Stephen L. Wasby of Eastham, who had a long career as a teacher and scholar of the law, died on Aug. 2, 2021. A professor emeritus of political science at the University of Albany-SUNY, he was 84.
Steve was born in Boston on March 16, 1937, the son of Milton Charles and Pauline Bunshaft Wasby; he grew up in Belmont and received his B.A. from Antioch College, from which his father had also graduated. He received his M.A. in 1961 and Ph.D. in 1962 in political science from the University of Oregon.
The law was the focus of his professional life, during which he held a Russell Sage Post-Doctoral Residency in Law and Social Science at the University of Wisconsin Law School; taught and wrote about the legal process; and served as the director of the Law and Social Sciences Program at the National Science Foundation in 1978-1979.
He began his teaching career at Southeast Missouri State College and Moorhead (Minn.) State College. After serving as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow, he taught at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In his 20 years at the University of Albany, from which he retired in 1999, he served as prelaw adviser.
Steve served as a Secretary of the Navy Fellow at the U.S. Naval Academy, and he taught Canadian students about American courts as visiting professor of law at the University of Victoria (B.C.) and as Bissell-Fulbright Professor of Canadian American Relations at University of Toronto. After he moved to Cape Cod, for several years he was a visiting scholar at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
Steve wrote many articles in professional journals and law reviews and was author, co-author, or editor of more than a dozen books, including The Supreme Court in the Federal Judicial System and Race Relations Litigation in an Age of Complexity. His last book, published in April 2018, was Borrowed Judges: Visitors in the U.S. Courts of Appeals. He was both sad and glad to have been able to edit for publication, after their deaths, books by his Skidmore College colleague Ronald Fiscus, his graduate school friend Charles Sheldon, and his Vanderbilt Law School colleague Robert Belton.
With a mission to help people understand how the courts function, he devoted his greatest attention to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was proud that lawyer friends felt he had contributed more through his writing than he would have as a lawyer.
Steve was proud of having advocated for civil liberties; for helping train police and teaching prospective Navy officers; and, particularly, for serving as a mentor to junior faculty and advanced graduate students.
Steve was the 1973 program chair of the Midwest Political Science Association and served on its council and was president of the New York State Political Science Association. He was on the editorial boards of several journals, and for over 35 years was involved in the Justice System Journal, where he served as its first review editor and as its editor-in-chief from 2005 to 2007.
In Eastham, he served on and chaired the zoning board of appeals, was a member of the charter review committee, and chaired a task force on animal regulations.
Steve was a lover of baroque music and of the seacoast and was a walker of beaches, particularly in his favorite places: Cape Cod and the Oregon coast. Another pastime was watching trains; his New York license plate was TRNWTCHR. Combining pleasure with experience, he served on and directed the Heritage Grants Committee of the National Railway Historical Society.
He is survived by his brother Roger and wife Sherry Herrera, of Fullerton, Calif.; son David and wife Murielle of Nashville, Tenn.; their children, Lauren, Ben, and Danny; and three great-grandchildren; daughter Rev. Karen Johnston; son Robert Johnston; and a special granddaughter, Hannah Daly of Silverton, Ore. His is also survived by multiple cats and by the many dog friends for whom he carried treats.
Contributions in his memory may go to the Wasby-Johnson Award Program at the Dept. of Sociology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore.