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Jerry Anker, lawyer

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Friday, February 25, 2011; 7:49 PM

Jerry Anker, 76, a lawyer who successfully argued against the D.C. public schools in a sweeping anti-discrimination case and went on to spend 20 years working for the Air Line Pilots Association, died Feb. 1 at his home in Bethesda. He had pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Anker began practicing law in Washington in 1958. For much of his career, he specialized in labor disputes and workers' rights, including two cases he argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He retired in 2006.

Mr. Anker was part of the legal team that represented District activist Julius Hobson against D.C. public schools Superintendent Carl Hansen in the late 1960s.

In the landmark case, Mr. Anker, along with William M. Kunstler and Herbert O. Reid Sr., argued that more than a decade after desegregation, the District's schools continued to discriminate against black students and poor students.

The lawsuit said that D.C. schools unfairly grouped students so that high-performing students were prepared for college while others students were tracked for vocational careers.

Mr. Anker and his colleagues won the lawsuit when U.S. Appeals Court Judge J. Skelly Wright ordered the establishment of a busing system, allowing students from overcrowded black schools to attend underenrolled white schools west of Rock Creek Park.

Hansen resigned after the school board refused to let him appeal the ruling.

Wolfgang David Anker was born to Jewish parents in what is now Gdansk, Poland. They moved to the United States in 1938, and he grew up in Modesto, Calif., where his parents gave him the American-sounding name Jerry.

He graduated from Harvard University in 1955, and he was a 1958 graduate of Harvard's law school.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Charlotte Lubin Anker of Bethesda; two children, Deborah Anker of Silver Spring and Daniel Anker of New York; a sister; a brother; and four grandchildren.

- T. Rees Shapiro


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