Former FSU, American Bar Association President Sandy D'Alemberte Dies at 85

What to Know

  • He served as the ABA President from 1991 to 1992 and later took over as the leader at FSU, serving from 1994 to 2003.

Sandy D’Alemberte, who spent years serving as the president of both the American Bar Association and Florida State University, died suddenly Monday evening.

D’Alemberte was returning to his Tallahassee home before collapsing at a rest area and was pronounced dead shortly after. He was 85 years old.

"Florida mourns the loss of Sandy D'Alemberte who leaves a lasting legacy in our state," Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted.

D'Alemberte, a Tallahassee native, served in the U.S. Navy Reserve and graduated from the University of Florida's law school before being elected to the state House of Representatives, representing Miami-Dade County from 1966 to 1972.

He was president of the American Bar Association in the early 1990s, but his impact in Florida legal circles predated that tenure.

In the mid-1970s, D'Alemberte led a successful effort to petition the Florida Supreme Court to allow television coverage of trials, a first in the nation. In 1990, he led another effort to get the state's highest court to clarify that all members of the Florida Bar have a duty to provide legal services to indigents when ordered by a court in what became known as the "D'Alemberte Petition."

D'Alemberte led FSU for almost a decade starting in 1994 after serving as dean of the law school in the 1980s. During his tenure, the university added a medical school and became headquarters of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, the largest and highest-powered facility of its type in the world.

D'Alemberte completed the university's first major capital campaign and helped the university acquire the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. He also established FSU's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, whose lawyers, staff and students have helped victims of trafficking and war crimes around the world.

“He's been a friend, a mentor and an inspiration to me,” current FSU President John Thrasher said in a statement. “He was a person of great integrity with an abiding sense of social justice who made a difference in people's lives here and around the world through his defense of the First Amendment and advocacy of human rights.”

D’Alemberte is survived by his wife, Patsy Palmer, and his two adult children.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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