kansas City, MO, passed away February 9, leaving the world a better place than he found it. A loving man of integrity, keen intellect, sharp wit, and savoir-faire, Bob will be missed by his beloved wife of 44 years Mary Ann, son Robert and wife Virginia, and daughter Julianne and husband Lee Story, and adoring grandchildren, Emily, James and Carolyn. He was well respected and loved by his extended family, his many friends and all who knew him. Bob was born in 1932 in New York City. He was a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science; the University of Wisconsin, B.A.; Harvard University School of Law, LL.B.; and New York University School of Law, LL.M. In 1956, Bob was drafted into the U.S. Army and guarded the nation’s gold at Ft. Knox. After honorable discharge, Bob worked in the Legal Aid Society, was an Assistant District Attorney, and worked at the law firm of Seligson & Morris, all in New York City. During that time, Bob met the woman who would become the love of his life and in 1963, Bob, ever the romantic, eloped with Mary Ann Schaefer, forming an unwavering union of love that lasted four-and-a-half decades. In 1969, Bob and Mary Ann brought their young family to Kansas City, where Bob joined the faculty of the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law and became a pillar of the city’s legal community. He specialized in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Law. After serving as interim dean for two years, Bob was appointed dean of the law school in 1984, serving until 1993. While at the university, he was a member of UMKC’s Senior Management Team. He was the Chairperson of the University of Missouri Task Force on Ethics and Conflicts of Interest, as well as chairperson and member of many other school committees. He also earned countless professional awards and honors. In 1982, he was given the University of Kansas City Board of Trustees Faculty Fellowship Award. He was a proud civil libertarian, serving as Vice President of the Western Missouri Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1991, he was honored as Civil Libertarian of the Year by the chapter. Always a favorite of students, he was recognized as Outstanding Professor in the Law School by the 1997 graduating class. Bob was a member of the Bars of New York and Missouri, the United States Supreme Court, and various United States District Courts and Courts of Appeal. He was a prolific writer, authoring the book, “Post Conviction Remedies in a Nutshell” and countless published articles. He was an active lecturer for the Missouri and Kansas Bars, including a guest professorship on International Human Rights at University College Dublin. He was a member of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and served on the board of directors of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Missouri Institute for Justice, and The Midwest Innocence Project. He is listed in “Who’s Who in America.” In 2006, UMKC School of Law established the Robert Popper Scholarship in his honor. In retirement, Bob stayed active in various legal, humanitarian, and educational groups. He enjoyed his grandchildren and traveling with Mary Ann. Bob was a man of rare decency and spirit who enjoyed his family, his friends and his life. He got the most out of every day but always managed to give more than he took. He will be missed and loved forever. Contributions in his honor may be made to the Robert Popper Scholarship at the UMKC School of Law or to Kansas City Hospice.

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