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Class of 1959

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Class Notes are posted in the order they are received, with the newest posts on top.

Do you have news you would like to share or just want to let everyone know what you are up to these days? Submit your class note online, email Class Notes or call 615-322-2606.

Richard Denmar Bird, 86,  died June 30, 2020, with his wife and children at his bedside. Read his full obituary here. Posted 12.2.20..

Jack Donald McNeil, age 87, died on Thursday, August 27, 2020, after a short battle with cancer. Read his full obituary here. Posted 12.2.20.

Gerald Hart Johnson of Cape Girardeau died Jan. 21, at his home at the age of 85. Read his full obituary herePosted 4.2.20

Fred P. Graham died December 28, 2019 at his home in Washington. He was 88. Read his full obituary herePosted 3.20.20

Kirk Waite died December 10, 2019. He was a resident of Goodlettsville, Tennessee. He attended MTSU and Vanderbilt Law School. He married Sue Ingram and served in the US Army Infantry Division of JAG and was stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas. Posted 3.13.20

David E. Nelson Jr. of Chattanooga, Tennessee, died Sept. 28. A U.S. Army veteran who served in both World War II and Korea, David earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, before attending law school. He was a partner in Wagner Nelson & Weeks and served on the boards of the Bonny Oaks Foundation and the Shriners Hospitals for Children. He is survived by a son. Posted 12.3.19

Edward Melvin Porter will have a bridge in northeast Oklahoma City dedicated in memory of him. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt held a ceremonial bill signing for the measure naming the Senator E. Melvin Porter Memorial Bridge. Read the full article here. Posted 8.2.19

Judge Howard Thomas Owens Jr. died April 3. Judge Owens earned his undergraduate degree from the College of the Holy Cross before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1958-1964, was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut from 1964-1968, and was a partner in Owens and Schine, later Owens, Schine, Nicola and Donahue, the law firm founded by his father. Judge Owens represented Bridgeport and Trumbull in the Connecticut State Senate from the old 22nd District, serving for six terms between 1975 and 1989. While in the State Senate, he served as Assistant Majority Leader, and as Chairman of both the Judiciary and Transportation Committees. He became a Judge of the Connecticut Superior Court in 1998. He presided in Hartford, New Haven, New Britain, Danbury, and Bridgeport, and also served in the Juvenile Court. He is survived by his wife, Ann, his four children and five grandchildren. Posted 4.24.18

William “Bill” T. Galloway Jr. (BA ’54) died January 20. He was 85. After graduating with his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt, Bill received a second Lieutenant commission through ROTC and served in the US Army counter intelligence corps on active duty in Japan and Korea. Following his service in the Army he returned to Vanderbilt to earn his law degree. He practiced law for 38 years as a partner with Lanier, Ford, Shaver and Payne in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2015 he moved to Destin, Florida to be closer to his family. He is survived by his three sons and grandson. Posted 1.29.18

Edward Melvin Porter, Oklahoma’s first African-American state senator, died July 26, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Read his complete obituary here. Posted 8.23.16

Edward Melvin Porter was recognized recently in the Oklahoma Senate chamber for his contributions and accomplishments in Oklahoma’s African American history. He was the first African American state senator in Oklahoma’s history. See an article highlighting the ceremony herePosted 5.15.15

Robert H. Weaver died February 3. He was 83. After graduating from the University of Mississippi, where he became active in the Naval ROTC and was awarded an ROTC scholarship, Bob was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy and served three years aboard both the USS Monterey and the USS New Jersey. After earning his law degree from Vanderbilt, Bob joined Watkins Pyle Edwards and Ludlam in Jackson, Mississippi, as the firm’s seventh lawyer. After 39 years and assisting in building the firm to more than 75 attorneys, he retired from legal practice. Bob is survived by his wife, Eleanor; three children; and six grandchildren. Posted 2.19.15

Barry Bertram is living in Campbellsville, Kentucky, where he continues to practice law, prosecuting as a part time assistant in the state prosecutor's office where he was elected to practice more than thirty years ago. He remembers with "great fondness" climbing the steps to Kirkland each day while at Vanderbilt Law School. Posted 1.18.13

David Earl Rodgers passed away on October 25, 2010. A skilled attorney with a knack for cutting straight to the heart of an issue, David guided the formation of the town of Farragut, Tennessee, fought for its right to exist and provided decades of guidance to its leaders before his death earlier this week. "There are very few lawyers who can honestly make the claim that their work resulted in the creation of a municipality, and even fewer who can say that their continued work defended the town's very existence, while at the same time helping it develop the procedures that make it a municipality," said Tom Johnson, managing partner with the Knoxville law firm of Kramer Rayson. A resident on the north side of what was then known as Campbell Station or Concord, Mr. Rodgers was one of the local residents who pushed for the incorporation of Farragut in 1980. "He wrote the ordinances that defined what was to become the town," said former town Mayor Eddy Ford. Rodgers also helped educate the first generation of town leaders as to their roles in local government, Ford said. "He was a great friend, and he provided extremely wise counsel," Ford said. It wasn't long before the fledgling municipality found itself mired in a series of legal battles with Knox County and Knoxville. Rodgers' skill in dealing with this litigation assured the survival of the town, Ford recalled. As town attorney for the next 23 years, he continually distinguished himself with both his passion and his legal skill, town leaders said. He also had a great influence on Tom Hale, a young attorney at Kramer Rayson who would become Farragut town attorney when Rodgers retired in 1999. "I learned a lot about what I know about the practice of law from him," Hale said. "He could cut to the heart of any matter in a way that most reasonable people would agree with him," Hale said. From 2004 until his death, Mr. Rodgers served on the town board of zoning appeals. He is survived by his wife, four sons and six grandchildren. Posted 11.3.10

Fred Graham received the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's first Reporters Committee Distinguished Service Award, which the 42-year-old nonprofit group will rename the Fred Graham Distinguished Service Award, before a crowd of more than 400 guests. Fred is one of the Reporters Committee's founders, a former Court TV anchor and New York Times U.S. Supreme Court correspondent. He was honored for his dedication to promoting government transparency and press freedom. Posted 10.8.12

Frederick T. Work passed away on September 13, 2010. Work was born in Nashville and grew up on the campus of Fisk University, where both his parents taught. After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School in 1959, he moved to Indiana where he worked as an attorney for the city of Gary. In 1963, Work opened his own law firm and five years later he became the first African American to be nominated by a major party for statewide office in Indiana. Work delved into numerous areas of law including civil and criminal trials, civil rights, real estate, employment and corporate law. He remained an active member of the legal community until his death. He is survived by his wife, Beverly, and two sons. Posted 9.15.10

R. Grattan Brown was among several Vanderbilt Law alumni who have been listed as "Best Lawyers in America" each year for the entire 25 years the listing has been published. Others including Bill Ozier '69, Ted Pappas '49, James Gooch '67, Jim Cheek '67, Jim Neal '57, Aubrey Harwell Jr. '71 and Mike Kaplan '71. Posted 6.17.09

Dewey C. Whitenton died February 12, 2009. Dewey earned both his B.A. and his J.D. at Vanderbilt. He served six years in the Army and the Tennessee National Guard. He practiced law in his home town of Bolivar, Tennessee, for more than 17 years and served as county attorney before his appointment to the bench as Chancellor Court Judge of the 25th Judicial District of Tennessee. He was active in the ABA's Judicial Division and the National Conference of State Trial Judges for more than 25 years, and served as Chairman of the task force on State Judicial Associations. He was appointed by the Tennessee State Legislature and the Governor to serve on a commission on the Uniform Probate Code, which recommended changes in Tennessee probate laws. He retired from the bench after 30 years of service in 2006, and after retirement, remained active as Bolivar City Attorney and as a Rule 31 mediator. Judge Whitenton was involved with numerous civic and charitable organizations in Bolivar and surrounding areas. He is survived by his wife, Carol Ann, their three children, and five grandchildren. Posted 3.3.09

Richard Tennent's novel, Destroyermen: Three Minutes to War, has just been published by Book Surge LTD, a subsidiary of Richard's book is a navy adventure set during the Suez Canal Crisis, the Hungarian uprising, and the struggle between the U.S. and Soviet Russian for domination of the Mediterranean Sea. Richard practiced law in the Detroit area for 40 years, focusing on banking, business and real estate law, and served briefly as an adjunct professor of law at Wayne State University School of Law in Detroit, where he taught senior-level classes addressing the Uniform Commercial Code, creditors' rights and real property financing. He met his wife, Patricia, at Vanderbilt, where she earned her nursing degree in 1956. The Tennents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August 2008. Richard and Patricia have three children and 10 grandchildren. Patricia, who served as a nurse at Harper Grace Hospital in Detroit and at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, continues to serve in Beaumont Hospital's Parenting Program. The Tennents live in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Posted 1.13.09

James G. "Jamie" Stuart died April 5, 2008, after a brief illness. A long-time Chicago-area resident, his law career included executive roles with Cox Enterprises and Field Enterprises. He served as chairman of Field Communications Corp. from 1977 to 1980 after serving for five years as its Executive Vice President. Beginning in 1988, he focused his practice on advising physicians on financial and business matters. As a law student, he served on the editorial staff of the Vanderbilt Law Review, and he earned an LL.M. in taxation from New York University in 1962. He served in the United States Air Force as a single-engine fighter pilot from 1955 to 1956, rising to the rank of Captain, and then served in the Tennessee Air National Guard from 1956 to 1959. Jamie was a dedicated performer playing the clarinet and served as a board member of the Chicago Chamber Musicians, as a governing member of the Chicago Symphony, and as president of Arts at Large. He completed the Mrs. T's Chicago Triathlon in 1997 at the age of 65. He is survived by his wife, Karen Zupko Stuart, and a son and a daughter.

William Jerry Parker, 74, died Friday, January, 19, 2007, following a brief illness. A lifelong resident of Bowling Green, he graduated from Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green College of Commerce, and Vanderbilt University Law School. Mr. Parker was admitted to the Kentucky and Tennessee Bars in 1959 and the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966. He was a member of HarlinParker Law Firm. He served on the Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors (1969-1982), as President of the Kentucky Bar Association (1980-1981), and as Chairman of the KBA Continuing Legal Education Commission (1983-89). He was also a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. In addition to his legal career, he was for many years a part-time instructor at Western. At his death, he was co-chairman of Albany Bancshares and on the board of directors of First National Bank of Columbia. He was an active Rotarian, serving as president of the Noon Rotary Club; District Governor for District 6710 of Rotary International; a Paul Harris Fellow; and national permanent fund advisor for The Rotary Foundation. Survivors include his wife, Eva Jane Martin Parker; two daughters, Jane Beth McCarty (Matt), of St. Louis, MO, and Jo Lynch (David) of Knoxville, TN; two sons, William Jerry Parker, Jr. (Claudia) of Colleyville, TX, and Frederick Smith Parker (Amy) of Charlotte, NC; and nine grandchildren Currin, Parker, John McCarty; Charlotte, Will, and Hayden Parker; Jack Lynch; and Alex and Libby Parker.

Bob Youngerman writes a weekly opinion column for The Asheville Citizen-Times in Asheville, North Carolina.