Charles “Chuck” Davenport, professor of law and Arthur L. Dickson Scholar Emeritus at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, died at his home in Arlington, VA, on April 15, 2015. He was 82.
Davenport, who taught at the law school from 1979 until his retirement in 2008, was described as cherished by colleagues and students for his warmth and humor as he was for his remarkable knowledge of tax law and policy.
He is survived by his wife, Gail; three sons, Lane, Forrest, and Todd; a daughter, Gwen; and five grandchildren.
After receiving his law degree from Harvard in 1957, Davenport practiced in San Francisco for several years before joining the staff of tax legislative counsel in the U.S. Treasury Department. Later, while teaching at the University of California at Davis, he was appointed assistant director of the Congressional Budget Office for the Tax Analysis Division.
Following “this tour of duty in Washington, D.C.,” as he described it, Davenport joined the Rutgers School of Law–Newark faculty in 1979 where he taught federal income taxation, estate and gift taxation, and tax policy.
Operating under a contract with the Administrative Conference of the United States, he directed a staff that spent a year studying procedures of the Internal Revenue Service and producing a report and recommendations for improvement. With others, he wrote for the Department of Agriculture a work on the effect of tax provisions on the agricultural sector of the economy.
Davenport wrote several books and numerous articles and collected and edited two anthologies. For several years, he was associated with Tax Analysts, a nonprofit dedicated to providing timely, accurate, impartial information about taxation and key policy issues. He served as special reports editor, editor-in-chief, chief editorial officer, and consulting editor.
In announcing the death, then Acting Dean Ronald K. Chen said: “With Chuck’s sense of humor, he would probably be the first to note the irony that he, a longtime tax professor, passed away on April 15. We only wish that he could have filed a Form 4868 (automatic extension of time), but it was not to be.”
Professor Diana Sclar shared the following about her long-time friend:
“Chuck Davenport transcended his modest beginnings to become an influential public servant and professor of law. He was the youngest of eight children born to a poor farm family in rural northwest Missouri. When the farm no longer could provide for them, the family moved to Yuba City, California, where his father worked in a lumber mill. Chuck, who had just begun high school, got his first job there — picking pears and working in a cannery.
“Chuck’s obvious intelligence and love of learning impressed one of his high school teachers, who encouraged him to apply to Chico State College. At the time, the college, which was a new addition to the California State College system, had about 1,700 students. Chuck was a standout among them and several of his professors encouraged him to apply to law school.
“Coincidentally, Harvard Law School then was seeking applicants from rural areas. Chico State was one of the rural colleges to which Harvard sent materials about this program. Chuck applied and immediately was accepted. His record there was strong enough for a prestigious San Francisco law firm to hire him as an associate, where he worked for several years before entering government service.
“Chuck never took credit for how far he had traveled from his roots. He always attributed his success to his teachers and the other people who had supported him along the way. Characteristically, his license plate frame was not from Harvard; it was from Chico State.”