The Mason Spirit: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of George Mason University

In Memoriam

Omer Lee Hirst, 89, statesman, businessman, and 1989 recipient of the George Mason Medal, died on July 29. As an elected official, Hirst was highly instrumental in two major breakthroughs for George Mason University: the acquisition of the Law School and the achievement of doctoral status.

Hirst also had a significant role in the development of Northern Virginia and was a leading member of the Virginia state legislature, first as a member of the House of Delegates from 1954 to 1959, and later as a member of the state Senate from 1964 to 1979. He was chief patron of the bills that created George Mason's School of Law and authorized the financing and construction of the Dulles Toll Road.

Following his service in the Virginia legislature, Hirst remained closely involved with George Mason. In 1980, Hirst and his wife, Nancy, created a prestigious lecture series at George Mason featuring nationally recognized speakers. In 1986, the lecture series grew into the Omer L. and Nancy M. Hirst Endowed Professorship of Public Policy.

A longtime member of the George Mason University Foundation Board of Trustees, Hirst was a keynote speaker at the dedication of the George Mason statue in 1996 on the Fairfax Campus.

The Hirst family requests memorial donations be directed to the School of Public Policy or the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

George L. Powell, 91, a retired administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board who was a founder and past president of what became the Law School at George Mason University, died on July 25.

Powell was a National Labor Relations Board lawyer and an assistant general counsel before serving as an administrative law judge from 1959 to 1974. In 1972, he and three colleagues founded the International School of Law in Washington. The Law School, which began in a church basement with about two dozen students, moved to the old Kann's department store in Arlington in 1977. Powell was president of the Law School when it was acquired by George Mason in 1979. He was a longtime trustee of the George Mason University Foundation.

His family requests memorial donations be designated to the School of Law.