In Memoriam - Taysen Van Itallie

Theodore B. Van Itallie, Jr. 

Theodore B. Van Itallie, Jr., 70, died at home in Princeton on September 11, 2021.   The cause was myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood cancer. 

An attorney, he had an accomplished and varied career in private practice, as corporate counsel, in government service, and as an arbitrator.  He was a litigator for 19 years at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler in New York, where he became a partner in 1985.  From 1996 to 2009 he was Associate General Counsel and head of global litigation for Johnson & Johnson.  He served as Director of the Division of Law, NJ Department of Law and Public Safety, in 2009.  He then became an arbitrator specializing in commercial disputes in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, continuing that work until 2021.   

He was a co-founder and chair of the Chief Litigation Counsel Association, co-founder and president of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, and a board member of the Fund for Modern Courts, among other organizations.  He taught advanced law courses at Seton Hall and Columbia Law Schools, and published pointed commentary on New Jersey legal issues. 

Known from childhood as Taysen, he was born September 13, 1950, in Boston, the second of five children of Barbara Cox Van Itallie and Dr. Theodore B. Van Itallie.  He grew up in New Jersey, first in Franklin Lakes and later in Englewood, and spent idyllic summers on Long Island Sound in Fenwick, Connecticut.  He graduated from Choate in 1968, then studied for a year at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.  He earned his B.A. cum laude from Harvard in 1973 and his J.D. in 1977 from Columbia, where he was a Kent Scholar.   

He met his wife, Jane Scott, when both were lawyers at Patterson Belknap; they married in 1988 and raised two children, the joy of Taysen’s life.  He maintained strong bonds with his four sisters and their families, spending part of every summer under the same roof with them in Fenwick.  He enjoyed warm relationships with his wife’s family and was a valued friend and counselor to all his nieces and nephews.

A graceful skier, a dedicated golfer, and an avid cyclist, he took pleasure in introducing his children to his favorite sports.  He learned boating at a young age and felt at home on the water.   In later years he took up fly-fishing.  When these activities were precluded by his illness, he continued to enjoy reading, especially history; he was halfway through a biography of Lenin when he died.

He was also a talented photographer.  He leaves behind a rich archive documenting the adventures of his youth -- his year in Beirut, summers volunteering in a remote village in Quebec, a trip through Iran and Afghanistan in 1977 -- and the growth of his beloved children. 

Taysen is survived by his loving wife Jane; by his daughter Elizabeth Van Itallie and son Michael Van Itallie of Brooklyn, NY; by his sisters Lucy Borge (Robert Lombardo) of Quogue, NY; Tina Van Itallie (James Anderson) of Guilford, CT; Elizabeth Van Itallie (Glenn Morrow) of New York, NY; and Katharine Van Itallie (Lars Klove) of Peterborough, NH; by his nieces Caroline Keenan (Richard) of Ridgefield, CT; Emily Anderson (Jake Sandmann) of Guilford, CT; and Gina Morrow of Brooklyn, NY; and nephew Jackson Morrow of San Francisco, CA; and by his grandnieces and -nephews Zoe and Teddy Keenan and Hugo and Margot Sandmann; along with dear cousins from Maine to Arizona.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday October 19, 2021, at 1:00 pm at Trinity Church in Princeton.  It will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend; a link will be available on the Church website the day of the service.

Donations in Taysen’s memory may be made to Housing Initiatives of Princeton and Send Hunger Packing Princeton, two charities he admired.