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Class of 1951

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(Notes posted in the order they were received, with the newest posts on top.)

William "Bill" T. Bringham died. He was 92. Bill attended Illinois Wesleyan where he was a Sigma Chi. During his college years, he joined the Navy and was station during World War II on the Palymra Island in the Pacific Theatre. After graduation, Bill  moved to Nashville to earn his law degree from Vanderbilt. He and his wife, Ruth, then moved to Falls Church, Virginia for service to the FBI. Following that, they moved to Chicago where he worked in the Trust Department at the Continental Bank. It was there that he got involved with local Sigma Chi’s and started a 36 year career with the Sigma Chi Fraternity, serving as CEO, and a 30 year career with the Sigma Chi Foundation. He is survived by his son, William Bringham Jr. and two granddaughters. Posted 10.17.18

Morris “Moe” Loew, died February 1. He was 90. Moe was a veteran of the United States Army having served in WWII. He earned his undergraduate degree from Western Kentucky University before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. Moe was a Warren County commonwealth attorney for 33 years and is remembered as the Dean of Prosecutors.  He is survived by his wife, George Anne Holland Loew, three children, 9 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Posted 2.21.17

Jerry B. Cullen of Jackson died October 26. He was 89. Jerry served in the United States Navy from June 1945 to August 1946 obtaining the rank of seaman first class. After the completion of his law degree in 1951, Jerry worked for the United States Fidelity company as a claim adjustor for 39 years, retiring in 1991.  Jerry is survived by his wife, Lucille Donnell Cullen, daughters, Kay and Anne, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Posted 11.28.16

Joseph S. Sims died January 3, 2016. He was 88. He attended Princeton University for his undergraduate degree before going on to earn his J.D. from Vanderbilt. Joe also served as a lieutenant in the Navy during the Korean War. He began work at First Tennessee in the Trust Department and retired as Vice-Chairman of the holding company. He is predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Vivian. Posted 1.27.16

Henry M. Beaty Jr. died August 20. He was 89. After military service during World War II, he attended Memphis State College, Southwestern at Memphis before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. He practiced law in Memphis for more than 40 years, served as a special judge in the courts of Shelby County, and he was also a city attorney for Germantown, Tennessee. He is survived by his two sons; two daughters; and several grandchildren. Posted 8.28.15

Sam H. Mann Jr. died July 24. He was 89. He died in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he was born and raised. Sam earned his undergraduate degree at Yale and then attended Vanderbilt Law before finishing his legal education at Florida School of Law. He focused his practice in trial law and was a managing senior partner with Greene, Mann, Rowe, Stanton, Mastry and Burton as well as a senior partner with Harris, Barrett, Mann and Dew. He was a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American and Florida Bar Foundations. He was also a member of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, the Defense Research Institute, the International Association of Defense Counsel, the Florida Defense Lawyers Association, the American Judicature Society, and the American Counsel Association. His court affiliations included The Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th and 11th Circuit Courts, U.S. District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, and the Florida Supreme Court and all Appellate, County and Circuit Courts. He is survived by his wife; daughter; and two sons. Posted 8.3.15

The Hon. Henry Denmark Bell (BA'49) died March 29. He was 89. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Denmark’s family moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he attended school before serving in the armed forces during World War II. After the war’s end, he returned to Nashville to complete his undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt before going on to earn his JD from the Law School. After passing the bar he founded a law firm with fellow classmates before joining Tyne, Sugg, and West. Later, Denmark opened a private practice and then served as judge on the 21st Judicial Circuit, covering Williamson, Hickman, Lewis and Perry counties. He is survived by his son, Madison Smartt Bell. Posted 4.26.15

Lt. WilliamLt. Col. William E. Lacy, 90, died May 19. Bill originally entered the military service after high school where he trained as a bomber pilot flying on the Douglas A-20. Following law school, he served as the head Judge Advocate on military bases all over the world, with numerous Strategic Air Command locations. Bill is survived by his wife of 67 years, Nancy; four children; and six grandchildren.

Andrew McConnico Gant Jr. (BA'49) died February 20, 2013 at the age of 86. Mac was a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt Law School, and served in the U.S. Navy. Mac practiced law in Nashville, served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and served as legal counsel for two insurance companies before moving to Birmingham, Alabama in 1964 to work in the legal department at Liberty National Life Insurance Co., from which he retired in 1985. He and his wife recently moved back to Franklin, Tennessee. In the third grade, Mac met the love of his life, Mary Taylor Williams. At the time of his death, they had been married 63 years. Mac was an active member of Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, where he served as an Elder, sang in the choir, and particularly enjoyed his long tenure as Head Usher. Mac's passion was the Boy Scouts of America. He served as a Scoutmaster for many years, with over 150 Scouts reaching the rank of Eagle during his leadership of Troop 86. Mac also served in a variety of Scouting roles on the unit, district, and council levels and received many awards, including the Silver Beaver award. He was also a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and the St. Andrew's Society. In addition to his wife, Mac is survived by four children; and ten grandchildren.

Judge James Thomas Martin Jr., who served for more than 16 years in New Mexico's Third Judicial District Court, died January 23, 2013 after a brief illness. He was 86. Judge Martin was born on August 16, 1926 in Nashville. During World War II he joined the U.S. Navy, serving aboard the USS Littlerock. After World War II, he earned his law degree at Vanderbilt, graduating in 1951. He moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 1953 and practiced law until July 1981, when he was recommended by the Doña Ana County Bar Association to become a district judge for New Mexico's Third Judicial District Court. He served on the bench for more than 16 years.

Judge Martin was known as being tough, but always fair. Judge Martin was elected in 1958 to the New Mexico House of Representatives. In 1969, he served in the New Mexico Constitutional Convention, which helped clarify and amend the state's Constitution. He also served on the state Board of Education, state Board of Economic Development and the New Mexico State Highway Commission.

Martin was an outdoor enthusiast who often took week-long horseback trips into the Gila Wilderness with friends, and also enjoyed hunting and deep sea fishing. He was also a firm believer in giving back to his community. He served on many boards, committees and was active in many charitable organizations. He especially enjoyed his time with the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Posse, and was an active member of the Masonic Lodge, and helped establish Jornada Lodge 70. Judge Martin is survived by his five children and four grandchildren. 

Paul Justice Sherwood, age 91, died November 29, 2012. Paul was a fourth generation attorney at law and the sole proprietor of Paul J. Sherwood Law Offices. He established the practice in 1952. He received his undergraduate degree from East Tennessee State University before he earned his legal degree from Vanderbilt Law School. He is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association, South Carolina Bar Association, American Bar Association, Trial Lawyers Association and the Washington County Bar Association. He has been admitted to practice before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Paul taught business law, income tax law, and community and corporate law at East Tennessee State University. He was a proud veteran, serving in the Army Air Force during World War II. Paul is survived by two sisters and several nieces and nephews.

J. Kenneth Wright J. Kenneth Wright died October 21, 2012 at his home. Ken practiced law for over 60 years in Kingsport. A decorated army veteran, he was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II and received a purple heart. While recuperating, he met a beautiful young southern lady who volunteered at Camp Pickett, Virginia, and Inez Breedlove soon became his wife. They were married over 60 years until her death in 2010. Ken loved to play golf and travel, and could rarely be seen without his trademark pipe in his mouth. An avid Dobyns-Bennett sports fan, he attended almost every game since his move to Kingsport in 1951. He was affectionately known as "The Sucker Man". He was preceded in death by his loving wife and infant daughter, Marsha Jan. Ken is survived by his daughter and two grandchildren.

Coppedge, Erle Wendell '51Erle Wendell Coppedge (BA'43) of Clarksville, Tennessee, died March 13, 2012. He was 86. Erle grew up in Stewart County, Tennessee. At Vanderbilt Law School, he was a member of Phi Delta Phi. He was a World War II veteran of the 398th Regiment of the U.S. 100th Infantry Division, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He served as vice president of business affairs at Austin Peay State University and was a retired certified public accountant. He is survived by three children; 11 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. Posted 4.30.12

Sen. Douglas S. Henry (BA '49) was presented with the Dr. Joe Nunley Memorial Award by Middle Tennessee State University. The award was part of the university's 30th annual Salute to Armed Services and Veterans Day events. Henry served as a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army during World War II and received the Philippine Independence Medal. Following his military service, Henry held numerous positions in public office during his 40-year career in state government. Posted 1.10.12

William "Bill" Allan Parsons died on November 10, 2011 after a brief illness. Bill was born in Vanceburg, Kentucky, in 1923. He attended University of Kentucky for one year before entering the Army Air Corps and serving as a pilot in the European Theater during World War II. After the war, he earned degrees from Peabody College and Vanderbilt Law School. He spent his career as a trial attorney in Nashville and also served as a Night Court judge. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Andrea Parsons. 

Mark Clyde Hicks Jr. died December 13, 2011, at his home in Johnson City, Tennessee. Originally from Sevierville, Tennessee, Mark served in the U.S. Navy before earning his undergraduate degree at East Tennessee State University and his law degree at Vanderbilt. He was a partner with Hicks Arnold Hayes & Sanders in Johnson City for 25 years and served as the Washington County Attorney for 18 years. Active in Washington County, he served on the Tri-City Regional Airport Commission for 35 years and the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee for 39 years. In 1984, he was a Presidential Elector. He also served on the Johnson City Medical Center Board, the Johnson City Power Board, The Republican National Committee, the Tennessee Historical Commission and the Board of Directors for First Tennessee Bank. He was a member of the American Legion, Sons of the Revolution, Johnson City Rotary Club and the ETSU Foundation.He is survived by two children, a son and a daughter, and a large extended family.

Lucile Cate Spain (BS '38, MA '39) died in New Braunfels, Texas, on December 22, 2010. She was 92. She was the Founder's medalist for the undergraduate class of 1938. She was predeceased by her husband, David S. Spain, also a member of the Class of 1938. Lucile is survived by her brother, George Cate, Jr. (BA '49, LLB '51), who was the Founder's medalist for the Vanderbilt Law School Class of 1951. She was predeceased by her brother, Dr. Robert L. Cate, who graduated from the Vanderbilt School of Engineering ('54), after which he was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and entered into a career of ministry and teaching.

Richard "Dick" J. Beamish III died October 19, 2010, in Coral Springs, Florida. He was 82. Born in 1927 in Philadelphia, he was a World War II veteran and was a sports reporter for the Tennessean while attending law school at Vanderbilt University. He raised his family in Miami and practiced law in Dade and Broward counties until a disabling illness ended his career at age 52. He lived on in happiness for 30 years and never raised a complaint about his disabilities and always had good things to say about friends and family. He was a humorous man who always looked at the glass of life as being half full. Dick is survived by his wife Kathleen; his six children; a stepson; a brother; six grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

John L. Bowers Jr., (B.A.1950) of Elizabethton, Tennessee, died on September 23, 2010 at home. He was 86. John graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vanderbilt before earning his J.D. Order of the Coif. John was the senior partner of the Elizabethton law firm of Allen Nelson and Bowers, where he practiced for nearly 18 years. He was the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee from 1969-77, and he served as mayor of the City of Elizabethton for two terms. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps. John is survived by a daughter, two sons, six grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

Richard Henry Harrison, long-time Coffee County attorney and former Coffee County commissioner, died November 11, 2008 at his Manchester home after a long illness. He was 81. A native of Murfreesboro, he received a B.S. from MTSU before earning his law degree at Vanderbilt University. He served in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves. Richard practiced law in both Tullahoma and Manchester, Tennessee. For several years in Tullahoma he was a law partner with the late J.O. McMahan, former commissioner of public welfare in the Gov. Gordon Browning administration. More recently, he was associated with the firm of Harrison and Kirkpatrick in Manchester. A Manchester city attorney in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Richard also served on the Coffee County Library Board and in the early 1970s, on the Coffee County Commission. From 1969 to 1972 he was treasurer of PLAN (Public Library Action Now), a fundraising effort that resulted in the construction of the current Manchester branch of the Coffee County Public Library. Long active in Democratic party politics, he was appointed Coffee County co-manager of the gubernatorial campaign of former Chattanooga Mayor Rudy Olgiati in 1962. Richard is survived by his two sons, Richard H. Harrison II of Longwood, Florida, and David J. Harrison of Manchester.

John Leslie Shelburne, Jr., 83, of San Antonio, Texas, died July 15, 2007, at the Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. He was born July 14, 1924, in Garland, Texas, to John Leslie Shelburne, Sr. and Martha Eddie Shelburne. After graduating from Mineola High School in Mineola, Texas, he served as LTJG in the United States Navy during World War II. He received his B.A. from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he was President of the Student Body, and his law degree from Vanderbilt University. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Frances Graves Shelburne, a daughter and son-in-law, Marcie and Evan Stanley, two sons and a daughter-in-law, Dr. John G. Shelburne and Michael L. and Leslie Shelburne and grandson, Carter Stanley. After graduation from Vanderbilt, he entered the service of the Federal Bureau of Investigation where he served for 25 years in leadership capacities until his retirement in Memphis, Tennessee. He retired to Laurel where he lived for 22 years. He served in many leadership roles at First United Methodist Church and was active in Cursillo, the Christian Food Mission and Crime Stoppers.

Sydney Keeble, a longtime senior official with Life & Casualty Insurance in Nashville, died January 25, 2007 at home at the age of 78. Sydney spent much of his career and later life heavily involved in philanthropy. Charities and institutions that can claim his support over the years include the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee, the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, various Catholic charities and Vanderbilt University. Additionally, he was a former president of Belle Meade Country Club. "He was truly a great community supporter," said longtime friend Ed Nelson, former CEO of Nashville's Commerce Union Bank. "He was a great sportsman and had a fabulous sense of humor. The public will miss him greatly." Sydney is survived by his wife Sheila, son Patrick, and daughters Grace and Anne.

Shelby Wyatt Smoot, 81, of Kingsport, Tennessee, passed away January 17, 2007, at Indian Path Hospital in Kingsport. He was born in Decatur, Alabama, and was a son of the late Anne Boyd Peques and Shelby Wyatt Smoot. Mr. Smoot served in the Armed Forces with the 281st Engineer Combat Battalion - ETO. He practiced law until 2005. He was a very caring person who loved to help people with their legal problems.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers, Omer Smoot and an infant brother, Willie Smoot; three sisters, Viola Smoot Plemons, Dorothy Smoot McDavid, and Margie Smoot Homa. He is survived by his loving wife, Marywood House Smoot; two daughters, Sherrie Smoot Farmer and husband Ken, Kathy Smoot Clauson; one brother, Thomas Smoot and wife Mary; one sister, Gloria Smoot Nettles and husband Sam; 10 grandchildren, Sarah, Bethany, Benjamin, Hannah, Jackson, Isaac, and James Farmer, Schuyler, Austin Shelby and Lindsay Clauson; faithful friend, his dog, Miss Sadie.

David D. Rutherford of Brentwood, Tennessee died August 20, 2005 at Vanderbilt Medical Center after an extended illness. A long-time Nashville Lawyer and author, Mr. Rutherford was the senior member of the Rutherford Law Offices, where he had practiced law during his entire legal career. His law firm traces its roots to 1890, when his uncle, Alfred G. Rutherford, opened a law office in Nashville. Survivors include his son, David Clyde Rutherford, Jr.; his daughters, Cheryl Lin Rutherford and Cynthia Lea Rutherford; his grandchildren, Christopher David Rutherford and lan Michael Rutherford. Mr. Rutherford was preceded in death by his brothers and law partners, Charles H. Rutherford, Jr. and James W, Rutherford, as well as by another brother, Alfred G. Rutherford, who served many years as Circuit Court Clerk of Davidson County, and Frank D. Rutherford, educator; two sisters, Mrs. J. Vaulx Crockett (Katheryn) and Mrs. P. L. DeMarco (Jeanne); brother, Joseph H. Rutherford, contractor; and nephew, J. William Rutherford, who was a Davidson County Circuit Court Judge at the time of his death in 1978. Three other nephews are active in the Rutherford Law Offices at this time, and another nephew, Thomas S. Rutherford, is an attorney in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Rutherford also leaves a host of other nephews and nieces, as well as many great nieces and nephews, and he was always very proud of them.

After his graduation from East Nashville High School in 1941, Mr. Rutherford volunteered for the Merchant Marines. Following service during World War II, he received his undergraduate education at Peabody College, then entered Vanderbilt Law School, where he was President of the student body during his third year. Upon graduation from law school, he became Congressional Secretary for U.S. Senator Albert Gore, Sr. and worked in Washington, DC for two years, until he returned to Nashville to enter law practice.

A former President of the Nashville Bar Association, Mr. Rutherford was the Author of Bench and Bar, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee - a history of the creation of the courts of Tennessee, in the days before Tennessee obtained statehood, and of their operation until the present time. His passion for Nashville legal history made him the dean of Nashville legal historians, according to Senior United States District Judge Thomas A. Higgins, who said that Mr. Rutherford also was well-known for his frequent gifts to other lawyers of fresh eggs from his own chickens. Perhaps his most satisfying legal victory was a decision of the Supreme Court of Tennessee requiring the City of Oak Hill to grant First Christian Church a permit to build Franklin Road Academy, after refusing to grant same initially, according to Ralph DeMarco, a nephew and one of Mr. Rutherford's law partners, who said that Mr. Rutherford's law practice included a broad range of trial and appellate work.

During his World War II service as a crew member of a U.S. Army transportation ship, Mr. Rutherford crossed the English Channel 26 times, delivering gasoline to ports in Belgium and France, according to DeMarco. He later was appointed Judge Advocate of the American Merchant Marine Veterans and served 35 parliamentarian at its national conventions, DeMarco said. He received Honorable Discharges from the U.S. Merchant Marine, as well as the U.S. Army Transportation Corp. Mr. Rutherford was baptized at the Edgefield Baptist Church and later served as a deacon there, also serving as a Sunday school teacher. He later was a Member of the First Baptist Church and First Christian Church. He is a former Member of Edgefield Masonic Lodge, Al Menah Temple, Bluegrass Country Club and Brentwood Country Club. He is a fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation and of the Tennessee Bar Foundation. He was also a Member of the American Bar Association and of the American Legion. 

Frank Joseph Romeo passed away on December 29, 2005. Mr. Romeo was a Commercial Mortgage Banker for many years and was with Hancock Mortgage and Equitrust Mortgage in Gulfport, Miss., before moving to Lafayette in 1991. He continued his mortgage banking and real estate career until his retirement. Mr. Romeo served in the U.S. Army during World War II in the European Theatre. He was a member of St. Pius X Catholic Church and a Fourth Degree Knight with the St. Pius Knights of Columbus Council 8901.


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