Thanassi Yiannopoulos: Reminiscences of a Life Well
Katherine Shaw Spaht
Although I was never fortunate enough to have had Thanassi as a
classroom teacher, this does not mean that he never taught me. He taught
me a great deal in the many discussions we had in Louisiana State Law
Institute (“Law Institute” or “LSLI”) committees, in faculty meetings
during the years he was my colleague at LSU, and in the summer of 1995
when I taught in his Tulane program abroad on the tiny Greek island of
Spetses. But above all, he taught me to embrace life fully. His was a
personality almost impossible to resist. His exuberance for life drew the
attention of all present the minute he walked into a room. His gusty
laughter announced his entrance. He lived life to the fullest and with a joy
that was infectious.
He shepherded the first major revision of the Louisiana Civil Code in
modern times, not only through the, at times, tedious process of the
Louisiana State Law Institute, but also through the Legislature. The year:
1976. But Thanassi also chaired many other Law Institute committees after
he finished the revision of the law of property, beginning with an ad hoc
committee to review the Legislature’s revision of community property law
in 1978. That was my first experience in evaluating his draft provisions,
in this instance on behalf of the legislative subcommittee on which I served
as chairman of its advisory committee. I was responsible for informing the
members of the legislative subcommittee whether his draft departed from
the policy decisions made in the 1978 legislation. It was quite an experience.
We each argued particular policy points to the subcommittee, and its
members ultimately made the decision about the content of the legislation.
I gained a tremendous respect for Thanassi’s intellectual ability by virtue of
that experience. That respect was amplified by serving with him on other
Law Institute committees, many of which he chaired—the General
Principles of the Civil Code Committee beginning with Article 1, for
example. Although he was not the chairman, I served with him on the
Conflict of Laws committee, which added conflict provisions to our Civil
Code in Book IV for the first time, as well as the Lease Committee. To
participate in those committees with the caliber of people appointed to serve
Copyright 2018, by KATHERINE SHAW SPAHT.
* Jules F. and Frances L. Landry Professor of Law Emeritus, Paul M.
Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University.