Rita Ennella Fordham died at home on December 5, 2013. Rita was hired in 1957 as the administrative assistant to Daniel Dykstra, Dean of the College of Law at the University of Utah. She managed the Dean’s office, maintained the law school’s records, and supported a demanding faculty. In the summer of 1963 she met Jefferson B. Fordham when he was a visiting Professor of Law at the University of Utah. Rita and Jeff were married on March 21, 1964 and they lived in Philadelphia while Jeff was Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In 1970 Rita and Jeff returned to Salt Lake City where Jeff began his 19-year tenure as Distinguished University Professor of Law at the University of Utah.
Rita and Jeff endowed the annual Fordham Debate at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law and the College’s Fordham Loan Forgiveness Program to help law school graduates employed in the public sector to repay their school loans. Rita also was a proud member of the University Women’s Club.
At her request, Rita’s body was cremated and her ashes were interred with those of her husband. A requiem mass will be held at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, at 10:00 am at which time children from the Cathedral Choir School will sing. In lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, referenced for the Jefferson B. and Rita E. Fordham Loan Forgiveness Fund or the Fordham Debate Fund, 383 South University Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0730. A celebration of Rita’s life will be held at the law school and in Queens, New York, in the spring.