Administrative Office of Courts
98th Bar Memorial Service honors deceased lawyers
Judges, lawyers, friends and family gathered in the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the Capitol on Tuesday to pay tribute to 55 Mississippi lawyers who died during the previous year. The memorial service, which included the lighting of a candle as each name was read, was the 98th to honor deceased members of the bar.
Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr., who presided, said, "The Supreme Court of the state of Mississippi is extremely proud to be a part of the ceremony today and on behalf of the Court, we thank each of you family members for the sacrifices that your loved ones have made on behalf of this great bar."
Mississippi Bar President Charles J. Swayze Jr. of Greenwood in his eulogy noted that their legal careers spanned as long as 67 years and as short as 15. "Because of their lives, this place that we call home was much better than when we arrived. There are those who advanced justice in the legislature, prominent civic leaders, two past Bar presidents, one past president of the Mississippi Bar Foundation, a longtime member of the University of Mississippi faculty, judges who administered our court system and those who dedicated their lives to providing sound, competent advice and counsel to everyday working citizens. We remember lawyers who served their communities as Sunday School teachers, as scout leaders, as Little League coaches and in so many other civic capacities. In short, we remember great lawyers and great Americans whose talent, time and energy contributed greatly to our profession and our communities."
Swayze said, "We all owe an obligation to them to continue their efforts on behalf of this great profession and those we represent. We call upon every lawyer in the state of Mississippi to especially honor their memories with the rededication to the oath we all took upon admission to the practice of law and the rededication to the principles of professionalism that were so well exemplified."
Memorial Committee Chair John G. Corlew of Jackson read a resolution which said, in part: "It is our prayer that in remembering their lives we will be inspired by their example and strengthened to carry on the honorable pursuit of equal justice under the law with dedication and commitment."
Supreme Court Justice Michael K. Randolph of Hattiesburg, in a response for the Court, recalled some of the dead. "From the Coast, I I vividly remember Judge James Thomas, who I worked with and under. And who could forget the integrity and steadfastness of Bill Dukes? Or who could match the courtroom skills or the laughter and joy given to all by Boyce Holleman? From the Central District, I offer tribute to my friend George Hewes III, who served the bar and his community so well. One of the first practicing attorneys I ever encountered was John McLaurin, affectionately known as 'Long John.' And I first met Erskine Wells when he came to speak at the law school when I was a student. From the Northern District, I miss my good friend and classmate Bill Cook, and Tom Mason, a professor and mentor extraordinaire."
Justice Randolph said, "Those we honor today cover the spectrum of the legal practice in our state, from solo country practitioners to senior partners in some of Mississippi's largest law firms. We honor professors and practitioners, lawyers who were judicious and also honorable jurists. Some had long, distinguished legal careers. Yet others' careers were cut short before they fully blossomed. All upheld the highest standards of our profession: dignity, honor, integrity and sacrifice."
Here is a list of the deceased attorneys who were honored: