Lowry Wyman, 1950-2015

Co-founder with Barnabas D. Johnson of the Jurlandia Institute

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PEAKS ISLAND, MAINE … Lowry Wyman – linguist, lawyer, teacher – died peacefully on May 12, 2015, following a long battle with cancer. She was born in 1950 near Grafton, Massachusetts, and is survived by her parents, Edward and Pastora, and her brothers, Cutter and Corson, all of the Grafton area. She is also survived by Barnabas Johnson, her husband since 1986 and her professional partner during the past quarter century. 

Ms. Wyman received her J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978; her M.A. from Harvard University in Regional Studies – USSR, in 1975; and her B.A. from Middlebury College in 1971, under whose auspices she spent her first year at the University of Besançon in Besançon, France, and the first semester of her senior year at the University of Leningrad, USSR. Fluent in Russian and French, and conversant in several other languages, she was especially devoted to “bringing law alive” in translations from English into Russian. From 1988 to 1993, she was a Fellow at the Russian Research Center, Harvard University. Much of her work during that time is contained in a Cold-War archive at Harvard.

Following breakup of the Soviet Union, Ms. Wyman focused on law reform and legal-education reform in post-Soviet regions, including Central Asia and Ukraine. In 1998 she and her husband helped found the Department of Law of the American University of Armenia, where Professor Wyman was highly regarded as a teacher and colleague. To all, she provided inspiration as a consummate professional who, in the face of humanity’s many imperfections, chose reasoned hope premised on equal justice, constitutional democracy, and related Open Society values.

Among her writings, Professor Wyman translated and commented on Andrei Sakharov’s proposed Constitution of the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia, which he drafted shortly before his death in 1989. She was also the co-author with Professor Johnson of the Constitution of Jurlandia, whose translation she coordinated in 1994-96. “Jurlandia” is a “pedagogical country” – a teaching tool. Much of Professor Wyman’s life’s work is in the process of being prepared for internet-mediated research and publication.

Lowry loved these lines from Emily Dickinson:

I stepped from plank to plank
So slow and cautiously;
The stars about my head I felt,
About my feet the sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch —
This gave me that precarious gait
Some call experience.


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