In Memoriam: Rhoda Karpatkin

The New York City Bar Association mourns the passing of Rhoda Karpatkin, a longtime member who joined the Association in 1957. She served on and chaired  many committees, including, most significantly, the Consumer Affairs Committee in the early 1970s. That’s around the time she became Executive Director of Consumer’s Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, where she had served as Counsel for 16 years. The first woman to hold that position, she doubled the magazine’s circulation to 4.3 million. Along with figures like Ralph Nader, she led the consumer rights movement that blossomed in the 70s and used her platform to press for a single-payer health care system. 

For the International Human Rights Committee, she went on a mission to Turkey for a report on the Turkish legal system’s response to Torture. Her private law practice included extensive work on school reform, including serving as Special Counsel for Decentralization for the NYC Board of Education and serving as Member and Chair of Community School Board 3.  

She graduated from Yale Law in 1953 with her late husband, Marvin M. Karpatkin, and the two are thought to have been among the first husband/wife members of the City Bar; and she and her daughter, Deborah Karpatkin, are thought to have been among the first mother/daughter members.