Legal Advocacy - Yesterday
Chicago-Kent College of Law alumna Rowine Hayes Brown Truitt came to the legal profession eagerly but had only one real desire in life: to go into medicine. So great was her intention-even during the Great Depression-that Brown Truitt wore hand-me-downs while attending the University of Illinois College of Medicine and lived with a woman who took her into her home largely out of kindness.
After graduating with her medical degree in 1938, Brown Truitt entered into a pediatric residency program at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago) and married physician William Lee Brown during her residency program. In 1950 she began a 36-year career at Cook County Hospital (now John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital), ultimately becoming the first female medical director of a major hospital in the country.
Brown Truitt’s husband died in 1952 and as her administrative duties increased at Cook County, she believed that a law degree would provide her with the knowledge to become a more effective health-care leader. She began writing medical-legal papers with attorney Richard B. Truitt (LAW ’31) on the issues of child abuse, minors’ medical-care rights, and euthanasia, and eventually joined the Chicago South Side law practice where he was a founding partner; they also married in 1992. One of Truitt’s sons from his first marriage, David Truitt (LAW ’62), and grandson, Craig Truitt (LAW ’92), would also join the firm and carry on the family’s legacy.
Brown Truitt would also go on to attain faculty positions at the University of Illinois and IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. She was the first vice president of the Chicago-Kent Alumni Association (president from 1979–1981) and president of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois from 1975–76.