Edward A. Mearns

    March 30, 1930  -  July 3, 2013

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Life Legacy

Edward A. Mearns, Jr. Obituary
March 30, 1930 – July 3, 2013

Our father, Edward A. Mearns, Jr., was born in New York City on March 30, 1930. He was raised on Long Island by his parents, Dorothy (Walsh) and Edward A. Mearns. Although he was their only child, he grew up among a large, extended family of strong women and charming men.

Dad graduated from Southside High School in Rockville Centre, New York, in 1947. At Southside, he was an excellent student and an outstanding athlete, first in basketball, and then in cross country and track.

Dad attended Yale University, graduating in 1951 with a B.S. in Economics. By his own account, he was an average student. But he was the first member of our family to graduate from college, and the experience transformed him. While at Yale, he was also an outstanding athlete. Among other achievements, he was the captain of the Yale cross country team in his senior year.

After graduating from Yale, Dad enlisted in the United States Navy. He served in the Navy for four years; his service included being the legal officer on his ship. Our father was proud of his military experience, and his time in Naples led to his lifelong love for Italy.

Dad enrolled in law school at the University of Virginia in Fall 1955. At UVa Law School, he was Articles Editor of the Law Review. He graduated Order of Coif in 1958, among the top students in his class.

After graduating from law school, our father devoted his professional life to educating others. This commitment to education is one of the three defining characteristics of his wonderful life with us.

Because he was such an outstanding student, Dad was immediately hired to teach at UVa Law School. He taught at UVa for nine years; he also served in various administrative positions, including as Associate Dean. While at UVa, he took a one-year leave to hold the Chair in American Law at the Universities of Rome and Messina in Italy.

After leaving UVa, Dad spent a year on Long Island assisting with the founding of a new law school there, and then he served on the law faculty at Northwestern University for two years.

In 1970, our father was appointed Dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He served for three years, and then he spent a year on the medical faculty at UC, teaching and doing research in the Psychology Department.

In 1974, Dad joined the law faculty at Case Western Reserve University, here in Cleveland. While at CWRU, he also served for four years as Vice Dean of the medical school.

Dad retired in 1998, completing 40 years of service to education. During that time, he taught a wide range of subjects, including: Constitutional Law; Comparative Constitutional Law; Torts; Legal Philosophy; Civil Rights; and Law and Psychiatry and Law and Medicine. In addition to various administrative positions, he also published many articles and papers.

But these appointments, these subjects, and his scholarship do not adequately or fully capture our father’s commitment to education. For what he truly cherished was the opportunity to mentor young men and women. He aspired to enlighten them to appreciate that education was the foundation for a life rich in knowledge, truth, and beauty. And he hoped to inspire them to serve – to serve the cause of justice.

For that cause – his passion for justice and equality – was the second defining characteristic of our father’s wonderful life.

That passion manifested itself early in his professional career. In 1961, he was appointed to serve as a consultant to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. In 1962, he co-authored “Civil Rights U.S.A.—Public Schools: Southern States,” which was a report to the Civil Rights Commission on the status of the implementation of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

In 1976, the Honorable Frank Battisti, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, appointed our father to serve as the Court’s Special Expert in the Cleveland school desegregation case. Dad assisted the court in drafting the remedial order in that case.

Our father passionately believed that a quality education is every child’s fundamental right—a right as important as any right that is expressly articulated in the Constitution. Indeed, he believed that a quality education is the foundation of any free society.

During the last 25 years of his life, our father’s passion for justice expanded to include economic justice. Both before and after his retirement, he taught in universities in Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Russia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Croatia, and he served as Dean of the Faculty of the World Law Institute. His principal focus was advocating for economic and political reforms that would enable all people to have a fair opportunity to work and to receive a fair wage.

Our father’s passion for justice – racial, social, and economic – was rooted in his religious faith. He believed that the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church commanded him to work and advocate for justice.

But this passion also was grounded in his innate compassion for people – all people. Our father was simply a good man.

The third defining characteristic of our father’s life was his love – a boundless, unconditional love – for his family. At the center of this love was our mother.

Our father first saw our mother, Patricia Louise Simonson, at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in 1949. Her beauty prompted him to write her a letter, asking her to go out on a date with him. She agreed because, as she later told us, she had never met a Yale man before.

Their courtship led to their wedding on March 24, 1952. She was only 19 years old at that time, and he would turn 22 the next week.

Over the next 19 years, our father and mother gave life to us – their nine children: Drew, Susan, Leslie, Alison, Geoff, Kathleen, Tracey, Tricia and Evan. Inspired by their love, we in turn gave them 31 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Dad was a loving father. As children, we were very well behaved, but not because he was a stern disciplinarian. Rather, his great love simply led to our respect.

In the last ten years of his life, we all witnessed what true love is. As our mother’s health deteriorated, he insisted on caring for her himself at their home. It was a long ordeal. And, by the end, it became extraordinarily difficult.

But our father never complained. Rather, even during the depths of her dementia, he spoke of how blessed he was to be with her. When many others might have asked to be delivered from this fate, our father thanked God every morning that he awakened in bed next to our mother.

In the final years, we often gathered as a family to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, or a holiday. We enjoyed each other’s company.

We also enjoyed our father’s singing. As a young man, he was a talented singer. And, when we were young children, he regularly sang to us. In his final decade of life, he sang publicly and privately as a way of communicating his love for our mother.

These family gatherings, though, were somewhat bittersweet for us, because of our mother’s condition. But our father never seemed sad, and he never expressed any regret. Rather, when we gathered, our father always reminded us that we were blessed. And he would say: “perfect love makes sacrifice a joy.” Those simple words define our father.

It is sometime said that God is love. If that is true, then we – the nine children of Pat and Ted Mearns – have been blessed with God’s presence.

Edward A. “Ted” Mearns, Jr., beloved husband of the late Patricia S. Mearns (nee Simonson), former Mayor of Shaker Heights. Loving father of Edward A. “Drew” Mearns, III (Kate), Susan Duquette (Tom), Leslie Quinones (Vic), Alison Benders (Larry), Geoffrey S. Mearns (Jennifer), Kathleen Mearns (Tom Wilson), Tracey Frierson (Eddie), Patricia (Tricia) Shea and Evan Carbonell (Alfredo). Grandfather of 31 and great grandfather of two. Beloved son of Dorothy and Edward A. Mearns, Sr. The family prefers that those who wish make contributions in his name to Shaker Family Center at Sussex (Family Connections), 19824 Sussex Rd., Shaker Hts., OH 44122 or to Our Lady of Peace, 12601 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44120 where a Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, July 6th at 11 AM. Interment immediately after the service at All Souls Cemetery. FRIENDS MAY CALL AT BROWN-FORWARD, 17022 CHAGRIN BLVD., SHAKER HTS. FROM 2-4 AND 6-8 PM ON FRIDAY, JULY 5TH.

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Born: March 30, 1930

Place of Birth: Rockville Centre, NY

Death: July 3, 2013

Memorial donations may be made to:
Our Lady of Peace, 12601 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44120
Shaker Family Center at Sussex (Family Connections), 19824 Sussex Rd., Shaker Hts., OH 44122

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