Chet Gerdts ’78, member of Vanderbilt Law’s Board of Advisors, dies at 58

Charles William (“Chet”) Gerdts III, Class of 1978, died peacefully February 16 in New York City.

Gerdts was a member of the law school’s Board of Advisors and had served as the U.S.-based general counsel of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) since 2002.

Before becoming head of PwC’s U.S. corporate legal staff, Gerdts was a partner at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he served as the managing partner of the firm’s litigation department and on its executive committee. He began his legal career in 1978 at Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine in Manhattan, where he became a partner in 1986.

He was featured in an article focusing on Vanderbilt Law alumni serving as general counsels in the fall 2011 Vanderbilt Lawyer.

Gerdts was a member of the New York City Bar Association’s 2006 Task Force on the Lawyer’s Role in Corporate Governance, served on the ABA’s Presidential Task Force on the Attorney-Client Privilege, and was a member of the board of directors for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law.

“Chet was a devoted Vanderbilt Law School graduate, an accomplished lawyer and corporate leader, and the kind of person who embodied the values we hold dear at the law school,” said Chris Guthrie, dean of Vanderbilt Law School.

Gerdts earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, where he joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and was a member of the Michigama honor society.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Elizabeth Hume Gerdts, whom he met while both were students at the University of Michigan; their children, Emily Eaton Gerdts and Charles W. Gerdts IV; and a large extended family. His life will be celebrated at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, 2012, at the Noroton Presbyterian Church, 2011 Post Road, Darien, Connecticut.

“Chet was a loyal friend and was driven by a belief that everyone should strive to reach their greatest potential,” stated his obituary. “He combined this drive with a sharp intellect, a keen sense of humor, kindness and a deep love for his family.”


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