Brigitte M. Bodenheimer (Levy)

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Brigitte Marianne Bodenheimer (Levy)

Birthdate: (68)
Birthplace: Berlin, Berlin, Brandenburg, Prussia, Germany
Death: January 07, 1981 (68)
Davis, Yolo County, California, United States
Place of Burial: Davis, CA, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ernst Levy and Marie Levy (Wolff)
Wife of Edgar Bodenheimer (J-L816)
Mother of Private User; Private User and Private User
Sister of Wolfgang Emanuel Levy

Occupation: Law Professor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Brigitte M. Bodenheimer (Levy)

In 2016, Rosemarie Bodenheimer wrote a book about her parents, called Edgar and Brigitte: A German Jewish Passage to America It chronicles their life and has many photos. Available from

Brigitte Marianne Bodenheimer


Wise teacher, distinguished family law, and conflicts scholar, gentle colleague--Brigitte Bodenheimer was a valued member of the King Hall community from 1966 until her death on January 7, 1981.

Born in Berlin in 1912 as Brigitte Marianne Levy, she grew up in Berlin, Frankfurt, Freiburg, and Heidelberg. She received her civil law education at Frankfurt, Munich, and Heidelberg and was awarded the J.U.D. from Heidelberg in 1934. Urged by her parents to leave Germany to avoid the impending crisis, she came to the United States even before her Heidelberg degree was awarded and promptly began a second legal education at Columbia. There she became re-acquainted with Edgar previous hit Bodenheimer , whom she had known briefly in Germany. In June 1935 they were married and together became students at the University of Washington School of Law, where Brigitte graduated in 1936.

During the next decade the family grew to include two sons and a daughter and moved to Washington, D.C., for six years, where Brigitte worked on problems of housing and urban redevelopment for the Federal Public Housing Authority. In 1947 the family moved to Salt Lake City where Edgar began his teaching career with the University of Utah. While there, Brigitte became active in a wide range of professional activities--as an attorney, as a special litigator for the State of Utah, as the drafter of retirement laws for teachers and public employees in Utah and Wyoming, and as the author of a highly regarded and still widely used manual for justices of the peace.

In Utah she also began her work in family and juvenile law, which was to become her most enduring legal contribution. She first worked with a citizen's group seeking to develop a marriage counseling service attached to the Utah divorce courts. Later--from 1960 to 1965--she chaired a state bar committee that drafted a far-ranging revision of the Utah juvenile court law, guiding this revision to a successful conclusion through several stormy legislative sessions.

Brigitte began to teach at the University of Utah in 1962. Two years later, when the University waived its nepotism rules, she was appointed Associate Professor. In 1966 she moved with Edgar to the University of California at Davis. Although she served from the beginning as a research member of the law faculty, her teaching career was interrupted until 1971 when the University of California in turn relaxed its rules on appointments from the same family. From 1972 until her retirement in 1979 she served as a full professor on the Davis faculty in the community property and family law fields. After retirement she remained fully active in her professional work.

Brigitte's love and respect for people were the cornerstones of her life and work. As a scholar, she was blessed with a brilliant mind, a distinguished heir to her distinguished parents--Ernest and Marie Levy. Her insights were swift and sure; her research impeccable; her writing always creative and constructive. Never strident, she was an activist, a reformer, and a feminist in the best sense of the terms. Brigitte's power lay in the force of her ideas, her quiet tenacity, and her sophisticated knowledge of people and institutions.

Her writings and international reputation accordingly reflect more than mere mastery of the law. They are a lasting tribute to her human qualities. Brigitte truly believed in the dignity of individuals and their capacity to do good. No Pollyanna, however, she also recognized human failings and the ways in which we are capable of harming ourselves and others.

One of Brigitte's central concerns was for children. For the California Law Revision Commission she completed studies on custody and adoption. As Reporter for the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, she tackled the problem of child snatching. Her efforts led to a Uniform Act now adopted in forty-five states. With imagination and daring she built a system that prevents an abducting parent from taking advantage of the child's new location by providing cooperation among the courts of different states and countries. Now, decisions once entered are honored elsewhere and parents must resolve their disputes in a way that is best for the child. As one of her colleagues stated, “of all the people concerned with the conflict of laws, Brigitte is the only one in recent years who actually did something to make things better.”

Her efforts in this field continued until her death, culminating with the enactment of the Parental Kidnaping Prevention Act of 1980 (a federal bill complementing the Uniform Act) and her service as U.S. delegate to the Hague Conference on Private International Law, which in 1980 adopted a Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. On the international as well as the national level she cast a commanding figure and both measures bear the mark of her expertise and efforts.

Brigitte's concern for the legal problems of families and children mirrored her concern for her own family and children. The daughter and wife of distinguished legal scholars, Brigitte wove together in rare fashion her personal and professional lives. Her years with Edgar and their children, Peter, Tom, and Rosemarie, were marked with deep personal satisfaction and accomplishment for each family member and with stimulating adventures and discussions. When Brigitte retired, Edgar reflected the vitality of their marriage when he said that some people might view forty-five years of marriage to the same woman as boring. “They, however,” he continued, “haven't lived with Brigitte.”

Her example inspired many. A student wrote, “her courage made me more courageous, her warmth made me more human, her kindness was appreciated and her smile made me glow.” Her legacy remains--in her children and grandchildren, her students and friends, and in her work.

Brigitte's life was rich, rewarding, and full, but she was never too busy to help someone, whether the problem was large or small, legal or personal. She brought true meaning to the words pro bono publico, and the number of people whom she aided both through her writing and through personal involvement is legion. We who knew this remarkable woman will forever treasure our memories of her gentle humor, her warmth, and her dignity.


About Brigitte M. Bodenheimer: Established in 1981 in memory of Professor Brigitte M. Bodenheimer, this endowed lecture brings scholars and practitioners to UC Davis School of Law to discuss recent developments affecting the family.

Professor Bodenheimer was an internationally renowned teacher, scholar, and reformer of the law. She is especially remembered for her work as Reporter of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), which was enacted in all 50 states, and for her service as a United States delegate in the drafting of the Hague Convention of October 25, 1980, on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Born in Berlin in 1913, Brigitte Bodenheimer received a doctorate of laws degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1934. She then studied at Columbia University and the University of Washington, where she received her second law degree in 1936. Following her graduation, she worked for the Federal Public Housing Authority in Washington, D.C. In 1947, she and her husband, Professor Edgar Bodenheimer, moved to Utah, where she undertook a broad range of professional and legislative tasks, including a far-ranging revision of the Utah juvenile court law. Professor Bodenheimer joined the law faculty of the University of Utah in 1962. In 1966, she moved to Davis with her family.

During her first years at UC Davis School of Law, she drafted the UCCJA and completed studies on child custody law and adoption law for the California Law Revision Commission. From 1972 until her retirement in 1979, she served as professor of law, teaching in the fields of family law and community property law. Professor Bodenheimer died in 1981.

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Brigitte M. Bodenheimer (Levy)'s Timeline

September 27, 1912
Berlin, Berlin, Brandenburg, Prussia, Germany