Supreme Court, Mississippi Bar conduct memorial service

October 12, 2022

Judge Deborah Gambrell Chambers receives Judicial Excellence Award

The Mississippi Supreme Court and the Mississippi Bar on Oct. 11 honored the lives and service of 68 lawyers who died during the past year. The annual Bar Memorial Service was held in the En Banc Courtroom at the Gartin Justice Building in Jackson, Chief Justice Mike Randolph presiding.

The Preamble of the Mississippi Constitution reads “We, the people of Mississippi in convention assemble, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking his blessing on work, do ordain and establish this constitution.” Consistent with our Constitution, Chief Justice Randolph recognized The Very Rev. Kyle Dice Seage, rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, who gave a moving invocation.

The Court next recognized Mississippi Bar President Blake Teller, who in his eulogy recalled lawyers he knew personally and those he knew by reputation. He recalled the longest serving lawyers, fellow Vicksburg attorney Lucius Dabney and Robert B. Deen Jr. of Meridian, who were both admitted to the Mississippi Bar in 1949. He recalled Dabney’s warm smile, hearty handshake and words of wisdom. “And like each of the others I knew personally on this list, I admired the contributions and service to clients and to the profession and, very importantly, to our community.”

Teller said, “Their passing leaves a void that each of us here today should strive to fill – by honoring them and their many contributions to the preservation of society and to the system of justice....Let us pay tribute to those we honor today by renewing our dedication to the ideals of our profession – integrity, civility, professionalism, civic responsibility, compassion, excellence.”

The Court called upon Will Manuel, chair of the Bar Memorial Service Committee, to read a resolution, which recognized that some of the departed gave decades of service, while the careers of others were cut short. All were remembered for the profound impact each had on the pursuit of justice and upholding the rule of law.

Chief Justice Randolph called upon Presiding Justice Jim Kitchens, to provide a response to the resolution on behalf of the entire court. Justice Kitchens stated, “Today's roster of 68 invaluable members of the Mississippi Bar contains the names of women and men who helped provide the glue that holds the American system of justice together. They went about doing good; they went about helping people.”

The session was adjourned after Rev. Seage delivered the benediction.

The following were recognized for their public service: Retired Municipal Judge Jerry Bustin of Forest, District Attorney John Champion of Senatobia, retired Circuit Judge R. Kenneth Coleman of New Albany, U. S. Magistrate Judge John C. Gargiulo of Gulfport, retired Chancellor William L. Grist of Vardaman, Circuit Judge George M. Mitchell Jr. of Eupora, retired Interim U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division James B. Tucker of Jackson, retired Circuit Judge and Supreme Court Magistrate Jack B. Weldy of Hattiesburg and retired Assistant Attorney General Marvin L. “Sonny” White Jr. of Jackson.

Others memorialized were Milton F. Anton, Brandon; Buren T. Batson, Jr., Lexington; William M. Beasley, Tupelo; Deborah Lee Bradley, Houston, Texas; Meagan C. Brittain, Madison; James E. Brown, Jr., Starkville; Monique Brown-Barrett, Jackson; Jennifer C. Burford, Birmingham; Tom P. Calhoun III, Greenwood; Samuel S. Creel, Laurel; Lucius B. Dabney, Jr., Vicksburg; Ralph M. Dean, Oxford; Robert B. Deen, Jr., Meridian; James K. Dukes, Petal; John Arthur Eaves, Jackson; Stephen C. Edds, Ridgeland; Charles P. Fortner, Jr., Eupora; John P. Fullenwider, Oxford; Gerald A. A. Gafford, Oxford; Gerald Gaggini, Tupelo; Wilfred W. Geisenberger, Natchez; Eugene B. Gifford, Jr., Booneville; Samuel S. Goza, Canton; Prentiss M. Grant, Brandon; Dewitt T. Hicks, Jr., Columbus; Jere R. Hoar, Oxford; L. C. James, Ridgeland; Dana E. Kelly, Jackson; Don P. Lacy, Raymond; Hugh M. Love, Jr., Yazoo City; Thomas J. Lowe, Jr., Jackson; William O. Luckett, Jr., Clarksdale; William L. Mathews, Vicksburg; Burwell B. McClendon, Jr., Jackson; Gerald A. McGill, Pensacola; Jo Anne M. McLeod, Ridgeland; Lindsey C. Meador, Cleveland; George O. Miles, Gulfport; David F. Myers, Hattiesburg; James S. Nippes, Madison; Daniel J. O’Beirne, Natchez; Thomas J. O’Beirne, Natchez; Billy N. Owen, Blue Mountain; Roy O. Parker, Tupelo; Edward P. Peacock IV, Clarksdale; Matthew L. Pepper, Spring, Texas; Jerry B. Read, Gulfport; Joanne S. Samson, Jackson; Tom B. Scott III, Jackson; C. Stevens Seale, Hattiesburg; Daniel P. Self, Jr., Meridian; Brandi S. Shafer, Tupelo; George M. Snellings IV, Monroe, La.; William E. Spell, Sr., Clinton; Robert N. Stockett, Jr., Madison; Thomas W. Tardy III, Madison; Davey L. Tucker, Ridgeland; Michael C. Ward, Nesbit; and James O. Webber, Brandon.