Winter 2019


Remembering a Friend: A Bond Forged in the Classroom and on the Basketball Court

Basketball Team group photo
The 1980 Law Fuchsia intramural basketball team. Front row (left to right): Keefe Brooks, Marvin Droz, Jim Stengel, and George Higgins. Back row (left to right): John Schrashun, Kevin Russell, John Cashen, Bill Noble, Steven Weiss, and Rick Fendel.

Jim Stengel and Bev Bartow met John Schrashun during their first year of law school. He and Stengel became fast friends after finding themselves in the same 1L section, and Stengel introduced Schrashun to Bartow soon after. Little did they know that Schrashun, whose friendship was central to their law school experience, would not be alive to celebrate their fifth reunion. Now, nearly 40 years later, Stengel and Bartow, who are married, have established the John D. W. Schrashun Scholarship Fund to honor their good friend who was gone too soon.

This trio of 1980 graduates—joined often by Schrashun’s future wife, Kim McNulty, MBA ’80—bonded over many subjects, but it was basketball that really brought them together. “John was a very good basketball player,” says Stengel, recalling their time as teammates on the Law Fuchsia intramural basketball team. “I was not and still am not [a good player], but we had fun.” The team and the social group that grew around it formed close bonds extending far beyond sports.

“John had the most intensive knowledge of music of anyone I’ve ever known,” says Bartow, a senior development professional at Lawyers Alliance for New York. “He would listen to music with headphones and make latch-hook rugs. It was a wonderfully different thing to do. He truly was brilliant and gifted with a great sense of sardonic humor.” She and Stengel hope that future students, particularly recipients of the John D. W. Schrashun Scholarship, will find the same sort of congenial group of friends that they shared with Schrashun and McNulty.

Michigan was a family tradition for Schrashun, whose mother, father, uncle, and grandfather were all proud Wolverines. His grandfather, John R. Watkins, graduated from the Law School in 1917. “John spent more time working before law school than the rest of us,” says Stengel, a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in New York. “It gave him a more mature view and appreciation of the whole experience.” After law school, Schrashun spent three years at Bodman PLC in Detroit before finding his calling as general counsel for a community hospital in Owosso, Michigan.

“We like to help the Law School where we can. Having made the decision to start a scholarship, the question became who we would honor with the gift,” says Stengel. “It had to be John. He was a loyal friend and classmate of ours, who was important to us both at that point in our lives.”  Stengel and Bartow are joined by several classmates and former Law Fuchsia teammates, including Marvin Droz, Daniel Hefter, George Higgins, Bill Noble, and Kevin Russell, in giving to the John D. W. Schrashun Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“John was a good listener and took his time in evaluating a situation, professionally and personally, before forming a conclusion. He had a sharp mind and enjoyed unpacking complex legal puzzles and the challenges of law school. But more important to him was the comradery,” says McNulty. “I am touched that they have decided to honor John in this way. His memory will live on through the school he loved.”—JP