Former VLS Dean C. Dent Bostick dead at 91

Jan 16, 2023

Charles Dent Bostick, who served on the faculty of Vanderbilt Law School from 1968 to 1992 and as the Law School’s dean from 1980 to 1985, died Jan. 12 after a long illness. He was 91.

C. Dent Bostick

A native of Gainesville, Georgia, Dean Bostick earned his undergraduate and law degrees at Mercer University and practiced law for eight years in Gainesville before entering the legal academy. He joined the law faculty at the University of Florida in 1966 as an assistant professor of law and taught there for two years before joining Vanderbilt’s law faculty in 1968 as an associate professor of law.

Read Dean Bostick’s obituary in The Tennessean.

Dean Bostick was faculty adviser to Vanderbilt’s national Moot Court team from 1968 to 1975. He was named professor of law in 1971. His teaching and scholarship focused on property law and future interests.

Bostick served as the Law School’s associate dean and director of admissions from 1975 to 1979. He was named its Acting Dean in 1979 and received the permanent appointment as Dean in 1980, serving in that role until 1985. He was a visiting professor of law at the University of Leeds in England during the 1985-86 academic year. He retired from Vanderbilt’s law faculty in 1992.

“I met with Dent shortly after I became Vanderbilt’s Dean and tried to absorb as much knowledge from him as I could. I am honored to follow in his footsteps,” said Dean Chris Guthrie.

As Vanderbilt Law Dean, Bostick led a significant expansion of the original Law School building. He hosted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who spoke at the dedication of the Alyne Queener Massey Law Library in 1984, and the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who dined at his Nashville home. While at the University of Leeds, he was presented to the Duchess of Kent, Katharine Worsley, wife of the late Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, Prince Edward Windsor.

Before beginning his legal career, Dean Bostick was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1955, serving in Europe and the Mediterranean, which fueled a lifelong passion for history and culture. “His exacting memory of dates, personalities and events, especially from the rich history of his beloved England, was phenomenal,” said his son, Alan Dent Bostick.

Dean Bostick was distinguished by his Savile Row style of dress, his old-style manners, his sharp-edged wit and countless anecdotes that his former students, colleagues and friends will remember. One of his favorite stories involved a Georgia prosecutor who was arguing a case before a jury when someone in a car parked just outside the courtroom window began honking his horn. The prosecutor leaned out the window and asked the driver to stop, and he refused. The prosecutor then climbed out the window, beat the man up, climbed back into the courtroom through the same window, concluded his argument, and then dutifully went downstairs in the courthouse to swear out a warrant for his own arrest for assault and battery.

Dean Bostick was preceded in death by his sister, Sara Bostick Rew. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Susan Oliver Bostick; daughter Susan Bostick Fassnacht (Jo); son Alan Dent Bostick (Katherine); and grandchildren Cabell Fassnacht, of Washington, D.C.; Will Fassnacht (Katelynn), of Adairsville, Georgia; and Camille Bostick, Kate Bostick and Rawson Bostick, all of Nashville.

A private family service will be held for Dean Bostick at St George’s Episcopal Church, where he was a longtime member.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the Bostick Dean’s Award for Extraordinary Staff Service at Vanderbilt University Law School, which was endowed by Dean Bostick; St. George’s Episcopal Church; Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law; or Second Harvest Food Bank.

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