John Randolph Batt, who taught 40 years at the University of Kentucky College of Law, died Tuesday in the hospice unit of St. Joseph Hospital. He was 75.
Batt taught a variety of courses including criminal law, law and psychological science, family law and sports law. He published articles and books in all these areas, including co-editing a handbook on jury selection with UK sociology professor Walter Abbott.
"He was one of my favorite professors in law school," said Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts. "He was very interested in criminal law, and he made his courses extremely interesting. He was a great professor."
Former student James R. Elkins, who teaches law at West Virginia University in Morgantown, said Batt was "as knowledgeable about everything as anybody I had ever known. I was convinced early on he knew everything."
What made Batt stand out, Elkins said, was that "he was more alive than any teacher I have known in the classroom. He had this great, ongoing intensity, but with levity." Elkins compared Batt to "a great quarterback who could run, pass and do miraculous things."
Batt grew up in Baltimore. He received his undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from the College of William & Mary, where he served as editor of the law review.
In 1960, he earned a master's of law from Yale University Law School.
Outside the classroom, Batt was an active athlete, playing a lot of pickup basketball. "He was known to be a dynamo on the court," chuckled his wife, Claire. "You didn't want to foul John."
But football was his first love. After retiring, he began work on a book about professional football players, looking for what it was in their personalities that enabled them to become such outstanding athletes, Claire Batt said: "He was trying to get an understanding of the psychological drive that helped them be different."
Every afternoon Batt could be found at Panera on Richmond Road with a group of friends who loved to get together and talk politics and sports, Claire Batt said.
Batt donated his body to the University of Kentucky College of Medicine "because he really wanted to focus on the living," she said.
He did not want a funeral. "He had a real aversion to funerals," Claire Batt said. "He wanted a party for his friends after he died." There will be a party to celebrate his life between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at Portofino Restaurant, 249 East Main Street.
In addition to his wife, survivors include brothers William and James, and a sister, Dee Navick, all of Baltimore.