Gregory James Pease, 79, died gently at his home near Lake Jivaro east of Topeka, at 2:30 a.m. on Monday, December 21, 2020. He was born in Springfield, Illinois on December 14, 1941. He and his sister, Judy Pease, grew up in the “sweet” family of Martin Albert Pease, Jr. (“Noonie”) and Katherine Louise James Pease (“Jimmie”). He spent childhood hours at the family cabin near the Sangamon River, fishing and hunting with his buddies, Frankie and Albert. Often on Mondays the family enjoyed filet mignon at Babe and Jim’s Restaurant.
After graduating from Springfield High School, he moved to MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where he completed two years of study. In the fall of 1961 he moved to Wichita, Kansas to major in psychology and English at Wichita State University. There he met Rhea “Joan” Krehbiel in an upper division English class. Two years later they were married (January 26, 1963) in her home town, Pretty Prairie, Kansas. After completing their degrees, they moved in 1964 back to Springfield, where Gregory worked a year in his family’s candy business, but he finally chose instead to begin graduate work at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where he completed one year of philosophy studies and Joan completed an M.A. in English. That summer (1966) some of his lawyer friends suggested he take the law school entrance exam. He did, and he completed a year of law studies. Other friends convinced the Peases to move with them to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1968!
Those two years in Albuquerque (and a year just outside Santa Fe) were full of life, friends, adventures. Gregory and Joan learned technical rock climbing from Jack and LaDonna Kutz, and they also became parents! Benjamin Edward Pease was born October 24, 1968, and Kirsten Lenore Pease the following year, November 11, 1969. Gregory completed his law degree in 1970. The following year they moved to the foothills near Santa Fe, where Gregory clerked for Judge Oliver Seth of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1971 they moved to Denver, where Gregory clerked in the 10th Circuit headquarters for a year.
Gregory accepted an offer to serve as Assistant Dean of the Ohio Northern University Law School in Ada, Ohio, in 1972. He was also the law review advisor. Ada is a small university town, perfect for raising their two young children.
Another job offer came in 1976 from the Washburn University Law School in Topeka, Kansas, and the family welcomed the chance to move back to Kansas! For over 40 years, the family settled in, living for 17 years in Wabaunsee County, where Joan was a writer and then taught English at Mission Valley High School for ten years, and Gregory commuted into Topeka. They moved to the Lake Jivaro area in Topeka in 1993. His primary teaching responsibilities included Decedents’ Estates, Trusts and Future Interests, Property I, and Law and Literature. He began a phased retirement in 2007 and taught his last classes in the spring of 2013.
He also authored chapter 59 of the 2000 Supplement for Vernon’s Kansas Statutes Annotated, and for many years chaired the law school admissions committee. In all of his time at Washburn, his love of teaching exceeded his enjoyment of other responsibilities. As his friend Professor Bill Rich noted, “those feelings were reflected by opinions of his students, who selected him as the William O. Douglas Professor of the Year six times, a number unmatched by any other member of the Washburn faculty.”
Gregory’s life outside the law school was devoted to his family: his wife Joan, their two children, and four grandchildren. He also enjoyed a sequence of other passions, seemingly linked, as he would point out, to the letter “g”: gardening, grandchildren, golf, guitar, gambling, and guns (hunting with friends and his daughter Kirsten). Other sources of pleasure included opera, folk music, literature, and cooking.
He is survived by his sister Judy, his wife Joan, his two children Benjamin & Kirsten, four grandchildren - Haley, Michael, Emily, and Yelena, and several nephews and nieces. He will be missed by those who knew him well. As Bill Rich said, “His dry wit set him apart in ways that will be hard to match. He asked for little and gave much to all who had the privilege of being his students, his colleagues, and his friends.”
As he wished, Gregory was cremated. Dove Southeast Chapel, 2843 SE Minnesota Ave. is assisting the family. A gathering of friends to celebrate Gregory’s life will be announced next spring, after the new year.
In lieu of flowers, Washburn University School of Law, where Gregory taught for 37 years, is receiving memorial gifts in his honor. Donations/checks may be made to the Washburn University Foundation, with “Gregory Pease Memorial” in the memo, and sent to the Washburn University Foundation, Gregory Pease Memorial, 1729 SW MacVicar Avenue, Topeka, Kansas 66604.
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