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Family, friends and colleagues of H. Roderic Heard gathered to remember and celebrate his life on April 30th at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, where Rod was a partner.

Rod was a BGA board member for more than 20 years. He was remembered by friends and colleagues as a true gentleman, an honorable attorney and a beloved and trusted friend.

Speakers at the memorial included Rod's wife, Sue Walker, Mark Rust and Brian Lewis of Barnes & Thornburg, Rod's long-time assistant Sue Cicero, Northwestern University School of Law colleague Steven Lubet, BGA board member Eric Berlin and BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw. Sue Walker said Rod lived a wonderful life, and Rod got his "happily ever after." Read more about Rod's remarkable life below.


March 5, 2013

The Better Government Association mourns the passing of H. Roderic Heard, BGA board chairman and longtime board member, who was also a partner in the Chicago office of law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

The BGA offers condolences to his wife, Susan Walker, and family.

The BGA’s board of directors recently elected Rod to serve another two-year term as board chairman, following a previous two-year stint in that office. As board chair, Rod played a pivotal role in BGA’s recent revitalization and its transition to a bigger and stronger government watchdog organization. (Read a profile of Rod in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.)

Rod’s involvement in the BGA precedes his most recent stint as board chair, having been on the organization’s board of directors for 20 years.

"Rod was a true gentleman and a great leader," said Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the BGA. "His insight and intelligence were exceeded only by his integrity and desire to fulfill the BGA’s mission to make government more open, honest and fair. He was a pleasure to work and spend time with, often taking our staff out for dinners, or offering encouragement in emails, just to show how much he appreciated their efforts."

In a statement, the BGA board said: "Rod was a strong leader and a committed reformer. He embodied the BGA’s quest for openness and honest government. He will be greatly missed."

As a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Rod practiced in the firm's litigation department and concentrated his practice on commercial, intellectual property, and environmental litigation.

His practice experience included more than 30 complex business cases that he tried to judgment in courts throughout the United States and in Guam. Rod also represented major national and multinational companies on matters of class actions, injunctions, and appellate proceedings.

Rod earned his B.S. in 1968 and his M.S. in 1969, both from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He earned his J.D. from the College of William and Mary in 1973.

He continued to serve his alma mater, Northwestern University, as an adjunct professor teaching dispute resolution and trial advocacy, and on the Kellogg School of Management, Dispute Resolution Advisory Board.

Rod was an adjunct professor at DePaul University Law School for 17 years, teaching dispute resolution, commercial arbitration, and international arbitration. At Loyola University's School of Law, Rod was an adjunct professor and taught international business transactions.

Rod was admitted to practice in Illinois; before the U.S. Claims Court; before the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Second, Sixth, Seventh, and Federal Circuits; and before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where he was a Trial Bar member.

In a recent interview with Around the Water Cooler, a Chicago Lawyer blog, Rod said it was seeing the movie, "To Kill a Mockingbird", that stirred him to practice law. 

"Then came Atticus Finch, who was a lawyer’s role model for standing up for justice in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’" Rod said. "Gregory Peck won an Academy Award for his movie portrayal of the brave lawyer who defied small town prejudice to defend a worthy cause…

"I was inspired," Rod added.

Click here to make a donation in memory of Rod.


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In Memoriam: H. Roderic Heard

Remembering H. Roderic Heard
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