Mary Mullarkey; LLB 1968; died March 31, 2021

Former Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey died on March 31, 2021, after a long illness.

She was born on September 28, 1943, in New London, Wisconsin. A graduate of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, she was graduated from Harvard Law School in 1968 and was a Justice on the Supreme Court of Colorado from 1987 to 2010, the last 12 years as Chief Justice.

An account of her life appeared in the Denver Post April 1, 2021.  [p. A1]

She is survived by her husband of nearly 50 years, Tom Korson; their son, Dr Andrew Korson; daughter in law Emly Terhune Korson; granddaughters Anika and Avery Korson; four brothers, Jerome Mullarkey of Clearwater, Florida; Rev. John Mullarkey of Menasha, Wisconsin; James Mullarkey, New London, Wisconsin; Dr. Joseph Mullarkey, Oro Valley, Arizona; and numerous nephews, nieces, and cousins.

Contributions may be made to Cure d'Ars Catholic Church, 4701 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Denver, CO 80207; The Colorado Judicial Institute, Box 118, Broomfield, CO 80038; The Colorado Lawyers Committee, 1401 Lawrence St., Suite 2300, Denver, CO 80202; or The Multiple Sclerosis Society, Colorado-Wyoming Branch, 900 Broadway, 2nd Floor, Denver, CO 80209.
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Mary and her husband Tom Korson (AB '63) were long-standing members of the Club and attended events regularly until Mary became increasingly housebound a few years before her death.
Tom has for many years written a satirical blog in the style of a newsletter from the "Apocryphal Press®", which "blends fantasy with fact, the former often predominating".  On July 4, 2021, he posted the article below:
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[Tom] Is Now Dependent Because He Lost His Wife Of Nearly Fifty Years


[Your correspondent has] not previously mentioned his family.


But on March 31, 2021, the Love of His Life, Mary Jane Mullarkey, died of pneumonia, end stage multiple sclerosis, and dysphagia (inability to swallow) and, following the tradition in our society, he was there as she bid farewell.

Mary was born in New London, Wisconsin, on September 28, 1943, the fourth of five children of Isabelle Steffes Mullarkey and John Clifford Mullarkey, and their only daughter. She leaves behind four brothers in Wisconsin, Florida, and Arizona.

She was educated in parochial school at the Church of the Most Precious Blood in New London and at Washington High School, also in New London. We were married on July 24, 1971, at St. Patrick’s Church in Lebanon Township, Wisconsin, a lovely fieldstone church in the countryside.

In high school, she excelled in debating; and that prefigured her later outstanding service as a lawyer and, as well, her 23 years of service as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Colorado. During her last 12 years on that Court, she served with great distinction as Chief Justice, the longest serving Chief Justice in Colorado history and as Colorado’s first woman Chief Justice.

She majored in Mathematics at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, where, by report, she was so good in Math that some of her classmates avoided math classes. Then she went to Harvard Law School, a totally male bastion at the time, where she took classes including Chinese Criminal Law. Her first job as a lawyer was at the U S Department of the Interior, where she specialized, at first, in water and power law, and then as the sole Interior Department attorney working on equal employment opportunity law under Executive Orders 11246 and 11375, both issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Her work at the Interior Department occurred during the presidency of President Nixon.

We were married for nearly 50 years.

We have an outstanding son, Andrew Steffes Korson who, with his wonderful wife Emily Terhune Korson, and their two daughters, Anika Mary Korson (11) and Avery Wallace Korson (9), live in Denver.

I, your solitary reporter, spoke at her Mass of Christian Burial at Cure d’Ars Catholic Church in Denver, a predominantly African American parish, on April 13; and on April 26, my son Andrew spoke at a secular Celebration of her Life at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The host of that Celebration was Larry Theis, a longtime friend.

To honor Mary’s truly outstanding contributions to Colorado, several of her law clerks are working on a process to create a scholarship named for her, to encourage law students of diverse backgrounds, including LGTBQ people, who commit to public service. Mary always had very interesting and devoted law clerks, and diversity and commitment to public service were hallmarks of her career.



Tom was always dependent on Mary, and it was mutual. Today, Tom is not independent, but he is doing his best to figure out what his future may be as we celebrate the birth of this exceptional nation, which began as an experiment.