In Memoriam: Professor Regis William Campfield

Author: Dean Nell Jessup Newton

By Nell Jessup Newton, Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law

Campfield Regis

I am very sorry to announce that Professor Regis Campfield, founder of the Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute, passed away on Oct. 27, 2017, in Dallas, Texas. He was 75 years old.

Regis served on our faculty from 1970 – 1977 before moving to SMU Law School, where he remained until his retirement in 2009 as Professor Emeritus of Law and Marilyn Jeanne Johnson Distinguished Law Faculty Fellow Emeritus. He was a nationally known expert in trusts and estates, and in particular estate and gift taxation, and wrote many books and articles including Taxation of Estate, Gifts and Trusts (now in its 23rd edition), Fiduciary Tax Guide, and Taxation of Income.

At Notre Dame Law School, Regis founded and nurtured the Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute, an annual CLE program that every year attracts hundreds of attendees to hear the nation’s best tax and estate planning experts. He operated the institute as a truly family project with his dear wife Mary and their children drafted to work on everything from mailing lists to welcoming attendees. 

Professor Patty O’Hara has known Regis since the early 1970s when she was one of his students at NDLS. “When Regis left Notre Dame to join Southern Methodist University,” she said, “he graciously chose to keep the Institute at Notre Dame and to continue as its chairperson. Over the course of 35 years Regis and his family built the Institute into a premier continuing legal education program of national renown.”

In 2004, during Dean O’Hara’s tenure, the law school named an endowed library collection in the Campfields’ honor. Today the Regis and Mary Campfield Estate Planning Collection contains thousands of library volumes related to wills, trusts, and estate planning. In addition, proceeds from the Institute continue to benefit students through the Tax and Estate Planning/Regis and Mary Campfield Fellowship fund.

The year I became dean, Regis turned over the reins of the Institute to the Law School. In recognition of his long service and generosity, we recognized Regis and Mary Campfield by naming Biolchini Room 1352 in their honor. Regis loved Notre Dame and the Law School and I had the privilege of enjoying a close relationship with Regis and Mary in the ensuing years. A trip to Dallas always included a long dinner with Regis and Mary consisting of good wine, great food, entertaining anecdotes, and pithy observations. We are fortunate that one of his many legacies, the Tax and Estate Planning Institute, continues today under the watchful eye of NDLS Professor Michael Kirsch and the direction of Jerry Hesch of the University of Miami.  The 43d Annual Institute was held just two weeks ago.

“The Notre Dame Law School community, along with estate planning professionals throughout the Midwest, owe Regis a tremendous amount of gratitude,” said Professor Kirsch.  “Regis, along with Mary and their family, dedicated uncountable hours to the success of the Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute. Although Regis retired from running the Institute several years ago, his influence is still felt (and will continue to be felt) in the fall of each year in South Bend as hundreds of estate planning professionals gather to learn at the Institute that Regis founded.  He will be greatly missed by the many friends that he made through his efforts at the Institute.”

Regis graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame in 1963 and went on to earn his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he met and in 1966 married Mary Tarpley, a University of Virginia Ph.D. candidate from Dallas. He practiced law in Cleveland before joining the NDLS faculty.

Regis is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Allison and son-in-law Mike Taten, daughter Claire and son-in-law John Storino (both members of the NDLS class of 2000), and six grandchildren.

A funeral mass was said at St. Rita Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Regis and Mary Campfield ACE Endowment for Excellence, Notre Dame Development, 1251 N. Eddy St., Suite 300, South Bend, Indiana 46617 or to a charity of your choice.

Read more: Obituary in Dallas Morning News