John Walter Douard, a longtime resident of Montclair, died on Sept. 22, 2020. He was 75.

Born and raised in Chicago, Mr. Douard was the son of Lemuel and Zora (nee Obradovich) Douard. After studying at Roosevelt University, he graduated from the University of Illinois, Chicago (1970), where he later earned his Ph.D. in philosophy. 

He was a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Institute for the Medical Humanities between 1986 and 1997. 

From the time he moved to Montclair in 1997, he taught philosophy, longest and most recently as an adjunct faculty member at Rutgers New Brunswick. Changing careers, Mr. Douard entered the law school at Rutgers Newark when he was 53. 

SAVE MONTCLAIR LOCAL: We need your support, and we need it today. The journalism you value from Montclair Local, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, depends on the community's support — we exist because the old model of selling ads alone just can't fund journalism at the level we endeavor to provide. That's why you've seen other local newsrooms cut back staff or shut down entirely. Montclair Local was created because we believe that's unacceptable; the community's at its best when triumphs are celebrated, when power is held to account, when diverse lived experiences are shared — when the community is well-informed.

Montclair is seeking to raise $230,000 from donors, members and grantors between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 to put us on firm footing for 2022, and continue supporting the hard work of our journalists into the new year and beyond. Visit to see how we're doing and make your contribution.

After graduating (2001), he clerked for Judge Michael “Pat” King of the Appellate Division. He moved to the appellate section of the Office of the New Jersey Public Defender in 2003. He was known as an eternal student.

His colleagues and friends at the Office of the Public Defender said Mr. Douard was a champion for clients and took on a number of important cases, many involving clients with issues related to mental illness. He also made major contributions to the Forensic Science Work Group. 

Mr. Douard is survived by his partner, Laura Kramer, and her family; his sister, Marianne Zettl; nieces Brittany and Tammy and their families, and many beloved cousins and friends.

In honor of Mr. Douard, please vote.  For online condolences please visit