Yale University

In Memoriam

George J. Wallace

George Wallace
1964 graduation

George Wallace was remembered at a Memorial Service in Battell Chapel on June 5, 2009 during our 45th reunion. Below are:

Memorial Service reading

by Robert Musil, '64

I did not see George sick from lymphoma before he died last year. And so I am fortunate that I remember him as I always did. In fact, George was a guy who was unforgettable. He looked the same from the moment I met him. He was the tenor in the Freshman Glee Club with the red hair, the incredibly fair Anglo
complexion, the unfortunate coincidence of the segregationist Governor's name, and the wonderful, mordant wit. I last saw him, marvelously still the same, singing with us as he did whenever there was a Glee Club alumni concert in DC. George came to some of our classmate breakfasts in DC, too, where he enjoyed having all those lawyers around and a couple of us old singing buddies. He was passionate about many things in life, but I really only knew about two — his zeal to reform bankruptcy law and his love of singing.

George wasn't an extrovert like some of us and his humor was perhaps closest to Jack Benny with the droll look, the slow double take, and the deceptively simple delivery that caught you off guard like a slider or a sinkerball. I wish I had gotten to know George better. But we were Washington guys and on the go. As with too many classmates whom I liked and admired, I assumed there would always be another time to catch up more. Another breakfast, a concert, a reunion. Then lymphoma came calling and an eternally youthful friend was with us no more. And so I carry George only in my mind's eye, always the same, always serious until the sly smile and the sweet song of a tenor. George would have loved it that the Whiffenpoofs are here to help us remember. If you think you hear a mysterious extra tenor or some strangely added line about bankruptcy reform, that would be George — chiming in from somewhere up above... with perfect pitch and perfect timing.



Lawyer George J. Wallace; Helped Bring Changes in Bankruptcy Laws

Washington Post
March 3, 2008

George John Wallace, 65, a consumer credit lawyer who pushed to retool bankruptcy laws for two decades, died of lymphoma Feb. 20 at his second home in Belfast, Maine. He also lived in Alexandria.

For 15 years before becoming a practicing lawyer, Mr. Wallace wrote articles about consumer issues and taught at several universities. From 1983 to 2002, he specialized in bankruptcy, housing and credit issues.

From 1997 through 2005, Mr. Wallace also served as counsel to the Coalition for Responsible Bankruptcy Laws, a lobbying group of banking and credit institutions that successfully sought bankruptcy reform. Their efforts culminated in the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

Mr. Wallace testified repeatedly before Congress. In 2003, on behalf of the coalition, he voiced support for the act during a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee hearing. He told committee members that more than 1.5 million consumer debtors had filed for bankruptcy, which represented more than six times the rate of filing in 1978, when the last major revision to bankruptcy laws was made.

"The laws are fundamentally flawed, and the need for reform is urgent," he said.

"Our economy can ill afford a situation in which bill-paying American consumers and debtors who deserve bankruptcy relief pay higher prices because others have run up large debts and then use bankruptcy irresponsibly and often dishonestly."

Mr. Wallace was born in Omaha and grew up in Detroit, where his father was an English professor at Wayne State University. He graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1964 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1967, where he was on the law review.

He began his legal career as a professor. He taught law at Tulane, Stanford and Rutgers universities as well as the universities of Virginia and Iowa.

While in Iowa from 1968 to 1978, he started a legal aid clinic and was a principal draftsman of the Iowa Consumer Credit Code.

He practiced law full time in New Jersey before moving to Washington in 1989. He was general counsel with Travelers Mortgage Services and later with the firm of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott. After retiring in 2002, he returned to academic writing and research.

He also founded the Center for Statistical Research, a consulting firm that specializes in collecting and analyzing data on consumer credit, housing and wealth redistribution.

Mr. Wallace, who lived half of the year in Belfast, enjoyed exploring the Maine seacoast with his wife in their sailboat. He also spent time woodworking, gardening and hiking.

His marriages to Patricia Boyle Wallace and Anne Geary Wallace ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Gianne Conrad of Belfast and Alexandria; two children from his first marriage, Matthew Wallace of Wassaic, N.Y., and Christopher Wallace of San Francisco; two children from his second marriage, Claire Wallace of Boston and Suzanne Wallace of Madison, Wis.; and two sisters, Sylvia Holton Peterson of Washington and Zara Wallace of Berkeley, Calif.