Gerard A. Rault Jr. died on March 18 following a long illness, surrounded by his loving family. Gerry was born October 17, 1943 in Washington, D.C. and was a life-long resident of New Orleans. He was predeceased by his parents, Gerard A. Rault and Aline Hill Rault, his sister, Aline Rault Kehlor, and a nephew, Robert Heideman. He is survived by his two children, Gerard C. “Geb” Rault (Fabienne Barras) and Jennifer Rault (Tom Alexander), his sisters Dorothy Rault Heideman and Julie Ann Rault Wegmann (Dick), three nephews, Rault Kehlor (John Millar), Matthew (Lauren) and Andrew (Maia) Wegmann, and his grandchildren, Beckett A. Rault Alexander and Emmett A. Rault Alexander.
He had a somewhat troubled youth, which affected the rest of his life, but which, by design and effort, he largely overcame. Always a showman, he and three friends won their grade school’s Talent Night by dressing in zoot suits and lip-syncing Little Richard songs, and a year later reprised their act and won first place as eighth graders in Jesuit’s competition. Gerry loved being able to boast that they had bested senior Mac Rebbenack (Dr. John) and his band. He was a member of the heralded Jesuit High School Class of 1961, where he was a state champion in oratory and debate. He attended both Loyola University, where he was active in many organizations and began a lifetime commitment to Alpha Delta Gamma social fraternity, and Spring Hill College. He was an honor graduate of the LSU Law School, where he served as an Editor of the Louisiana Law Review, wherein he published a Comment, and was a member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, Phi Kappa Phi, and Omicron Delta Kappa. Upon graduation from law school he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where in bootcamp he was chosen as Series Honorman. He subsequently transferred to the Officer Corp, where he graduated from the Quantico Basic School and practiced military civil and criminal law.
After returning home to New Orleans and practicing briefly at a large firm he embarked on the career that would define his professional legacy. He began teaching law, first at Southern University and then at LSU law school, where he created and was the first director of the LSU Law Clinic. Thereafter he taught law for over thirty-five years at Loyola Law School in New Orleans, where, as a relatively tough grader, he tended to be either enthusiastically appreciated or studiously avoided by students. He created and was the first director of the ABA International Client Counseling Competition (U.S., U.K., and Canada). He also created and was Director of the Loyola Death Penalty Clinic in which he and his students represented indigents charged in death penalty cases or sentenced to death. In all these arguments before Louisiana and federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court, he and his law students never lost a client to the death penalty. He remained a vocal advocate against capital punishment throughout his life. He was qualified in Louisiana courts as an expert in the defense of criminal cases, and on occasions served as an appointed special prosecutor. He was one of the three co-drafters of the Louisiana Code of Evidence, and for over twenty-five years was a coauthor of the annual Handbook on Louisiana Evidence. He also authored Louisiana’s Common Law of Crimes, Louisiana Prosecutors’ Trial Manual, and numerous other legal writings.
In 1997–98 he served as the Distinguished Senior Fulbright Scholar for the People’s Republic of China, and he returned to China as Visiting Professor of Law at Fudan University in Shanghai in 1999–2000. He travelled widely in China, Thailand and neighboring countries and upon his retirement would spend part of many happy years in Thailand. He was a member of the governing boards of the Bridge House, the Grace House, the Louisiana Bar Association, the Council of the Louisiana State Law Institute, the International Association of Teachers of Chinese Law, the Chinese Studies Association of North America and was a volunteer for Big Brothers of Greater New Orleans and the Greenhouse for troubled youth. For over thirty years he was an active member in the International Smith-Wilson Association where he helped many and aided in the creation of several of its outposts in Southeast Asia. He retired from the Loyola faculty in 2007 as the Judge John D. Wessel Distinguished Professor of Law and Social Justice.
He was smart, adventurous, fun-loving, funny, and irreverent. Beneath his customary phlegmatic demeanor lay a heart of great love and compassion. He cared deeply about those he loved and reached out to those in need of support. He did not deny his faults and strove to better them. He was a gentleman. He had a certain ineffable panache. He will be sorely missed by his family, friends, colleagues, students, and by the many who work each day, as he did, to build a life of intention and hope.
His family would like to acknowledge Gerry’s caregivers at St. Anna’s of Lambeth House and Guardian Angel Hospice and the many friends who loved and supported him and his loved ones at the end of his life. A private interment will be held at St. Joseph Cemetery #1 and a memorial and celebration of Gerry’s life will be planned at a future date. As an expression of condolences or in Gerry’s honor his family asks that, in lieu of flowers, you make a donation to Bridge House | Grace House of New Orleans, or to another organization of your choosing that honors your memories of Gerry. Notes and condolences may be left online at schoenfh.com.
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