Bill Dean '51
Bill Dean, a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School, is a lawyer, writer, and civic participant.
As a lawyer, he served for twenty-five years as executive director of Volunteers of Legal Service, an organization providing pro bono civil legal services to benefit low-income residents of New York City.
As a writer, hundreds of his essays have been published, eighty-three of them about New York City, including several on St. Bernard’s, appearing in a collection, My New York, A Life in the City. He currently writes a monthly column, “Letter from New York,” for Indian Economy & Market, a magazine published in Bombay and distributed throughout India.
In Bill’s November 2016 column, “An English Education in New York,” he writes about his favorite teacher at St. Bernard’s – Mr. Fry. “He cared for our well-being in innumerable ways: in the detailed comments he made in his neat, precise hand in the margins of the scrawled chaos that constituted our attempts at prose; in the serious way he approached teaching, as if it were a noble calling, and that we, for whom the effort was being made, must therefore not be without some significance; in his kind word of encouragement following an academic setback.”
As a civic participant, he has served as chairman of the New York Society Library and of the Correctional Association of New York. He is an almoner for the Havens Relief Fund Society and for thirteen years was the Wednesday night driver for the Coalition for the Homeless downtown food van. In May of 2017, Bill was honored by the Havens Relief Fund Society for his volunteer work as an almoner. In this unusual role, with its ancient title–the Kings of France had almoners to disburse their charitable giving – Bill has assisted 900 families and dispersed over $600,000 in charity funds to families to overcome financial emergencies.
He is the recipient of the Brooke Russell Astor Award presented by the New York Public Library, an award honoring a person “who is relentless in his dedication to the City and who has contributed substantially to its enrichment.”
When not lawyering, writing, or volunteering, Bill enjoys traveling the world and playing basketball.