David P. Currie, Law School professor and alumnus of the College, died of pneumonia at the U of C Hospitals Monday. He was 71. A four-time recipient of the Law School’s Graduating Students Award for Teaching Excellence, Currie was a demanding yet popular professor, according to a University press release.
Currie’s academic work made significant advances in the fields of constitutional law and history. At the time of his death, he was working on his second series of books dealing with the history of the Constitution. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, Currie carried a copy of the United States Constitution with him at all times, even as his teaching took him across the world. Currie served as a visiting professor at several German universities and also taught law at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.
Currie was well known for the lighter side of his personality; throughout the course of one class, he wore a different hat to each session. A lover of Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, he was known to break into song during class in order to illustrate a tricky legal point.
“When I teach civil procedure and want to explain the difference between criminal and civil cases, I sing ‘A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One’ from Pirates of Penzance,” Currie was quoted as saying in the University of Chicago Chronicle. “The best part is, the students’ part is the chorus—so after I sing to them, they sing back.” As a member of Chicago’s Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, he performed in and directed dozens of productions.
Currie is survived by his wife, Barbara Flynn Currie, majority leader of the Illinois House of Representatives (D-Chicago); two children; and four grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for October 27 at the Law School’s Weymouth Kirkland Auditorium.