In Memoriam: Rondolyn O’Brien

On July 31, 2006, women’s bar associations lost a great friend when Rondolyn O’Brien, age 54, of Albuquerque, N.M, passed away after a long illness.

She was active in bar associations at every level, serving as president of the New Mexico Women’s Bar Association, the Albuquerque Bar Association, as bar commissioner for the State Bar of New Mexico and as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association.

Rondolyn was a member of the NCWBA board for eight years, from 1993 until 2001, serving as president in 1999-2000.

Katherine O’Neil (NCWBA President 1993-94) remembers Rondolyn’s first NCWBA board meeting in Chicago. “She brought a refreshing joy to the proceedings as well as practical insights. With her enthusiastic openness and sincerity, she was immediately accessible to all. No matter what hour a board meeting began or in what city, Rondolyn managed to do some expert shopping before the meeting or at the very least scope out the shops. I still have a bright red wool jacket trimmed in black and white rickrack identical to one that Rondolyn found in Chicago, of all places. I wear the jacket whenever it’s appropriate for me to look like an urban cowgirl.”

Rondolyn was an early advocate of the need for a summit meeting for women’s bar associations, despite considerable skepticism from board members concerned with the logistics and costs of such an endeavor.

In 1998, as Rondolyn began her term as NCWBA President-Elect, the first part-day women’s bar summit was held at the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto.

In Katherine O’Neil’s words: “The summit became and remains the NCWBA’s most important outreach activity. The summit is a fitting living memorial to a woman lawyer who believed in the power and promise of the women’s bar.”

— Source: NCWBA Newsletter, 2007

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