Oct. 26, 2017 -- Colleagues, friends and family members celebrated the life of former University of Houston Law Center Dean and Professor Stephen Zamora last Thursday at a ceremony in The O'Quinn Library.
A set of 10 copperplate engravings from the "1742 Atlas Coelestis" by Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr were donated to the Law Center in 1998 by Jan and Suzanne Baker, 1973 Law Center alumni. Doppelmayr was a prominent 18th century astronomer, mathematician and cartographer. The plates were rededicated in Zamora's memory and in recognition of his many contributions to the Law Center.
"These engravings are astronomical maps of the world," Dean Leonard M. Baynes said. "It's such a fitting tribute that these maps are dedicated to Professor Zamora given his emphasis on globalism, NAFTA and Latin America."
Zamora, who retired in 2014 after 36 years in the classroom, died in Mexico City on July 8, 2016 at the age of 72. Zamora joined the Law Center faculty in 1978, and served as the Law Center's dean from 1995 to 2000. He founded and continued to direct the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law at the law school, served as director of the North American Consortium on Legal Education, and as an adviser to the Houston Journal of International Law.
He is survived by his widow, Lois Zamora, a University of Houston English professor, a son, Peter Zamora, his wife Marcela, a daughter, Camille Zamora, and her husband Thomas, grandsons Landon and Nate, and siblings Carol, Mary, Anita, John, Paula, and Tony, and many nephews, nieces, cousins, aunts, in-laws, and friends. Lois and Camille Zamora attended the ceremony.
The Bakers issued the following statement as a tribute to Zamora:
"We will not try to summarize it, except to say that Steve Zamora more than fulfilled the hopes of everyone who was involved in recruiting him to join the faculty. After he became Dean, one of the things that he told us was that, in addition to the intense desire that he had to help the Law Center continue on its great upward trajectory, he also wanted to try to make the actual physical spaces for students and faculty more attractive and inviting. He specifically mentioned that he thought one of the things that might help the 'feel' of the Law Center was displaying more artwork.
That comment eventually led to our discussing with him whether he thought that the Law Center might be interested in acquiring a collection of 10 antique astronomical prints, for display wherever he deemed appropriate. He replied positively, came over to our house to see them, and said that the Law Center would like to have them for the Law Library. At that point they moved fairly quickly to the Law Library and have hung in several different locations there ever since.
About the prints--we were drawn to them in the first place because of the images that accompanied the scientific observations. They seemed to represent a time when art, science and philosophy were not yet separate ways of looking at the world. We were never able to find a book to explain the images or why they were chosen. Somehow, though, we felt we were looking back into the world view that underlies the beginnings of all modern legal systems: a combination of analysis and observation with mysticism. You know, judges used to believe that all law was "out there"--perhaps ordained by God, and when they decided cases they analyzed the facts and then "found" the law that should be applied. The prints have that same combination of observation and analysis--the astronomy part--overlaid with archaic and other-worldly images from religion and myth. So, it seemed fitting to us that they should be hung in the law school, and Steve's suggestion that they be hung in the law library was just perfect--among the books, where students and lawyers seek to join analysis with inspiration in approaching legal problems.
The rededication ceremony was a fitting tribute to someone who was a great teacher, scholar, innovator, and, of course, Dean of the Law Center. He loved the place, the people, and the students -- and they adored him. We are delighted to have helped in the creation of this permanent memorial to him and his lifetime of contributions to the Law Center."