Mr. C. Thomas Cates passed away peacefully on December 23, 2020, of cancer. Tom Cates was born on July 24, 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee, to parents Charles and Mary Evelyn Cates. He graduated from Memphis State University in 1963 and Vanderbilt Law School in 1965, where he was on the Law Review and the Order of the Coif. He served in the Army Reserves and was honorably discharged. As much as Tom was known for his legal and professional skills, he was also renowned for his skill as a gardener and outdoorsman. He was eager to share the bounty of vegetables he grew and to advise others of the secrets of his gardening success. Posted 5.6.21
Mr. Ira Stephen North, Sr. died peacefully in his home on December 28, 2020. He was 79 years old, and he was most commonly known as Steve. Steve North was an attorney for over 50 years, and he served a full eight-year term as a Circuit Court Judge. He also served as a part-time preacher and Sunday School teacher for over 50 years. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather and great-grandfather, an uncle, a brother and a friend. He was a good man. Read his full obituary here. Posted 5.6.21
David B. King went to be with his Creator after a short battle with cancer on Friday, December 18, 2020, surrounded by the family who adored him. As a husband and father, he was a model to all who knew him. As a friend, he was caring and concerned. As a member of a community, he valued what was right and what was fair. David was a brilliant litigator. Over a 55-year legal career, he handled complex commercial litigation, personal injury, and wrongful death cases in state and federal courts. Read his full obituary here. Posted 2.15.21
John H. Frye III, of Irvington, Virginia passed away on October 9, 2020. John graduated from Davidson College, served a tour of duty with Army Intelligence in Baltimore, MD, and received his law degree from Vanderbilt University. Read his full obituary here. Posted 1.14.21.
Walter Winn Davis 76, passed away at his home on 10-8-20. Mr. Davis received his B.A. degree in Economics and Business Administration in 1965 and a Juris Doctor degree in 1968, both from Vanderbilt University. Read his full obituary here. Posted 1.14.21
Riley C. Darnell of Clarksville, who served 22 years in the Tennessee General Assembly and 16 years as Secretary of State, died October 2, 2020. Read his full obituary here. Posted 1.12.21
William Landis Turner, age 79, passed Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia following a brief illness. Read his full obituary here. Posted 9.17.20
Thomas Dunlevy Yeaglin, a longtime resident of Germantown, Tennessee, died December 3, 2019 after a long illness. Read his full obituary here. Posted 2.18.20
Comer Lewis Donnell of Lebanon, Tennessee, died Oct. 24. Comer served as Lebanon City Attorney, Watertown City Attorney, Wilson County Attorney and director of Petroleum Taxes for the State of Tennessee. In 1989 he was appointed and later elected Public Defender of the Fifteenth Judicial District; he served until Nov. 1, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Anne Evans Donnell, and two sons. Posted 12.3.19
The honorable Justice Frank Drowota III died April 15. He was 79. Frank graduated from Montgomery Bell Academy in 1956 and Vanderbilt University in 1960. He served as an officer in the navy on the USS Shangri-La from 1960-1962. Returning from the navy, he received his law degree from Vanderbilt. At the age of 31, he was appointed as the youngest Chancellor of the Davidson County Chancery Court and served from 1970 to 1974. He served on the Tennessee Civil Court of Appeals from 1974 to 1980. In 1980 he was elected to the Tennessee Supreme Court, becoming the youngest justice to ever sit on that court. He served until 2005, when he retired as Chief Justice. His tenure on the court was the second longest in Tennessee history. He is survived by his wife, Claire, his two children and five grandchildren. Posted 5.9.18
Judge Billy Roy Wilson has handled several cases in Nashville and Columbia during 2017. The handling of these cases is a part of his day job. Meanwhile, he is the head swamper of the Wye Mountain Branch of the internationally famous Rasputin Mule Farm, which sits atop Wye Mountain in western Pulaski County, Arkansas. Posted 11.27.17
Landis Turner has been elected president of the 1,700 member Tennessee Association of County Commissioners. Posted 8.28.17
Bradford M. “Buck” Gearinger, of Akron, Ohio died May 30. He graduated from the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee before earning his J.D. from Vanderbilt. He then served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1965 through 1968 attaining the rank of major USMCR. In 1968, he joined the law firm of Buckingham, Doolittle and Burroughs and became a member of the Akron Bar Association. He did insurance civil defense work from 1968 to 1979. In 1979, he joined his law partner, Timothy Scanlon, to form the firm of Scanlon and Gearinger Co., where he practiced plaintiff's personal injury tort litigation from 1979 to 2006. He then served as of-counsel with the law firm of Hill Hardman, retiring in September 2011. He served as president of the Akron Bar Association from 1988-1989 and received the Akron Bar Association Professionalism Award in 1998. He was a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and International Society of Barristers. He was predeceased by his daughter, Hally Gearinger Robinson and is survived by his wife, Paula; son, Brian Gearinger; daughter-in-law, Jane Yang; and son-in-law, Luke Robinson. He is further survived by three wonderful grandchildren, Victoria Belle Robinson, Owen Bradford Robinson and Gale Bradford Gearinger. Posted 6.16.17
Robert B. Rubin of Birmingham died January 12. He was 76. He earned his B.A. from Memphis State University before earning his LLB from Vanderbilt. Robert was a Charter Fellow, Class One, Regent and Director of the American College of Bankruptcy, and was affiliated with the American Bankruptcy Institute, Turnaround Management Association, American Bar Association, and Commercial Law League of America. He served as an adjunct professor for the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Birmingham School of Law, and University of Alabama School of Law. He also served on the faculty of the LSU Graduate School of Banking, and as a lecturer for the PESI and Lorman Educational Systems, and Mississippi and Mid-South Bankruptcy Conferences. He is survived by his four sons and five grandchildren. Posted 1.23.17
Vicky Martin Horzempa of Huntsville, Alabama died August 27. She was 77. Vicky earned a bachelor of science degree in political science from Randolph Macon Women’s College and continued her education at the University of Alabama and Birmingham Southern, before earning her law degree from Vanderbilt. She had a career in sales with Martin’s Grill Meats and the Jolly Green Thumb. She is survived by her husband, Martin Horzempa, son, and grandson. Posted 9.15.16
Alden H. Smith Jr. (BA’53) of Nashville died Feb. 25, 2016. He was 84. After graduating from Montgomery Bell Academy, Alden went on to earn his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt, where he was member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and the Vanderbilt Track team. After school, he served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Monrovia before returning to Nashville where joined his father at Smith, Reed and Thompson as a certified life underwriter and charter financial consultant. He received his M.B.A. at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and later earned his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School, and then began his lifelong law career in the trust department of Third National Bank. After retiring from SunTrust Bank, he entered private practice and continued to help many families with their estate planning. He was active in First Presbyterian Church, Belle Meade Country Club, Leadership Nashville, the Tennessee Bar Association and the Rotary Club of Nashville. Alden is survived by three daughters, six grandchildren, brother and many nieces and nephews. Posted 4.5.16
Sidney H. McCollum was elected president of the Association of Attorney-Mediators, a national organization of licensed attorneys from 24 states who are also experienced mediators. He was a circuit judge for Arkansas's 19th Judicial District until 1995, when he stepped down to established ADR Inc., an alternative dispute resolution service providing mediation, arbitration, mini-trials and other alternatives to litigation. Posted 12.3.15
William S. Westermann was recently honored at the Florida Bar’s 50-Year member celebration at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Bill lives in Destin, Florida. Posted 7.8.15
David B. King was recently honored at the Florida Bar’s 50-Year member celebration at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. David is the founding shareholder of King, Blackwell, Zehnder & Wermuth in Orlando, Florida. The firm represents plaintiffs and defendants in both state and federal court in complex business and commercial litigation, arbitrations, appeals, and significant personal injury and wrongful death matters. Posted 7.8.15
Erik C. Larsen, Sr. (BA’62) was recently honored at the Florida Bar’s 50-Year member celebration at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Erik is the founder of Stratos Jet Charters in Winter Park, Florida. Posted 7.8.15
William Landis Turner has been reelected to the county commission of Lewis County, Tennessee and is a director of the Tennessee County Commissioners Association. He also serves as chairman of the Tennessee Short Line Railroad Alliance. In November, Landis was elected chairman and CEO of the South Central Tennessee Railroad Authority. Posted 12.9.14
Samuel G. McNamara died October 5, 2014. He was 74. Sam attended Centre College in Kentucky before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. He was the president of the Franklin County Bar Association and founded his own law practice. After retiring from his personal practice, he was appointed as Franklin County Circuit Judge from 2006-07. Sam is survived by his wife, Marsha Hart McNamara, and his four children. Posted 1.29.15
A new website was launched recently in honor and in memory of Norman E. Lane Jr (BA'62). Norman was lost in action with Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, at Cam Lo Hill in Vietnam on March 29, 1968. Please visit http://www.normanlanejrmemorialproject.org/home for more information. Posted 9.26.14
W. Clary Lunsford died June 8. Clary graduated from Hendricks College before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. He practiced with firms in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, focusing on tax and estate law. Clary is survived by his wife, Jean, and their three children. Posted 7.16.14
Norman E. Lane Jr. will be honored at a memorial tribute on July 12, 2014. Norman attended Vanderbilt Law School from 1962-65 after graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1962. The tribute will be held near Brownsville, Tennessee, and members of the Classes of 1965 and 1966 are invited. Norman enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1966. Two of his former law school classmates from the Class of 1966 served as references on his enlistment. That August, Norman traveled to Quantico, Virginia, where he took part in the 41st Officer Candidate Course, graduating from The Basic School with class 3-67 on March 29, 1967. After serving with the Ground Defense Force at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that spring and summer, he left the U.S. for Vietnam and was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, based at Dong Ha, RVN. He served as 81 mm Mortar Platoon Commander in the area of Cam Lo Village, including "Charlie 2" and Cam Lo Artillery Base. Norman was tragically killed in an enemy mortar attack on Friday, March 29, 1968. He was laid to eternal rest in Brownsville on Friday, April 5, one day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, just 60 miles away. Earlier this year, Norman's memory was honored with a tribute through the Fallen Heroes Project. In preparation for the July 12 event, Al Claiborne, a friend of Norman's from his Vanderbilt University days, has also prepared a PowerPoint poster on Norman's Life and service. Posted 7.16.14
Frank Stegall Wesson, age 74, died May 6. Frank earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. Following law school, he served in the U.S. Air Force and was awarded the Bronze Star while serving in Vietnam. He practiced law in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Portland, Oregon, before retiring to Bend, Oregon, in 2012. Frank is survived by his wife, Sandy; a son and daughter; and two grandchildren. Posted 5.27.14
Richard R. McDowell (BE'59), age 76, died October 14. Dick received his undergraduate and law degrees from Vanderbilt University. He served his country as a volunteer in the U.S. Navy. An accomplished attorney, Dick was a partner in the law offices of Hill Fulwider McDowell Funk & Matthews. He was an avid supporter of St. Luke's United Methodist Church. Dick is survived by two children and two grandchildren. Posted 10.21.13
James Christian Clark, 77, of Sarasota, died April 30. James graduated from Florida State University with a degree in finance before receiving his Juris Doctorate from Vanderbilt Law School, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Vanderbilt Law Review and was elected a member of the Order of the Coif. From 1965 to 1968, he practiced law in Sarasota. In 1969, he joined the faculty of the Florida State University Law School and served as associate professor of law. In 1969, he was selected as FSU's first general counsel and was subsequently appointed assistant vice president of academic affairs. In 1971, James joined the University of South Florida as executive assistant to the president and professor in the college of business. In 1973, he returned to Sarasota and was engaged in a private practice of law. He was appointed by the Governor of Florida to two four-year terms on the board of trustees of the Ringling Museums, serving as chairman of the board for five years. He has served as a member of the Asolo State Theater Board and a director and vice president of the Asolo Theater Festival Association. He was a past president of the Kiwanis Club of Sarasota and a past lieutenant governor of the Florida District of Kiwanis. He also served as president of the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council. James is survived by his wife, Ann Clark; a son; and four stepchildren. Posted 6.12.13
William Landis Turner serves on the county commission in Lewis County, Tennessee. He is chairman and CEO of the South Central Tennessee Railroad Authority. Posted 3.14.13
Phillip "Scott" Higginbottom died Saturday, November 17, in Wichita, Kansas. He was awarded a Summerfield Scholarship to the University of Kansas, where he earned Bachelors (Phi Beta Kappa), Masters and doctoral degrees in addition to his J.D. from Vanderbilt. Scott taught at the University of Idaho, Moscow and later worked for S.E.R. Corporation in Wichita, doing research, teaching and training. He possessed a dry wit and had respect for his roots and family, a quest for learning, and was a man of honesty and integrity. Posted 11.30.12
Donald E. Gartrell died after a protracted struggle with Lou Gehrig's disease on September 13. He was 70. Don graduated from Arlington High School in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1958 and earned his undergraduate degree at Ohio Wesleyan University before earning his law degree at Vanderbilt. He served in the Air Force, leaving with the rank of Captain in 1969, and joined Sulloway Hollis Godfrey & Soden. In 1974, Don and two colleagues established their own firm, Gallagher Callahan & Gartrell. Don was a proud supporter of the Boy Scouts for many years; he also served on the board of the New Hampshire Historical Society, the Concord Hospital and the New Hampshire Chapter of the Red Cross. He was also a trustee of Gould Academy and a supporter of several community initiatives in Swans Island, Maine. Don is survived by his wife, Sarah Burgess Gartrell, a daughter, a son and four grandsons. Posted 10.18.11
Martin Leader retired from practicing law nine years ago, shortly after his communications law firm merged with Shaw, Pittman, now Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman. Since retiring, he has served as an independent corporate director for a tobacco company, an automobile retailer, and a media company. Posted 9.22.10
James Bishop Johnson, 69, died August 16, 2010 at his farm in Garland, Tennessee. Jim was well loved and admired by all of his family and by his many friends. He was a graduate of Christian Brothers High School, Vanderbilt University, and Vanderbilt Law School and practiced law up until his death. During his Vanderbilt Law School years, Jim gave up a spot on the Vanderbilt Law Review to coach their freshman football team. In 1999 he was a recipient of the S.E.C. Unsung Heroes Award as a veteran in Vietnam. Jim is survived by his loving life-long partner, Leslie Luttrell Sollee.
Pat B. Brian, a former district court judge in Salt Lake City and Tooele and Summit counties, died June 29, 2010, of pancreatic cancer at his summer home. He was 72. Pat was appointed to the Third District Court in May 1987 by Utah Governor Norman H. Bangerter and served for 23 years as a judge, retiring in 2005. He earned his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University. His first law position was in the District Attorney's Office in Orange County, California, where he became a deputy district attorney. He also worked as a federal prosecutor in Anchorage, Alaska. Pat was an adjunct law professor at Pepperdine University and at Brigham Young University for 24 years. He lectured extensively in Mongolia, China and Ukraine on the American rule of law. He also had been a visiting professor at the Fudan University Law School in Shanghai, China. He served as a member of the Utah Child Abuse Prevention Task Force, the Utah DUI Revision Commission and the Utah State Victim Restitution Commission. He also was a member of the statewide Grand Jury Panel of Judges and the Utah State Bar Fee Arbitration Committee.
Jane Shaeffer, who was the driving force behind the founding and survival of Tallahassee, Florida's main homeless shelter, died September 9, 2009, from the complications of pneumonia. Jane specialized in domestic law and became the first statewide director of Florida's Guardian ad Litem program. She was among the 20 volunteers and local agencies who banded together in 1987-88 to open a temporary homeless shelter in the basement of First Presbyterian Church. The shelter and became a year-round facility in 1991. In 1989, most of the organizing board members wanted to give up operation of The Shelter and hoped the city would take over the seasonal operation. Shaeffer, not convinced the city would take over and convinced a permanent facility was needed, insisted they stay the course, which led to the eventual year-round shelter. "Jane was definitely the driving force in the origin of The Shelter; it would not be here now if it wasn't for her," said Mel Eby, director of The Shelter since 1990. The Shelter endured criticism from politicians and residents who complain about its visible location and open-door policy. But Shaeffer was an adamant advocate for its chief tenets, insisting that The Shelter welcome homeless people of any physical or mental condition, charge no fees and enforce no limits on how long they can stay. She led the lobbying that persuaded the City Commission to purchase and give The Shelter its building in 1993. She helped assemble the network of churches and groups that donate the nightly meals. In 2004, she and her husband purchased an adjacent building to serve as The Shelter's day center. In 1989 she was Tallahassee's Volunteer of the Year; The Shelter won Tallahassee's Volunteer of the Year award for organizations in 2002 and 2009. A native of Washington, D.C., Jane practiced law in Washington, D.C., and Boston before moving to Tallahassee in 1978. She is survived by her husband of 40 years, retired Florida A&M University architecture professor Ron Shaeffer, two children and three grandchildren.
Thomas Vance Little died March 20, 2009, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.Well-known for his love of history and genteel ways, Little was a historian, attorney and author who wrote several books about Brentwood and Williamson County, the most recent of which was Gently Flows the Harpeth, a collection of his newspaper columns and photographs of the area. A native of Brentwood, where his family has lived since the 1700s, Little earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Vanderbilt, and completed graduate work at Northwestern University and Cambridge University in England. Until his retirement, Little served as an attorney at Union Bank and later as a trust and probate officer. He was honored for his volunteer work many times over the years, having been named Heritage Foundation patron of the year, Brentwood Chamber of Commerce citizen of the year and Williamson County Historical Society volunteer of the year, among others. Because of his vast knowledge of county history, Little was appointed city of Brentwood historian in 1988. He also chaired the Brentwood Historic Commission for many years. Little donated his books and files to the Brentwood Library, which has dedicated the T. Vance Little Room, where visitors can conduct research on their own.
Maurice Brog died at the Memphis Jewish Home January 3, 2009. He was 69. He won a Merit Scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors, before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. He practiced love and healing while a long-term patient at the Memphis Jewish Home. Maurice's brother, Avron Brog, earned his law degree at Vanderbilt in 1957.
Michael E. Shaheen Jr., 67, the Justice Department's top internal watchdog for more than 20 years, who never feared attacking abuses by top political or career officials, died of pancreatic cancer November 29, 2007 at his home in Falls Church, Virginia. A scathing report by Mr. Shaheen in 1993, which accused FBI Director William S. Sessions of misuse of government property, led to President Bill Clinton's dismissal of Sessions. In 1989, Mr. Shaheen wrote a 61-page report that said former attorney general Edwin Meese III had engaged in "conduct which should not be tolerated of any government employee, especially not the attorney general."
As the founding director of the Office of Professional Responsibility, Mr. Shaheen conducted investigations of high-ranking Cabinet officials, senior White House employees and more than one president. A job that he thought would run no more than a year lasted 22 years through the tenure of eight attorneys general. "He was a straight arrow, he was a professional in every sense of the word and he took his job very seriously," former FBI and CIA director William H. Webster said Friday. "He was the go-to guy on any kind of ethical inquiry."
Mr. Shaheen challenged the appearance of oil and gas tax shelters held by Attorney General William French Smith and rebuked Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti, who had denied that he had discussed the investigation of Billy Carter, a registered foreign agent for Libya, with his brother, President Jimmy Carter. He attacked the Clinton White House in testimony before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee in 1995 for its failure to cooperate in his investigation of firings in the White House travel office.
His office had asked for two years for diaries or journals kept by deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster, who committed suicide during the investigation. But it was while reading a magazine article that Mr. Shaheen learned that Foster had kept a daily log that the administration had not turned over, he told the committee.
In addition to investigating headline names, Mr. Shaheen and his office also examined misconduct in the ranks of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Border Patrol, Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Marshals Service.
However, his credibility stemmed from his willingness to tackle the misdeeds of top officials, and not just those of the less-powerful. In 1978, his office published the Justice Department's first report on abuses by longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and his inner circle. Mr. Shaheen said at the time that "there definitely would have been prosecutions if the statute of limitations hadn't run." Hoover died in 1972. Colleagues said Mr. Shaheen's style helped explain how he managed to hold the watchdog position for so long. "He combined a Southern courtliness with an explosive sense of humor, the kind of appreciation usually associated with knee-slapper jokes," said journalist and author Ronald J. Ostrow.
Mr. Shaheen was born in Boston and grew up in Mississippi. He graduated from Yale University and in 1965 received a law degree from Vanderbilt University. He clerked for a federal judge in Tennessee and practiced law in Como, Miss., where he was elected mayor while still in his 20s. He practiced law in Memphis before joining the Justice Department in 1973 in the civil rights division. Two years later, he was special counsel for intelligence to Attorney General Edward H. Levi. Levi established the Office of Professional Responsibility at the end of 1975. At the time of its establishment, the office was the only agency in the executive branch that could start administrative and criminal internal investigations. It never had more than 35 lawyers, but it conducted thousands of examinations.
After his resignation in 1997, Mr. Shaheen served as chief counsel and deputy executive director of the congressionally mandated Commission on the Advancement of Federal Law Enforcement. He was also special investigative counsel for an independent review of the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation division. In 2000, he became senior counselor to then-IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti. He received the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Service and two Meritorious Service Awards. Survivors include his wife, Polly Shaheen of Falls Church; three sons, Michael Shaheen III of Ithaca, N.Y., Timothy Shaheen of Falls Church and Francisco Macedo of Atlanta; four half sisters; a half brother; and three grandchildren.
Joe Inman Majors, a well-respected and popular capitol hill lobbyist, died in his sleep at home. He was 70. Majors, who had been suffering from cancer and heart disease, had just celebrated his birthday on Christmas Day. A former member of the Tennessee State House of Representatives representing Tullahoma, Majors came from the royal family of Tennessee football. His late father, Shirley Majors, was the head coach at the University of the South in Sewanee for 21 years and was a charter inductee into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Three of Majors' brothers played at the University of Tennessee, the best-known being Johnny Majors, who went on to coach UT for many years.
No slouch on the football field himself, Joe Majors played college football at the University of Alabama and at Florida State University. In 1960, he joined the Houston Oilers in the charter season of the American Football League. He played one season there as a quarterback and defensive back. Majors lobbied for Atlanta-based Community Loans of America, the Tennessee Consumer Finance Association, the Tennessee Hotel and Lodging Association, the Tennessee Oil Marketers Association, and the Tennessee Pawnbrokers Association. He was also a founding member of the Tennessee Lobbyist Association. Majors is survived by his wife Elizabeth Scokin, sons Frank and Inman, brothers Johnny, Bobby, and Larry, and sister Shirley Ann Husband.