Judge Collins J. Seitz, who was believed to be the first jurist in the United States to order an all-white school to integrate, died Oct. 16. He was 84.
Sitting on the Delaware Court of Chancery in 1952, Judge Seitz ruled in favor of black students seeking admission to legally segregated white schools because their all-black schools were inferior. He condemned the "separate but equal" doctrine, while acknowledging that he lacked the power to overturn it. His decision was affirmed by the state supreme court.
The case, later argued before the U.S. Supreme Court as Gebhart v. Belton, was among those consolidated as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Those cases resulted in the landmark 1954 decision that struck down school segregation.
The Delaware plaintiffs' lawyer, Louis L. Redding of Wilmington, Del., died Sept. 27. Judge Seitz and Mr. Redding are among four leading figures in the Brown cluster of cases who have died since mid-September. ("Deaths of Pivotal Figures in Brown Mark Passing of Desegregation Era," Oct. 21, 1998.)
A Wilmington native and resident, Judge Seitz began his judicial career on the chancery bench in 1946. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia. He was elevated to chief judge in 1971 and went into semiretirementin 1989.
Samuel Messick, a leading researcher in educational assessment, died Oct. 6. He was 67.
Mr. Messick worked for the Educational Testing Service for 41 years before retiring last year. For the final 20 years of his career, he was a distinguished research scientist for the Princeton, N.J., nonprofit organization that administers the SAT and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. He received the organization's award for lifetime achievement last year.
He was considered an expert in the fields of educational measurement, test validity, and test interpretation. His research was instrumental in shaping the SAT over the past 40 years. He served on several boards and committees for the American Psychological Association and the Psychometric Society.
Mr. Messick also was a member of the research team that advised the Children's Television Workshop when it created "Sesame Street" in the late 1960s.
--David J. Hoff
Vol. 18, Issue 9, Page 4