Remembering Emeritus Professor Bill Goldfarb

Dr. William Goldfarb, of Pennington, NJ, died on April 10, 2024 at 86.  Professor Emeritus of Rutgers University, Cook College, N.J., he is survived by his wife of 41 years, Illse, his daughter Catherine Heacox and his grandson, Griffin Cushing. He is predeceased in death by his father, Herman “Chubbie” Goldfarb, an entertainment lawyer and Yetta Goldfarb. Dr Goldfarb graduated Colgate University, B.A.; Yale Law School, J.D.; and Columbia University, M.A. and Ph.D. in English and comparative literature.

Dr. Goldfarb had a distinguished career beginning in law and culminating in academia. He practiced corporate law in New York City privately and with the law firm of Goldwater and Flynn. In 1971, Dr. Goldfarb transitioned from practicing law to teaching literature at Stevens Institute of Technology. A lifelong fly fisherman and outdoorsman, Dr. Goldfarb’s passions were ignited by the budding environmental movement, and he melded his love of the law, humanities and the environment by creating and teaching courses on Environmental Law and Policy to the engineering students at Stevens Tech.

In 1974, Dr. Goldfarb joined Rutgers University, at the newly established Cook College which was dedicated to multidisciplinary undergraduate teaching for students in environmental sciences and natural resources. For 31 years, Dr. Goldfarb taught Environmental Law to Rutgers graduate and undergraduate students, concentrating on environmental policy and water pollution issues, the perfect match for his lifelong passion for fly fishing. He was well known as a tough but dedicated teacher and many of his students went on to law school. He inspired all of his students to use the law as a positive tool in their future professional work in the environmental sciences.

Dr. Goldfarb was also a special consultant to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, where he drafted two the state’s major water pollution control laws: New Jersey Water Pollution Control Act and the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act. In addition, he served on the New Jersey Governor’s Science Advisory Committee and was president of the New Jersey Environmental Lobby. Dr. Goldfarb wrote the text, “Water Law” and was a contributing author to “Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law and Society,” in addition to numerous articles and book chapters on various aspects of environmental law.

Dr. Goldfarb’s life was marked by integrity and intellectual vigor, traits that characterized his interactions with his students and colleagues. He inspired many of his students to continue the good fight in their public and private lives to protect our natural resources for future generations to work, live, hunt and fish in balance with the world.

Dr. Goldfarb was an avid fly tier and had fly fished for trout and small mouth bass in the fresh waters of the East Coast, Montana and the Canadian Arctic, but the Delaware River was first in his heart. He was a long-time member of Trout Unlimited.

Dr. Goldfarb was a kind, loving and inspirational husband, father and friend. His personal interests were broad. He loved British literature (particularly Dickens) and soccer, and read and wrote poetry. He was a keen backgammon and blackjack player. He enjoyed a fine glass of Scotch or bourbon with a friend, especially after a day spent fly fishing. He shared his interest in jazz, classical music, and gardening with his wife of 41 years. He gave unwavering love and support to his beloved daughter, Catherine, inspiring her to become an attorney. He taught his grandson, Griffin, to fly fish and play a mean game of blackjack.


A celebration of Dr. Goldfarb’s life is scheduled on May 26, 2024 at Hopewell Valley Vineyards.


In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Dr. Goldfarb’s name may be made to the National Fish and Wildlife Fund at: