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Bar News - May 18, 2012

NH Bar Foundation: Nighswander Bequest Creates Justice Fund


Members of the Nighswander family gathered last month for a ceremony at the Bar Center celebrating the creation of the Arthur & Esther Nighswander Justice Fund.
A bequest from past NH Bar President Arthur Nighswander to the NH Bar Foundation will support activities and projects that deepen understanding of the role of government and educate citizens on how to protect their civil liberties under the Constitution.

A reception April 10 at the Bar Center celebrated the creation of the Arthur and Esther Nighswander Justice Fund, with many Nighswander family and friends attending, as well as officers and supporters of the Bar Foundation. The bequest, which totaled slightly more than $30,000, is already supporting its mission. Mildred Larson, the Nighswanders’ eldest and only surviving child, approved the use of a portion of the bequest to support the Civics in Action initiative this year.

Arthur Nighswander, NH Bar President in 1954-1955 and a civil rights champion throughout his life, died in 2008, two months after celebrating his 100th birthday. His wife, Esther, who served in the New Hampshire Legislature and was active in women’s rights and civil rights issues, died in 1999. (See accompanying article.)

Already funded by the bequest, Civics in Action is a joint Bar Association/Bar Foundation project aimed at stimulating discussion about the level of awareness of civics among adults. Civics in Action, modeled on a Florida program, was developed by a steering committee chaired by NHBA President Jennifer Parent and Mary Susan Leahy of the NH Supreme Court Society. Relying on dozens of volunteer attorneys, Civics in Action has brought an interactive adult-education program to all Rotary clubs in NH. The program is based on the civics test used in the naturalization process. The goal this year was to present it to groups of influential, community-involved citizens, and the project is closing in on its ambitious objective of presenting the program to all 56 Rotary clubs in NH. Project staff aimed to meet that goal by May 4, the conclusion of Law Week in NH. (See the webpage tracking its activities).

"The role of government was important to both of my parents," said Larson, who helped shape the mission statement for the Arthur and Esther Nighswander Justice Fund. "I am hoping the fund will encourage projects that help people understand what their government does, what the structure of government is, and how we can protect our civil liberties. We hope to see it support projects that help citizens realize that they have a role in preserving the guarantees of civil liberties in our form of government."

The NH Bar Foundation promotes philanthropy dedicated to ensuring that all people in New Hampshire, especially those of limited means, are able to understand and participate fully in the justice system.

The Bar Foundation serves as the unique charitable institution for members of the NH Bar Association and others who wish to make financial gifts in the spirit of "honoring the law."

A number of Justice Funds have been created or are in the process of being established. According to John Maher, development director for the NH Bar Foundation, grants from existing Justice Funds have supported 150 small projects that represented innovative approaches or served targeted needs within the foundation’s mission.

Most recently, the firm McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton created the McLane Fund in Honor of Jack Middleton (See March 16 issue of Bar News). Justice Funds can serve as a source of income for an undesignated purpose that helps the Bar Foundation fulfill its mission, or they can be directed to a concept or entity that reflects the donor’s values. The NH Bar Foundation has partnered with the NH Charitable Foundation to help manage these funds.

For more information about the Justice Funds Initiative, please contact Maher at the NH Bar Foundation, at 603-498-6399, or contact Jack B. Middleton, Chairman, NH Bar Foundation, at 603-628-1446.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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