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March 26, 2021 Columns

William J. Luddy, Jr. Memorial Tribute

By Richard L. Field

I was on a trans-Atlantic flight with long-time ABA Science & Technology Section member Bill Luddy some 20 years ago, the first flight of any kind Bill had taken in at least another 20 years. He had made sure to be on the same flight as I. Bill was an avid sailor but had a fear of flying. (For ABA meetings, Bill said he always managed to find a train!) Glancing across the aisles as the plane took off, I saw him already deep in conversation with the young lady seated next to him.

The occasion of the flight was a meeting of the E-Commerce Working Group of the U.N. Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), in Vienna. Bill and I were serving on the U.S. delegation. Bill took on some extra volunteer tasks of reviewing paperless trade questions sent in from the World Customs Organization.

Flashing forward, Bill had become a recognized expert on paperless trade and a global frequent flier. He was especially in demand on the subject of the “single window,” the global initiative by Customs agencies to move to electronic customs documents submitted through a single computer screen, and on global supply chains. Many trips ensued to Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America as legal advisor, consultant, and participant with a number of United Nations Intergovernmental Organizations and governments, including the WCO, UNCITRAL, UNECE, UESCAP, UN/CEFACT, APEC, OAS, ASEAN and EurAsE, and the U.S. State Department.

Bill passed away, unexpectedly but peacefully, on February 12, 2021, at age 74, due to complications from surgery. The Section offers its condolences to his wife Grace and to children Kevin and Emily and their families.

A professor of management in the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) for 34 years and former dean of the Graduate School of Management at Rensselaer’s Hartford campus, Bill mentored thousands of students, including past Section chair Lucy Thomson, an RPI graduate. Lucy observed that “Bill was in the forefront of technology issues and made a unique contribution to SciTech in identifying cutting-edge challenges to address.”

Bill’s many SciTech positions included Section Council, chair of the Computer Law and the E-Commerce & IT Divisions, chair of the International and Domestic Policy Coordinating Committee, member of the Book Publishing Board, the American Association for the Advancement of Science National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, and liaison to the ABA International Law Section.

On SciTech’s recommendation, Bill was appointed to the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law.

His Jesuit training contributed to his demeanor as a calm, thoughtful diplomat, with an outstanding ability to bring people together. He was a humble person who respected the dignity of each person and was respected, trusted, and loved in return by colleagues, friends, and family alike. Luca Castellano of the UNCITRAL Secretariat called him “a good friend who has contributed significantly to advance the understanding of paperless trade law. And always a gentleman.” Professor Henry Gabriel of Elon University recalled Bill as a wonderful person who always remembered his birthday.

Bill’s son Kevin and daughter-in-law Royah gave birth to their third child on February 13. They named him William.

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By Richard L. Field