Etha B. Fox, Class of 1939

Women's pioneer in the legal profession

Etha B. FoxBorn in Chicago in 1914, Etha B. Fox championed the cause of women lawyers in Illinois as few others have done. One of the few female attorneys when she graduated from Chicago-Kent in 1939, she was admitted to practice in the Illinois Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Military Appeals. In 1944, Fox joined the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, serving during World War II and retiring with the rank of captain in 1974. She worked for nine years in the Office of Rent Stabilization in Chicago and spent seventeen years as law clerk to the Honorable Win G. Knoch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She also specialized in international and military law and in 1962, the National Council of Jewish Women and the YWCA recognized her contributions in peace and international understanding.

Throughout her career, Fox was a tireless advocate for women in the legal profession and was once described by fellow honoree, Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, as someone “who should have been a federal judge, who was a career clerk to two federal judges, who mentored and aided and helped us.” Fox was also active in her community, serving as president of the Women’s Bar Foundation and volunteering for more than 20 years with the American Red Cross and for more than 56 years as a volunteer reader for Recording for the Blind. She was a generous donor to the Chicago-Kent building campaign of 1957 to 1959, which doubled the law school’s space on North Franklin Street, and was elected a fellow of the Chicago-Kent Honor Council in 1978. Fox passed away in 2012 at the age of 98 and was buried in her Coast Guard uniform.