Tulane Alumni Association




Distinguished Alumnus/a Award 1990



Harry Bartlett Kelleher

Harry B. Kelleher, a lifelong resident of New Orleans, was born here in 1910. He attended Tulane University from 1926 to 1931, graduating with a combined bachelor of arts and law degree.

He was admitted to the Louisiana Bat that same year and has for 60 years led a distinguished career practicing law in the Crescent City. Co-founder of Lemle and Kelleher in 1950, Mr. Kelleher's practice has encompassed several major civil and criminal aspects of the law.

As chief counsel, he steered 23 separate pieces of litigation that paved the way for the Louisiana Superdome project, which went through both the Supreme Court of Louisiana and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Kelleher was elected Louisian State Bar Association secretary in 1938, and he served as vice chairman of the Committee of Professional Ethics and Greivances for nine years. He was elected a fellow of the American College of Probate Lawyers; he Belongs as well to the Louisiana State Law Institute and the American Law Institute; and he is a member of the Order of the Coif.

Beyond these professional achievements, Mr. Kelleher has further distinguished himself in service to his state, his community and his university.

In 1965 he was a member of the Governor's Advisory Committee on Property Tax Equalization in order, as he put it, to "make certain that the burden is shared fairly." In that year he also became one of the first member of the Luoisiana Commission on Race Relations. In 1967 he was named by Mayor Victor Schiro as temporary chairman of an advisory committee whose work produced the framework of the New Orleans Human Relations Committee. In these capacities Mr. Kelleher encouraged organized dialogue between factions, and was instrumental in the successful desegregation of New Orleans.

He served as the first president of the Metropolitan Area Committee during 1966 and 1967, and he has been a member of the board of directors of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. He served as president of CABL (the Council for a Better Louisiana), which is dedicated to political reform and the economic development of the State of Louisiana.

Mr. Kelleher has been an active churchman as well, serving as vestryman and senior warden of Christ Church Cathedral and as president of the board of trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. For his work to "promote unity and understanding between the races" and to "promote better interfaith relations in the community," Mr. Kelleher in 1968 received the Weiss Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Mr. Kelleher's other civic activities include serving as a member of the board of trustees of the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults, Inc.; chairing the Committee on Services to Handicapped Children in 1956; serving on the Public Affairs Research Council in 1963; chairing the Local Observance Day of the United Nations in 1964; chairing the National Committee of Lawyers for Johnson and Humphrey in 1964; serving on the board of directors of the Gulf South Research Insititute in 1965; and leading the educational and fund-raising crusade of the American Cancer Society's Greater New Orleans Unity in 1966.

Among his other honors and awards, Mr. Kelleher was REX in 1965 and belongs to the Newcomen Society in North America. He has offered his expertise as chairman of the board of trustees of Metairie Park COuntry Day School and was one of the founders of Children's Hospital, being elected honorary life chairman of the hospital's board of trustees.

Mr. Kelleher has from the beginning been an active and involved Tulane alumnus. He was president of the Law School Alumni Association in 1931 and the general chairman of the Tulane Law Alumni Fund Drive in 1958. He is also a member of the Tulane Law School Fellows. In 1963 Mr. Kelleher was appointed a member of the Tulane Board of Administrators, serving on the Development Council and chairing the Student Affairs Committee. From 1968 to 1973 he was chairman of the board, successfully handling student unrest of that period and furthering his reputation as a conciliator. Since 1975 he has served the board as an emeritus member. In 1984 the Law School selected Mr. Kelleher as that year's Distinguished Alumnus.

Throughout his career as a lawyer, community activist, and educational administrator, Mr. Kelleher has consistently distinguished himself as a peacemaker and as a rational link between factions of society separated by religion, by generation, by race and by class.

Alumni Relations, Tulane University, 6319 Willow Street, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5901