First African American chair of ABA labor section dies on his birthday

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Bernard Ashe headshot

Bernard Ashe was a member of the ABA Journal Board of Editors. He was born March 8, 1936. Photo courtesy of Walter Ashe.

Bernard Ashe, a labor lawyer and former member of the ABA Journal Board of Editors, died March 8 on his 87th birthday. Ashe was active in the ABA. He served on the ABA Board of Governors, the ABA House of Delegates and was chair of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, according to an online obituary.

Ashe became the first African American chair of the labor and employment section when he took over the post in 1982.

In 2017, he received the Arvid Anderson Public Employment Lawyer of the Ye ar Award from the section. The award recognizes attorneys who contributed to the development of public sector labor law.

Ashe began his career as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board in 1961, according to an online bio by Marquis Who’s Who.

He went on to become assistant general counsel to the United Auto Workers, general counsel to the New York State United Teachers and an arbitrator. He was also an adjunct faculty member at several universities, including Fordham University, Roger Williams University and Cornell University.

Ashe is survived by his wife, Nannette, and his sons, Walter and David.

They released this statement to the ABA Journal: “For over 60 years, [Ashe] was committed and dedicated to protecting and assuring the rights of public employees. We share only a glimpse of service by one of the American Bar Association’s true believers in its purpose, programs and capabilities to positively impact the implementation of our country’s legal systems for the benefit and welfare of all elements of our communities and our nation.

“May it continue to be so.”

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