Mary Riepma Cowell Ross


Mary Riepma Cowell Ross graduated from Vassar in 1932 and received her law degree in 1938 from Memphis State University [now University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law]. In the early 1940’s, she worked for the government in Washington, D.C., chiefly in the Office of Alien Property of the U.S. Justice Department, and was affiliated with Cromelin, Townsend and Kirkland. She moved to New York in 1946 to work for Royal, Koegel & Rogers [which became Rogers & Wells and is now Clifford Chance LLP], where she became an expert in wills, trusts and estates. She joined NYWBA in 1948, and before her Presidency she served as Vice President, Corresponding Secretary, Director, and member of the Judiciary, By-Laws, Legislation, and Equal Opportunities for Women Committees. After her term, she served on the Advisory Council for more than 50 years. She was also active in the American Bar Association, the National Association of Women Lawyers, and the New York City Bar. In 1961, she opened a solo practice and became active in philanthropic work, serving on the Board of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, the Central Park Community Fund, the University of Nebraska Foundation, and other organizations. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, she competed in amateur ballroom events, and in 1989 she donated $3.5 million to establish the Mary Riepma Ross Film Theatre at the University of Nebraska. She passed away in 2013 at the age of 102.