In Memoriam: Rusty Dalferes

5/1/1974 - 5/11/2022

Last week the Jessup family unexpectedly lost one of its most cherished members. Rusty Dalferes was a kind, intelligent, hilarious, and warm-hearted person who treated everyone he met with unreserved friendliness. Upon entering the Judges Room at the International Rounds any time in the last two decades you saw his huge smile and heard his resonant laughter.

Mention Rusty’s name, and you will hear about his many endearing qualities. First, Rusty was an amazing hugger who enveloped you in joy and made you feel special. Second, he was a stickler for correct grammar and never hesitated to (kindly) point out your mistakes. He did this because he cared deeply about language and believed in its power. Third, Rusty loved the Jessup Competition and his brothers and sisters in the global Jessup community. He believed in its mission to promote international law and global harmony. Over the years his dedication and passion for the Jessup positively impacted thousands of lives around the world.

Rusty first stormed onto the ILSA scene in the Spring of 1999, when he attended the ILSA Spring Conference as a delegate from Tulane University Law School.  While there, he was first exposed to the Jessup Competition, and he fell in love immediately.  The next year, he was elected to the ILSA Board of Directors as a student officer, and got his first taste of volunteering in the Jessup Competition.  During that time, he found his home in the Judges Room, eventually becoming Judges Coordinator. He once said: “You get to wear robes. You get to be called ‘Your Excellency.’ You get to hang out with people from all over the world. Why wouldn’t you want to come to Jessup?”

Fortunately for the Jessup Competition, his commitment and involvement continued to grow through the years. Rusty stepped into many roles, including judge, volunteer, mentor, advisor, and friend. Each year he volunteered to take on the mammoth task of being Judges Coordinator; it gave him the opportunity to communicate with hundreds of judges from around the world.

Rusty developed and improved a comprehensive judge recruitment and assignment system, ensuring that judges and competitors experienced the International Rounds to the fullest. His time in the Judges Room began with a white board, progressed to a laptop, and culminated in the world’s fully global, virtual moot court competition. The ease with which Jessup survived and thrived online was due in no small part to the fact that Rusty had already created a global Jessup judging corps.

Rusty’s passion for travel took him around the world. Rusty judged National Rounds in Venezuela, Colombia, Russia, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey, Mexico, Guatemala, and countless U.S. Regional Rounds. He loved to see students learning about international law and was many students’ and volunteers’ first pathway to the global Jessup community. Rusty believed in the unofficial Jessup motto - “In the future, world leaders will look upon each other differently, because we met here first, as friends.”

Rusty received numerous awards for his dedicated service to the Jessup Competition, but he never sought public recognition or accolades. Rusty’s reward was gathering with his friends to talk about the Compromiswhile enjoying hearty camaraderie and respectfully debating the issues of the day.  Anyone lucky enough to enjoy a conversation with Rusty discovered his quick wit and impressively diverse range of knowledge. Rusty led in-depth discussions regarding current issues in public international law, art history, linguistics, futbol, world leaders, and – not least of which – the many reasons everyone should attend Mardi Gras. All of which occurred over a good glass of rum.

Rusty’s passion for the Jessup was undeniable. His passion for the Jessup and everyone involved in the competition will forever be a part of his legacy. Throughout the years he often described a utopia called “Jessup Island.” He promised that, once he won the lottery, he would create a place that would be all inclusive and welcoming not only to the Jessup community, but to all humankind.

It’s hard to imagine that Rusty will not be with us at International Rounds next year. He is deeply missed by the Jessup community, his family, and his friends.  His absence will be felt for many years to come.

Please take a moment to reach out to the people you love and give them a Rusty-sized hug.

In honor of Rusty’s decades of service to the Jessup, ILSA will be establishing a memorial fund in his name. Details will be shared in the coming days.

2 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Rusty Dalferes

  1. Rusty was a great guy and I always enjoyed making him laugh. His laugh was contagious. He was a kind person and big hearted friend. Sad to hear his news!

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