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The Passing of Professor Don Castleman

Wake Forest University has announced that Professor Don Castleman died unexpectedly in Winston-Salem over the weekend.

“We grieve Professor Castleman’s death and extend our condolences to his family and friends, as well as those at Wake Forest who had the opportunity to know him,” the announcement stated.

Interim Dean Suzanne Reynolds said, “For a number of us, it is hard to imagine Wake Forest law school without Don Castleman.  He loved teaching Decedents Estates and Trusts and all things tax.  He loved the practice of law and brought it effectively into his classrooms.  He loved playing golf with 3Ls during the 3L picnic. And he was as proud of Tommie (his wife) and his four children as any human could be.”

A graduate of the University of Tennessee law school, Professor Castleman was a veteran and previously taught at Drake University. He practiced law at a firm in Memphis and later as in-house counsel with a large medical construction client. He has visited at the University of Richmond; Jannus Pannonius University in Pecs, Hungary; and at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in Russia.

Don Castleman has been a constant part of the SEALS community for over 30 years.  He was the much-beloved czar of our annual golf tournament, lending his always-wry humor to the awards ceremony at the Gala dinner.  As SEALS past-President Vince Cardi remarked on hearing of Don’s passing, “It seemed like Don would always be with us.”  He will be missed.

Please feel free to add your remembrances using the comments area below.




  1. Russell L Weaver

    In all the years that I have attended SEALS meeting, Don was a constant and stabilizing presence. I can’t imagine going to SEALS meetings and not seeing him.

  2. David Marcello

    Just the thought of Don always brings a smile to my face, now accompanied by the sadness at his passing. A smile was his default mode of existence, and he elicited that same response in others. I had the great good fortune to enjoy his company, on and off the golf course, not only at SEALS but also in New Orleans and its environs, when he accompanied Wake’s Moot Court Team each year to the Mardi Gras Sports Law competition. Sports, law, competition, Mardi Gras–a few of his favorite things all rolled into one!
    “Team” was a mighty important part of his life as well. He belonged to a lot of communities and contributed his full support to them, as any good team member would. His military service was a special source of pride in his life, I believe, and he took great pride in seeing it continued within his family.
    Don’s friendships endured. He talked about and stayed in touch with friends from his visits abroad for years afterwards, and he had endlessly more room for all of us within that ever-expanding circle of warmth. He also always had a new joke to share when we saw him again–and all of them funny, none of them lame!
    Now it’s the memories that endure, and they are as warm as the man himself–gone too soon, but vividly remembered. I will miss Don, and my heart goes out to Tommie and the family, who will endure this huge absence in their lives. Please know that others of us in jurisdictions far and wide share your sense of loss, and we hope that the multitude of memories he left in his wake will buoy you up and bring solace to you all.
    On his last visit to New Orleans, we sat outside on a moderate Mardi Gras night at a burger joint in the CBD, a block off of St. Charles Avenue, far enough away to mute the revelry of a passing parade, and we talked. Among so many other memories of Don, I’ll treasure that quiet moment. He was a most rewarding companion, and I will miss his presence in the world. Godspeed, Don Castleman.

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