Notices sorted by graduation date.

J. Gordon Hylton
May 29, 1952–May 2, 2018

Respected professor left legacy on the field, in the classroom

Legal historian J. Gordon Hylton (Law ’77, Grad ’78 L/M), who helped form the North Grounds Softball League as a student, died of cancer May 2, 2018.

J. Gordon HyltonIan Bradshaw/Courtesy UVA School of Law

He was able to participate in his daughter’s wedding at the hospital the previous day.

“Gordon was intellectually curious and committed to getting the facts and history right,” said Kim Forde-Mazrui, a fellow law professor.

Hylton, who also earned a doctorate in history from Harvard University, spent the majority of his career at Marquette University Law School, where he studied legal history, sports law and civil rights. He joined the full-time faculty at UVA in 2015 after a time as a visiting professor.

“Gordon was a legend at the Law School for his tremendous knowledge of our history, his love of sharing stories from the civil rights era, and his warmth and generosity,” said Dean Risa Goluboff in an email.

Among his many involvements, Hylton was a member of the Working Group on Racial Inequality, and he was instrumental in telling the history of Gregory Swanson’s experience as the first African-American student to enter UVA.

Hylton was “genuinely motivated by understanding,” says Forde-Mazrui, and approached his work, especially on issues of race, “from a place of truth and understanding and compassion.”

His legacy, however, began when he was one of the first students in the dual J.D.-M.A. program and co-founded the beloved North Grounds Softball League.

Off the field and out of the office, Hylton was known for his vast knowledge of trivia. He served as the phone-a-friend lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire four different times, according to his obituary.

“Whether the conversation was about African-American lawyers or how softball influenced the social scene at UVA,” said Goluboff, “I would inevitably walk away with a deeper understanding of our shared culture and history.”

Survivors include a son; three daughters; and a brother, Myles T. Hylton (Law ’83).

—Sarah Poole