In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus James Quarles

Published: February 23rd, 2004

Category: News

Levin College of Law Professor Emeritus (1969-96) James C. Quarles passed away Saturday, Feb. 14, at the age of 82.

“His was a well-lived life,” said Professor Joseph Little. “He was a consummate southern gentleman, with all the attendant virtues: courteous, soft-spoken, moderate in word and deed, generous, serious when required, piquantly humorous when appropriate, unerringly true to his word, and unfaltering in shouldering more than his share of any burden.”

Professor Emeritus Mandell Glicksberg, a friend and colleague of Quarles for close to 35 years, concurred with Professor Little’s assessment, and added, “Jim was well-liked and highly respected by his students and his colleagues. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was a good friend, and will be greatly missed.”

Quarles was preceded in death by his wife, Prudence Quarles, and leaves behind his sons, UF law graduates James Peyton Quarles (UF JD 75) of South Daytona Beach and Christopher Sinclair Quarles (UF JD 79) of Ormond Beach, a daughter, Rebecca Q. McLeod of Tallahassee, his former wife, Audrey Clark of Gainesville, and two grandchildren and two stepgrandchildren.

“I am very proud of my father’s legacy. He taught literally thousands of law students over a career that spanned more than 50 years,” said Chris Quarles. “In my work as an assistant public defender doing capital appeals, I talk to many lawyers around the state. Almost weekly, I encounter lawyers who were taught by my father. Many comment on his dry wit and tough grading policy.”

Quarles’ chief love was teaching. While at Mercer and UF, he taught almost every course offered in a traditional law curriculum, concentrating at UF on his favorites, United States Constitutional Law and Criminal Law.

“I cannot imagine my father being anything but a law professor,” said James Peyton Quarles. “I was surprised recently when he told me that he had no idea he would become a law professor. Being a law professor was so much a part of him, I had assumed that he always planned to teach. It was very fortunate for my father and his future students that his initial teaching opportunity presented itself. He loved teaching and the law school atmosphere. His influence was such that he even convinced both of his sons to become lawyers! We will all miss him.”

“Several prominent lawyers have told me that my father’s class changed their lives,” said Chris Quarles. “Initially disillusioned with law school, they chose to finish after enrolling in my father’s criminal or constitutional law class. They fell in love with the subject and credit my father with the fact that they stayed in school. I am extremely proud of my father. He also was a wonderful parent and provider. His legacy will live on for decades.”

Quarles was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, and graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was senior editor of the Virginia Law Review and member of the Order of the Coif. He clerked for Judge Parker of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, then worked for the Michie Law Publishing Company.

In 1947, he began teaching law at Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he co-founded the Mercer Law Review and served as law school dean (1956-69). He was recruited from Mercer in 1969 to become executive director of the now defunct Florida Law Revision Commission, then housed at the UF College of Law. He was appointed professor of law shortly thereafter, and soon earned a reputation for active service on numerous law school committees. He chaired the faculty dean search committee that produced Joseph R. (Dick) Julin as dean, and over the next 30 years led numerous governing committees in the college, university and community

“Year after year he did more committee work than anyone else, and semester after semester he taught more students than any other faculty member,” said Little. “This is not merely to acknowledge that Jim always earned his pay. It also acknowledges a huge institutional debt. Jim’s capacity and willingness to do more than his share freed others to pursue interests which often were much less connected to the institution and its students.”

“He was a wonderful colleague and an exquisitely sensitive human being,” said Professor Winston Nagan. “He had a wry sense of humor, touched with great gentility. He will be missed.”