Dwight Opperman, a Drake University law grad who started out as an editor at West Publishing in 1951 and went on to become the CEO of the company, died this past wednesday at the age of 89. During his tenure at West he championed the development of Westlaw which moved the venerable publisher of legal materials, into the digital age.
A news story about him says that he was a child of the depression who before getting the job at West, played music for hire with his first wife to make ends meet. Later in his career, the success of the company and its subsequent sale to Thomson Reuters, allowed him "...become an active philanthropist, establishing a number of scholarships at Drake and also endowing Drake’s Dwight D. Opperman Constitutional Law Lecture, an annual lecture delivered by top scholars, often U.S. Supreme Court justices. "At Drake he made contributions to Opperman Hall and to the law library which was named in his honor.
He had a keen interest in the law and especially the role of the judiciary. He was a major benefactor of American Judicature Society and the United States Supreme Court Historical Society.
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts paid tribute to Opperman saying, "Dwight has long been a committed friend and supporter not only of the Supreme Court, but of the federal judiciary as a whole,"