Vanderbilt Law School Background Image

Class of 1961

Facebook Like

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, e-mail Class Notes or call 615-322-2606.

George H. Nafziger, 85, of Springfield, passed away on Sunday, November 21, at his home. He is survived by his wife, Rita Gooch, and his son, Philip
(Terri) Nafziger. George loved to travel, especially to Sanibel Island. He enjoyed learning and reading about all kinds of history. Read his full obituary herePosted 12.13.21

Stanley Ruby died Saturday, January 2, 2021. Read his full obituary here. Posted 8.27.21

Leon Burrow, age 85 of Blytheville, Arkansas, formerly of Milan, passed away May 15, 2021. He was a former deputy prosecutor and practiced law in Blythewille until his death. Mr. Burrow was a 32nd degree mason and a member of the AI Chymia Shrine Temple, past president of the Blytheville Bar Association and the Mississippi County Bar Association. Read full obituary here. Posted 5.2021

Walton Thomas Conn, Sr., age 90, of Nashville, TN, died November 10, 2020. He was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church for 53 years, where he served as a deacon and in a number of other capacities. He loved history and was a member of a number of historical societies including the Sons of the American Revolution and the Kentucky Historical Society. He was an avid fan of Vanderbilt basketball, having been a season ticketholder since 1968. You can read his full obituary here. Posted 2.11.21

Robert Covington, professor of law emeritus, died at his home November 29, 2020. He joined the Vanderbilt Law faculty immediately after earning his law degree. Covington accepted an offer to join the Vanderbilt law faculty permanently after his fellowship year ended and taught labor and employment law for 46 years until his retirement in 2007. In addition to his recognized expertise in labor law, he also published books and articles on evidence, insurance, legal method and legal education over the course of his distinguished academic career. Read more here. Posted 1.25.21

Robert E. Banker "Bob" 85, a longtime trial attorney in Tampa, died peacefully on Monday, April 27, 2020. Bob had many wins in the courtroom. Notable successes include representing New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in his battles with Major League Baseball, and defending Learjet in a multimillion dollar wrongful death suit after a crash that killed pro golfer Payne Stewart. Bob's greatest joy was his family. He delighted in his beloved children, and his six precious granddaughters. Read his full obituary here. Posted 9.25.20

Nathan James Harsh, prominent Gallatin, Middle Tennessee Attorney, antiquarian, and civil liberties champion, died on Friday, April 10, 2020 at age 82, having practiced law in Gallatin, Tennessee since August 1961. Read his full obituary here. Posted 9.23.20

Judge Larry Barkley Creson, Jr. (BA’58). of Memphis, Tennessee, died July 2. Larry served in the Air National Guard, and practiced law for 14 years before he was appointed an administrative law judge hearing Social Security disability cases. He retired in 2017 after 42 years. A talented artist, he drew the covers for Vanderbilt football programs and, later, political cartoons for the Memphis Business Journal. Larry helped pioneer soccer as a sport in Memphis and published The Simple Soccer Book. He was an Eagle Scout and a champion handball player. He is survived by his wife, Elaine Boyer Creson, and two daughters. Posted 12.3.19

Neil Papiano died February 14, in Arcadia, California. He was 85.  Neil worked for Oscar Trippett, predecessor law firm to Iverson, Yoakum, Papiano & Hatch, until his retirement in 2014. He was best known for representing many high profile clients in the entertainment industry, including Jimmy Nederlander, Sr., the Nederlander Organization, Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Joan Collins, Walter Matthau, and Sondra Locke. Neil rounded off his practice by representing corporations, including American Airlines, Lockheed-Martin Corporation, DFS Duty Free Shops, Bridgestone-Firestone Tires, U.S. Steel, Bristol Myers, the Coca-Cola Company, and other business entities in corporate and civil litigation matters including Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California.  Posted 2.20.19

Joe H. Mount died April 13. He was 82. In the late 1940’s he enlisted in the Florida National Guard and then the U.S. Army in 1954, before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. He practiced law in diverse legal fields for over fifty years, many of them as a private, federal, or county attorney in Florida before moving to Manchester, Vermont. At the time of his death he had retired from the Immigration & Customs Enforcement Bureau of the Department of Homeland Security in Williston, Vermont. He is survived his wife of 61 years, Jan, five children and five grandchildren. Posted 4.24.18

Percy Wilkins Jr. of Nashville died March 3. He was 83. Percy received his undergraduate degree from East Carolina College. While still in college, Percy married Virginia Ann Reed on Bride and Groom, a nationally televised show on NBC. He received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force and entered pilot training in 1955. Percy was later assigned to Sewart Air Force Base in Smyrna where he worked in the Information Services Office with duties in publications, publicity and community relations. In 1957, he accompanied the troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to integrate Central High School. On release from military service, he entered Vanderbilt Law School and began practicing in Murfreesboro in 1961. In 1963, he moved his practice to Nashville and until his retirement in 2004, practiced real estate law. During his last 21 years practicing law, he was in partnership with his daughter, Christy, as Wilkins & Ivey, Attorneys. Percy is survived by his wife, two daughters and four granddaughters. Posted 3.22.17

Judge Ed Butler was among the winners of the Texas Genealogical College's Texas Hall of Fame Class of 2016 for his work in genealogical studies. Judge Butler has served as a judge at the city, county, state and federal levels.  In his 30 year career as an SAR leader, he was the founder of both the Laredo and Boerne, TX SAR chapters and both the Mexico and Spain SAR societies.  He was also the founder of the Texas Genealogical College. Posted 11.28.16

Judge Edward Franklyn Butler Sr. has written a book, Galvez: Spain—Our Forgotten Ally in the American Revolutionary War (2015, Southwest Historical Press) that highlights Spain’s key role in assisting the United States during the Revolutionary War. Ed is a retired U.S. administrative law judge and lives near San Antonio, Texas. Posted 7.8.15

Lawrence M. Magdovitz (BA’59) of Clarksdale, Mississippi, died May 24. He was 77 years old. A native of Clarksdale, Mississippi he briefly worked in Kentucky after law school before returning home to open the Law Offices of Lawrence Magdovitz in 1962. His law practice spanned 52 years. While he was respected for his legal skills, his true talent lay in the real estate business. Until the day he died, Lawrence was a licensed attorney in Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, and a residential contractor and real estate broker in Mississippi. He bought his first rental house in Clarksdale when he was just 16, using money saved from working at his family’s department store. After his return to Clarksdale in 1962, he began buying rental homes; at one time he owned over 200 homes in Clarksdale. In 1980s, he bought a small commercial building leased to the U.S. Postal Service in Dundee, Mississippi; by 2002, he had amassed a portfolio of several hundred post offices and was second only to the Postal Service itself in the number of post office buildings he owned. In 2010, he bought a Dollar General building, after which he put together another portfolio of commercial real estate. He gave generously to the Boy Scouts and the Institute for Southern Jewish Life and created the Lawrence M. & Kerin C. Magdovitz Foundation. A devoted family man, he married Kerin Northrup Coffey in 1972. Kerin died in 1994; he is survived by their two children and four grandchildren. Posted 6.22.15

Charles Edward Weis Jr. died October 26. He was 78 years old. Charles received his PhD from Arizona State University and taught at Tennessee State University for more than 30 years in the business department. He is survived by five children. Posted 11.4.14

George Salo Stern (BA'59) died July 2. He was 77. George was a prominent family law attorney, active community leader and philanthropist, mentor, scholar, world traveler, sports fanatic, husband, father, Opa and friend to all. Born in Brussels, Belgium in 1937, he immigrated with his parents to Nashville in 1941. George practiced law in Atlanta for 50 years, most of which specializing in family law in the practice he founded, Stern and Edlin. From 1998-1999, he was the National President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He was the Treasurer of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers from 1991 to 2012, having founded the organization's U.S. chapter. He was one of only 100 members of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers. In 2012 George received The Jack P. Turner Award from the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia for his outstanding contribution and achievement in the area of family law for the past 50 years. Most recently, the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers created the George S. Stern Achievement Award and honored him as the first recipient of an award that will recognize the recipient's accomplishments in the practice of family law. His first wife died in 2000. He is survived by his second wife, Margie Okun, and a large extended family. 7.24.14

The Rev. John E. Hibbard (BDiv'58) died May 7, following a brief battle with cancer. He graduated from Berea Academy then served as a Naval Medical Corpsman attached to the U.S. Marines in World War II. He received his undergraduate degree from Johnson University, Knoxville, before earning his degrees in law and divinity from Vanderbilt. Rev. Hibbard was an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He served student pastorates in Kentucky and Tennessee and was minister of the Eastwood Christian Church in Nashville for 6 years and the First Christian Church of the Beaches for 43 years. After retiring in 2002, he served as interim pastor at the historic First Christian Church of Tampa. He was a long time Rotarian, president of Beaches Rotary, a founding member of Rotary Sunset in Ponte Vedra, and a Paul Harris Fellow. A member of various ministers associations, a founding member of Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry, and for 15 years, was the volunteer chaplain of the early Beaches Hospital. He was a member of Beaches Historical Society and the Ponte Vedra, Marsh Landing, and Sawgrass Clubs. He loved golf and was a founding member of the Saturday Morning DewSweepers at the Ponte Vedra Club. Rev. Hibbard is survived by his wife, Marianne Permenter Hibbard (MA'65); two daughters; a son; and three grandsons. Posted 5.27.14

John R. Fawcett died January 30. He practiced law in New York City and was legal counsel for the sale of Fawcett Publications to CBS in 1976. After retiring from law practice, he moved to Avon, Colorado, where he served on the town council and was mayor from 1996-98. John is survived by his life partner, Helen-Ann Comstock; and four children. Posted 2.14.14

Henry Von SuttonHenry Von Sutton of Memphis, Tennessee, died February 27. He was 80. After a brief stint at Lambuth College, he volunteered for the Navy, serving aboard a destroyer during the Korean War. Discharged as a petty officer 1st class in 1955, he earned his undergraduate degree at Memphis State before earning his law degree at Vanderbilt, where he was a member of the Delta Theta Phi legal fraternity. He was co-chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and elector of the Electoral College. While running for U.S. Congress in 1966, he claimed “for every American the right to equal citizenship under the law-equality at the polls, equality at work, equality and fairness in all human dealings. This right, this equality is required not only by the law, but by basic human morality." He was married to the love of his life, Doris Seymour Sutton, for 55 years. He is survived by three sons; a daughter; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Posted 4.30.12

The Hon. Don A. Foster passed away January 15 after a lengthy struggle with cancer. Don served his country from 1952 to 1954 in the U.S. Army in Korea; he was awarded the Korean Service Medal. In 1957 he graduated from SIU Carbondale with a degree in Zoology. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Vanderbilt Law School in 1960. Upon graduation, he returned to Ridgway and practiced law. In 1962 he was elected Gallatin County Judge. Two years later he was appointed Associate Circuit Judge, and became a Circuit Judge in 1970. He served the citizens of Gallatin County and the Second Circuit for more than 46 years until his retirement in 2008. He is survived by his wife, brother, four daughters, and seven grandchildren. Posted 1.19.12

Alfred H. Knight, prominent Nashville attorney, died October 10, 2011, at the age of 74. Alfred fought for decades to open government to the press and public. For decades, those who needed help were media outlets including The Tennessean and organizations like the Society of Professional Journalists, which awarded Mr. Knight with its highest accolade, the First Amendment Award, in 1984. While Alfred's approach to the law was in his words, “simple,” his accomplishments were monumental, colleagues, family members and former clients said. He helped write laws that require government meetings and records to be open and that protect Tennessee journalists from being forced to disclose information obtained during news gathering. He won cases that forced federal prosecutors to disclose basic information concerning arrests and that led the state legislature to expressly prohibit public bodies from voting by secret ballot. Alfred also authored The Life of the Law: The People and Cases that Have Shaped Our Society, from King Alfred to Rodney King which won the 1997 Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. He is survived by his sons, his first wife and two grandchildren. His second wife, Ruth Sweet, died of cancer in 1998.

Collis H. White Sr. died March 5, 2010. Collis served as District Attorney in Orange County, Florida. Starting in 1976, he spent the remainder of his career in private practice, focusing on real estate law. He retired in 2006. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean Conflict. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Gladys G. White, and four children. Posted 3.27.10

David Louis Simpson III died May 23, 2009, in Memphis. He began his practice of law in Memphis as an assistant city attorney. He was an associate with Larkey Dudley Blanchard and McRae. In 1968 he joined the legal department at Conwood Corporation, where he became Secretary and General Counsel. He retired from Conwood in 2001 after 33 years. David served on the Board of the Memphis Pink Palace for a number of years, acting as its legal counsel and was instrumental in obtaining the museum's IMAX Theater. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Beth, their three children, and six grandchildren.

Judge Jonathan J. Robertson II died October 13, 2008, at his home. Jonathan served in United States Army and then earned a bachelor of science degree from Indiana University in 1954. He served as senior judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals 1971-1997, chief judge of Indiana Court of Appeals 1975-1978, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge 1965-1970, counsel to Indiana General Assembly's House of Representatives 1963, Jackson County prosecuting attorney 1963-1964, and was in private law practice in Seymour from 1961-1964. He is survived by his wife, Virginia Bundy, two sons, a daughter and four grandchildren.

Jon Rickert died June 9, 2008, at his home in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Jon earned his undergraduate degree in business and economics in 1958 from Indiana University, and after earning his law degree at Vanderbilt, he began his 30-year career in the general practice of law in Elizabethtown. From 1968-1972, he served with distinction in the Kentucky General Assembly, representing the 25th District. He was not only voted by the news media as the most outstanding freshman legislator, but he also led the fight in Kentucky's state capital, Frankfort, and in Washington, D.C. to save the Red River Gorge. A dedicated birder and naturalist, Jon wrote the Nature Preserves Act, which established the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, and he served as its chairman from 1976-1988. He acted as special advisor on environmental affairs to Kentucky Governor Julian Carroll and was a member of the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission. In 1973, he was a founding member of the American Birding Association and he also served as the organization's attorney. In 1978, he wrote and published A Guide to North American Bird Clubs. He was a life member of The Nature Conservancy. Throughout his life, Jon traveled to Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Nova Scotia, United Kingdom, and all 50 states on birding trips. In 2004, he was selected by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to join the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker search team in the swamps of Arkansas for a two-week expedition. Jon is survived by his wife, Bobbie, their son and two daughters, and five grandchildren.