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Geoffrey L. Gifford 1946-2019

Geoffrey L. Gifford, 72, of Chicago, died Feb. 9, 2019.  He was born on Nov. 26, 1946, in Kirksville, Missouri, to Robert Marvin Gifford and Elnora Francis (Overstreet) Gifford. He lived a full life as a loving son, husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend.

Geoff graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Missouri in 1968 and received his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1971.

Geoff is survived by his wife, Terri McAuley, of Chicago; his son, Andrew Gifford, of New Canaan, Connecticut; and his daughter, Katherine Gifford, of Maplewood, New Jersey.  Geoff is also survived by his daughter-in-law, Lisa DeLong Gifford; his son-in-law, Bill Carlson; his three cherished grandchildren, Max Gifford, Nina Carlson and Charlie Carlson; his brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Ann Gifford of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; his former wife, Jerrilyn Gifford; and his beloved dogs, Kenney and Pearl. 

He was predeceased by his parents and his sister, Sara Swisher. Geoff was an avid reader, moviegoer, traveler, golfer, dog lover, and University of Michigan sports fan. His greatest joy was spending time with his family and close friends. Geoff had a gift for storytelling, a nickname for everyone in his life, and a penchant for buying t-shirts from every show he ever saw and every destination he visited.

After completing law school, Geoff joined his father’s law practice in his hometown of Green City, Missouri, practiced for a brief time with the law firm Forsythe, Campbell, Vandenberg & Clevenger in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and then served as prosecuting attorney and corporation counsel for the City of Kirksville, Missouri. Never one to shy away from new challenges, Geoff and his family moved to Chicago in 1977, where he accepted a position as adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law and served as co-director for the Project for Aged, a legal aid clinic supporting senior citizens. He then joined Asher, Pavalon, Gittler & Greenfield, Ltd., where he began working with Gene Pavalon and developed an expertise in personal injury law, advocating on behalf of injured clients in products liability and medical malpractice cases. In 1989, Gene and Geoff established Pavalon & Gifford, where Geoff continued to practice. He also associated with Romanucci & Blandin in recent years.

Geoff is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers and the American Board of Trial Advocates.  He served as president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association in 1996 when he led a constitutional challenge of tort reform legislation that resulted in the law being overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court. This led to Geoff being named as a finalist for the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice 1998 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. In 2007, he was awarded the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association’s Leonard M. Ring Lifetime Achievement Award. Geoff served on countless bar association committees and was active throughout his career in writing and teaching, particularly for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education.

In 1996, Geoff added a mediation component to his practice. In addition to his trial practice, Geoff served as a mediator for over 20 years in more than one thousand cases, primarily in medical malpractice matters. 

Geoff was also active with charitable and philanthropic organizations. He served as a member of the Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic Advisory Board, a member of the board of directors of the Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation and a member of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics. Geoff actively supported St. Ignatius College Prep and the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholars program for college-bound golf caddies in need of financial assistance. In recent years, Geoff became an ordained minister and performed several wedding ceremonies for relatives and friends.

Posted on February 12, 2019 by Rhys Saunders