Ralph Lancaster

In Memoriam: Ralph Lancaster

The Society extends its sincere condolences to Mary Lou Lancaster and the whole of the Lancaster family on the passing of Ralph I. Lancaster, Jr. on Tuesday, January 22nd.

Ralph was a highly distinguished lawyer with the firm of Pierce Atwood, who served as President of the Society from 2008 to 2011, ably guiding it through the depths of the financial crisis. He served as President of the Society from 2008 to 2011. After a short stint as President Emeritus, he was recalled to serve as Chairman in 2013, and was subsequently elected Chairman Emeritus in 2018.

Prior to becoming President, Ralph served as one of the most successful Membership Chairs in the Society’s history. He also led the Society’s successful campaign to securing the minting of a John Marshall Commemorative Coin—which added $2.6 million to the Society’s endowment.

Upon becoming President, Ralph steered the Society through one of the most severe economic downturns in the Nation’s history, maintaining its programs and publications, and avoiding staff layoffs which were so unfortunately common during the Great Recession. Despite the financial pressures, he worked diligently to find the resources to build a new Gift Shop in the Supreme Court building that is in keeping with the rich architectural detail of that historic landmark.

In addition to his service to the Society, Ralph made substantial contributions to the legal community as a whole throughout his career, as President of the American College of Trial Lawyers, President of Maine State Bar Association, and Chairman of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. He also served as Independent Counsel by appointment of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, and an unprecedented four times as Special Master for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ralph’s loss will be deeply felt by the Society, the Supreme Court, and the Nation.