Lawrence Humane Society Remembers Bill Westerbeke

Lawrence, KS — September 13th, 2019 — The Lawrence Humane Society is sad to report that William “Bill” Westerbeke passed away on August 28, 2019. Bill was a professor at the Kansas University School of Law for over 40 years, where he taught Torts, Antitrust, Products Liability, Workers Compensation, and First Amendment Freedoms.

He was also the faculty sponsor for the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, beginning in 2009, and was the driving force behind the Animal Cruelty Prosecution Clinic, which was an externship program between the law school and the Lawrence Humane Society to track and move victims of animal cruelty through the legal system as quickly as possible.

“I remember Westerbeke talking me into working the externship program my second and third year in law school,” said Katie Barnett, Animal Welfare Counsel. “To this day, the most important part of my job at the Lawrence Humane Society is ensuring the most vulnerable animals in our care, the victims of animal cruelty, never get lost in the court process.”

Not only did Bill use his legal knowledge to advocate for animals, he served on the Lawrence Humane Society board of directors for ten years, and generously donated his time and resources to benefit the animals of Lawrence for over twenty years!

Bill was also the primary organizer of the annual golf tournament to benefit the Lawrence Humane Society, which raised tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

Both students and colleagues remember Bill always having time to talk about school or animals in his third floor office, where the door was always open. Bill would tell stories about the shenanigans his dogs would get into at the dog park, but more often he would just listen.

“One day, I got a phone call during a class break to tell me the tiny puppy we’d just adopted from the Lawrence Humane Society was very sick and may have to be euthanized,” remembers Crissa Cook. “I sat through the rest of his torts class with silent tears. After class, he took me aside, comforted me, and recommended a veterinarian who might be willing to treat her. Almost 16 years later, that dog is still with us. Westerbeke was not only a great teacher, but also great person.”

While we mourn the loss of a wonderful community advocate, we also celebrate the life of an incredibly accomplished and generous person.

From everyone at the Lawrence Humane Society, William “Bill” Westerbeke will be missed and remembered.

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