Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne

Branco, Jessica

Bennett, John

Crowley, Zachary


Meserve, Robert W., 1909-95


Robert W. Meserve (1909-95), A1931, a past president of the American Bar Association and prominent trial lawyer, was the former chairman of the Board of Trustees of Tufts College and recipient of the Hosea Ballou Medal.

The son of a motorman on the Boston Elevated Railroad Company, Meserve was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1909. His family later moved to Medford, where he attended Medford High School. He then attended Tufts, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, in 1931. As an undergraduate, Meserve was a member of the Ivy and Tower Cross honor societies, secretary of the student council, and president of both Sigma Tau Alpha fraternity and the inter-fraternity council. Meserve continued his studies at Harvard Law School, obtaining his law degree in 1934.While there, he was editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Meserve initially joined the Boston law firm, Nutter, McClennan & Fish, but left to become an assistant U.S attorney. In that office, Meserve tried several antitrust cases from the motion picture industry. From 1937-40, he was a lecturer at Harvard Law School. He also lectured at Boston College Law School from 1956-61.

Meserve returned briefly to Nutter, McClennan, & Fish before enlisting as an officer in the Naval Reserve in 1941.He spent three years serving aboard the USS Langley, and received seven battle stars for action in the Pacific. In 1945, Meserve was discharged from the Navy and returned to the law firm, where he gained national recognition as one of his generation's top trial lawyers.

In 1973, he formed the firm of Newman & Meserve, practicing there until 1978, when he joined Palmer & Dodge, another law firm. He retired from that firm in 1984, but returned, after working two years in the US Attorney's office, in 1986.

Meserve was president of the American Bar Association from 1972-3, making him the first Boston lawyer to hold the office in the twentieth century. He chaired the ABA's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary from 1963-65, during which time he helped screen judicial nominees proposed by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Meserve also served as president of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Boston Bar Association. He also worked on federal committees, including the Advisory Committee and the Federal Criminal Rules, the Federal Civil Rules, and was also a member of the Devitt Commission on Admissions to the Federal Bar.

Locally, he was member of the Medford City Council and the Medford School Committee.

He was the recipient of several awards associated with the legal profession, including the ABA's Whitney North Seymour Award, the ABA's Gold Medal Award, and the American Trial Lawyers' Courageous Advocacy Award.

He continued his involvement with Tufts after graduation by serving on the Alumni Council, chairing the group in 1954.In 1955, he was elected an alumni trustee, and also chaired the Tufts Alumni Fund Drive. Meserve was made a life trustee in 1959.During the 1960s, he served as president of the Tufts Alumni Association, Vice-President of the Tufts-New England Medical Center, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Tufts College. Meserve was presented the Hosea Ballou Medal in 1973.

Meserve died at the New England Medical Center on September 21, 1995.He was married to the former Gladys Swenson, with whom he had five children.

Source: VF, BH, NYT

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  • The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.
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Numeric Entries
Dame, Lorin Low, 1838-1903
Dana, Charles A., 1881-1975
Dana Laboratory, 1963
Daniel Ounjian Prize in Economics,
Davies, Caroline Stodder, 1864-1939
Davies House, 1894
De Florez Prize in Human Engineering, 1964
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Dean Hall, 1887-1963
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
Dearborn, Heman Allen, 1831-1897
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, 1893
Department of Anesthesia, 1970
Department of Art and Art History, 1930
Department of Biochemistry, 1893
Department of Chemistry, 1882
Department of Community Health, 1930
Department of Dermatology, 1897
The Department of Economics, 1946
Department of Medicine, 1893
Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Department of Neurology, 1893
Department of Neuroscience, 1983
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
Department of Ophthamology, 1893
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 1906
Department of Otolaryngology, 1895
Department of Pathology, 1893
Department of Pediatrics, 1930
Department of Pharmacology, 1915
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1854
Department of Physiology, 1893
Department of Psychiatry, 1928
Department of Radiation Oncology, 1968
Department of Radiology, 1915
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
Department of Surgery, 1893
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 1973
Department of Urology, 1910
Dental Health Sciences Building, 1969
Dewick, Cora Alma (Polk), 1875-1977
Dewick/MacPhie Dining Hall, 1959
Dickson Professorship of English and American History, 1913
Dirlam, Arland A., 1905-1979
Dog Cart, 1900
Dolbear, Amos Emerson, 1837-1910
Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
The Drug Bust, 1970
Dudley, Henry Watson, 1831-1906
Dugger, Edward Jr., 1919-75
Durkee, Frank W., 1861-1939
Durkee, Henrietta Noble Brown, 1871-1946
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