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Class of 1972

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

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Joseph Brenner Jr. died peacefully February 5.  He graduated from Drew University in 1969 and from Vanderbilt University College of Law in 1972. He was known and admired for his considered, deliberate analyses; was a champion for the protection of human rights; and authored many mental health and developmental disability statutes.  Read his full obituary here Posted 9.21.20

William Hepburn Bristol of Pittsford, New York, died Nov. 5. Bill served as both a city court and county court judge in Pittsford during the 1980s and 90s. He is credited with creating community service sentencing, a strategy to put non-violent offenders to work rather than jail sentencing later adopted by courts throughout the judicial system in New York State. A profile in Upstate Magazine described Judge Bristol as "tough, flamboyant, overbearing and fair." Bill’s impact on justice followed him into private practice. He taught criminal procedure at both SUNY Buffalo School of Law, and at the University of Rochester. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen Leahy, and two daughters. Posted 12.3.19

Edwin E. Wallis Jr. (BA’69), a.k.a. “Big Ed,” of Jackson, Tennessee, died March 7 after a long illness. He was 70. Ed graduated from the Webb School of Knoxville before earning his undergraduate and law degrees at Vanderbilt. He met his wife, Liz Butler, while both were undergraduates; the couple married right before Ed started law school. Ed spent four years working for two Nashville law firms before his wife convinced him to move to her hometown of Jackson. He joined Moss & Benton in 1976 and spent 43 years practicing at the firm, which ultimately became Moss Benton & Wallis. Ed stressed attention to detail, high standards of ethics, and feverish loyalty to his clients. He loved the law and worked to help his clients, right up to the very end of his life. Ed was a Fellow in the Tennessee Bar Foundation, a president of the Jackson-Madison County Bar Association, and served on the executive council of the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys. He spent many weekends at the office planning for his next week of work, surrounded by his office cats: Rocky, Socks, Miss Meow, Zoe, Lilly and Junior. The cats were permitted free rein of his office, including during depositions and real estate closings. Ed loved helping animals and helping people who needed a lawyer and could not pay him. He chaired the United Way campaign twice and also served as chairman of the Lifeline Blood Bank. He spent thousands of hours traveling to and from Nashville to watch Vanderbilt football games, not missing a home game for over almost two decades. He never lost hope in the Commodores, and he was able to enjoy three straight Vanderbilt wins against that other state team before his death. Ed also loved traveling with his wife, Liz. They spent much of their free time at their second home in Perdido Key, Florida. Ed is survived by Liz and two children.  Posted 5.2.19

Allan Gates was appointed president of the American College of Environmental Lawyers during the group’s annual meeting.  Read more:  Posted 10.23.18

Paul M. Kurtz (BA ’68), retired associate dean at The University of Georgia, received the President’s Medal during the Founders Day activities on January 23. The President’s Medal recognizes extraordinary contributions of individuals who are not current employees of UGA, who have supported students and academic programs, advanced research, and inspired community leaders to enhance the quality of life in Georgia. Paul was a faculty member at the School of Law at The University of Georgia from 1975 until his retirement in 2013. He served as the law school’s associate dean from 1991 until 2013 and was named the J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law in 1994. Read the full article here. Posted 1.23.17

Don Hollingsworth has been elected vice president of the Arkansas to Justice Foundation. He continues to serve on the governing bodies of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance. Posted 11.28.16

Honorable Robert E. Burch died October 28. He was 69. Robert graduated from The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina, with a degree in political science before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. During college he was a student investigator for the Davidson county public defender. In addition, during his enrollment at Vanderbilt, Robert graduated from the American Flyers Airline Academy. After graduating from Vanderbilt, he began practicing law as an associate for White & Regen, in Dickson, in 1972 and subsequently as partner for White, Regen, Burch & Beasley from 1975 to 1980. He was appointed as Circuit Judge on January 29, 1980 and subsequently elected to the position in 1980, 1982, 1990, 1998, and 2006. He is the longest serving circuit judge in the history of the district. He is survived by his wife Frieda, five children, 15 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Posted 11.28.16

William C. Koch Jr. has joined the board of trust for The Cumberland University. Posted 11.28.16

Lucy Honey Haynes has retired from her position as Tennessee's chief deputy attorney general. She was succeeded by Paul C. Ney Jr. JD/MBA '84. Posted 9.15.16

Robert W. Gross died August 3 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was 68. Robert earned his undergraduate degree from DePauw University before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School. He spent his career in Indianapolis. He is survived by his wife, Mary Jane Gross and his three children. Posted 8.23.16

Jack W. Burtch Jr . has joined Burtch Law, his son Douglas’ firm, in Richmond, Virginia. Jack W. Burtch Jr. was Principal and Founding Partner of two other law firms from 1980-2016. Posted 3.21.16

Gordon James III joined Brinkley Morgan in Fort Lauderdale, FL as partner in the firm’s business litigation practice. Posted 1.27.16

William C. Koch, Jr. was recognized as dean of the Nashville School of Law in a ceremonial investiture. He has been leading the school since 2014, but the ceremony coincided with the schools 104-year anniversary. He worked as counsel to Gov. Lamar Alexander in the 1980s before Alexander appointed him to the Court of Appeals. Bill served on that court for 23 years. Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed Bill to the state's highest court in 2007, where Bill served until last year. Bill has taken on roles on numerous boards and committees and is a member of at least seven legal associations. Posted 12.3.15

Michael ThompsonMichael V. Thompson died September 10, 2015. He was 72. A veteran of the Vietnam War, he graduated from the University of Kentucky before going onto earn his law degree from Vanderbilt. He practiced law in Nashville for 40 years and served as the attorney for the Tennessee Highway Patrol before going into private practice. He is survived by his wife, Wanda; two sons; two step-sons; five grandchildren; and one brother. Posted 9.28.15


Gordon Owen Tanner is now the general counsel of the United States Air Force. In this position, Gordon provides oversight, guidance and direction for legal advice provided by more than 2,600 Department of the Air Force military and civilian lawyers worldwide. Prior to this confirmation, Tanner was principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs, where he served beginning in 2013. For more information, please follow this link. Posted 11.4.14 

Judge Robert E. Burch of the 23rd Circuit Court of Tennessee retired in August after 34 years on the bench. A former attorney and commercial pilot with Capitol Airways in Nashville, Bob began his judgeship in 1980.  In 2000, Judge Burch established the 23rd Judicial District Drug Court, an accomplishment of which he is especially proud. In 2002, he was named Tennessee Trial Judge of the Year. A recent Tennessean article highlighting Bob's impressive career can be found here. After his retirement, Bob looks forward to continuing his work with the Drug Court program and doing some long overdue reading on military history. Posted 9.26.14

William C. Koch Jr. will leave his post on the Tennessee Supreme Court to become dean of the Nashville School of Law in July. Bill has served on the Tennessee Supreme Court since 2007, and he previously served for 23 years on the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Posted 1.14.13

JB BurchJack W. Burtch Jr., founding partner of Macaulay & Burch, was selected by his peers for inclusion in Virginia Business Magazine's 2013 Legal Elite. The Legal Elite are selected annually by members of the Virginia State Bar, honoring those seen as the most outstanding representatives of their profession. JB has been named to the Legal Elite every year since 1999. Posted 12.13.13



Robert B. Eadie
was recently announced interim director for the Division of Emergency Preparedness and Community Support for the Florida Department of Health. Prior to this position, Bob served as deputy director and counsel for the Metropolitan Government Public Health Department of Nashville and Davidson County in Tennessee and as deputy secretary of Administration for the Florida Department of Health. Currently, he serves as administrator at the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County. Posted 11.7.13

Claude O. Ramer II, 69, of Knoxville, passed away August 26, at his home in Knoxville. Growing up in Knoxville, Claude graduated from West High School in 1962, where he was president of his senior class, as well as a star basketball player and sprinter. After earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee, he graduated with a degree in law from Vanderbilt Law School.   Upon graduation, he clerked for U.S. District Judge L. Clure Morton in Nashville before beginning a long career in private and corporate law. Claude joined Dearborn & Ewing in Nashville and thereafter worked with the investment firm of J. C. Bradford & Co. In 2001, he returned to Knoxville where he continued the practice of law until his death.

During his career, Claude served on numerous professional, civic and charitable organizations. He served on the board of directors of Alzheimer's Tennessee, Inc., where he was a founding member of the Rosemary Circle, was a loyal supporter of both the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt Law School, served as the Vanderbilt Law School class of 1972 Class Agent for many years, and was a member of Cokesbury United Methodist Church where he sang in the choir.  He also served in the United States Air National Guard as a pilot.

Claude is survived by his wife Elaine; a son and stepdaughter; and 4 grandchildren. Posted 9.18.13

Edward M. Yarbrough, former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, will join Bone McAllester Norton on August 1. The law firm has launched a criminal defense and government investigations practice by bringing on Ed, one of the most prominent attorneys in that field in Middle Tennessee. Ed has practiced at the Nashville law firm of Walker Tipps & Malone since 2010. He was appointed U.S Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee in 2007 after working in private practice in Nashville for 31 years. Posted 7.16.13

Thomas V. White has been inducted as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL). ACTL is widely considered to be premier professional trial organization in North America. Lawyers must have a minimum of 15 years' trial experience before they can be considered for a fellowship. Tom is a founding partner of Nashville-based Tune Entrekin & White and has been practicing law in Middle Tennessee for more than 40 years. Posted 3.29.13

Gordon James III, a partner in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida office of Sedgwick, has become a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.The induction ceremony took place during the recent 2013 spring meeting of the College in Naples, Florida. Posted 3.13.13

Jack BurtchJack W. Burtch Jr., founding partner of Macaulay & Burtch, has been named to the 2013 Class of Fellows by the Virginia Law Foundation. On January 24, Burtch was one of 20 new members inducted into the Class of Fellows at a ceremony to take place at the Williamsburg Lodge Convention Center. Posted 2.5.13




James GonzalesJames J. Gonzales (Jim), Colonel USAF (Retired), died September 9, 2012 in Centennial, Colorado. He was 65. A native of Mobile, Alabama, Jim attended McGill High School and accepted a Congressional appointment to the USAF Academy in 1965, earning his commission and BS degree in 1969. The Academy selected him to attend law school at Vanderbilt University where he earned his Juris Doctorate degree. Later, he earned his LLM from George Washington University Law School and his Master's degree in Theology from Denver's St. Thomas Theological Seminary.

He continued JAG service in the Air Force Reserves, serving as supervisory attorney with the Federal Labor Relation Authority. In 1985, Jim joined the law firm of Holland & Hart where for the rest of his professional career. He appeared on behalf of Colorado's business community before the U.S. House of Representatives labor committee concerning OSHA regulatory reform. Jim was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals and U.S. District Courts, U.S. Court of Military Appeals, and the Supreme Courts of Colorado and Tennessee. He retired from the USAF in 1999 with decorations including the Presidential Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, USAF Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Service Medal, and Army Airborne Badge.

Jim also instructed graduate courses for Central Michigan University and periodically lectured at the USAF Academy. He published scholarly articles in the Colorado Lawyer and Corporate Legal Times and was an award-winning author of biographical and historical books, including GUNNY: Memoirs of Mobile's South Side (2007) and USAFA'S Cadet Zoo (2009). Jim is survived by his devoted wife Julia Chase, two daughters; two sons; and four grandchildren. Posted 9.11.12

Paul KurtzPaul M. Kurtz (BA'68), Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs at the University of Georgia School of Law, was recently presented with the school's Distinguished Service Scroll Award, Georgia Law School Association's highest honor that recognizes individuals for their exceptional service and dedication to the legal profession and the law school. The award was presented to him by a former student who praised the impact Paul has had on his students, citing this as his true legacy. Paul said he was “awed and honored” to be one of the few faculty members who have been given the service scroll award. Paul joined the Georgia Law faculty in 1975 as an assistant professor and has taught family, criminal and constitutional law. He currently oversees academic programming and student life at the law school and is a J. Alton Hosch Professor. Paul will retire at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year. Posted 6.22.12

John Burwell Wilkes has published a novel called Raventross and is currently at work on a sequal to be released in late 2012. John has had a career as an attorney, judge and airline executive while maintaining a parallel military career with the U.S. Marine Corps. After earning his B.A. in English from Vanderbilt y in 1965, he entered Officer Candidate School and then served a tour of duty in Vietnam, where he commanded an artillery battery in combat and was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor. After release from active duty, John remained in the reserve program while earning his J.D. at Vanderbilt. He then earned his pilot's license in 1973. As a reserve officer, he commanded an artillery battalion and held important positions in the Marine Corps Combat Readiness program. His military background and civilian positions resulted in many contacts and associations with the intelligence community. John retired from the Marine Corps in 1996 with the rank of colonel. He then became active in the Air Force Auxiliary and served as a mission check pilot and commander of the Mississippi Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. In civilian life, John has served as executive vice president of Capital International Airways, an international passenger carrier; as CEO of Buffalo Airways, an international cargo carrier; and as executive vice president of an airplane leasing company in Ireland. The associated worldwide travel, personal contacts with military, corporate leadership, and international figure heads all play into the characterization and plot of his novel. John spends winters on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and summers on Lake Michigan's west coast. Posted 6-22-12

Walker, James '72 James Lanier "Rocky" Walker died on March 18, 2012 after a four-year battle with cancer. Raised in Sarasota, Florida, Rocky was a life-long Eagle Scout. He earned his bachelor's degree from Davidson College before earning his law degree at Vanderbilt, where he was admitted to the Order of the Coif and served as associate articles editor for the Vanderbilt Law Review. Rocky served as a captain in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He practiced law for 37 years as a commercial and personal injury litigation defense lawyer. For the past 19 years, he was a partner with Jackson Walker in San Antonio, where he headed the litigation section for all of the Jackson Walker offices. Rocky was licensed to practice law in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, as well as in numerous federal district and federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. Last fall, he was honored with the Association of Corporate Counsel - South/Central Texas Chapter's "Ethical Life Award," indicative of the high esteem and respect he earned from his colleagues. Rocky was a member of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel and the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, of which he was past president. In addition, he served as chairman of the State Bar of Texas District Four Grievance Committee and was a member of the Texas Lawyers Assistance Committee of the State Bar of Texas. He was board chairman of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program in San Antonio, and he served on the board of trustees for the South Central Texas Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He is survived by his wife, Jacki Eltheridge Walker; three children; and three grandchildren.

Stephen HouzeStephen Houze is profiled in the April 13 edition of the Daily Journal of Commerce Oregon. Stephen has a private practice in Portland, focusing on criminal defense law. Posted 4.17.12





Betty Outhier Williams
was honored as a 2011 Mona Salyer Lambird Spotlight Award winner at the Oklahoma Bar Association's Women in Law Conference this fall. Betty has a law practice in Muskogee where she handles civil litigation with an emphasis in federal and bankruptcy courts. She was the first female assistant U.S. attorney in any district of Oklahoma and has also served as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District. Posted 11.9.11

Lawrence AhernLawrence R. Ahern III
, a partner in Burr & Forman's banking and financial services, bankruptcy and creditors' rights groups based in Nashville, will be inducted into the ACMA as a Fellow at this year's annual meeting. He has been elected chair of the organization's Bankruptcy Committee and will be speaking at the annual meeting. Posted 10.17.11




Todd Eberle, Mayor of the city of Prospect, Kentucky, has received the 2011 Kentucky League of Cities Kentucky Elected Official of the Year Award. The award was announced at the Kentucky League of Cities Annual Conference held during the first week of October in Lexington and is given annually by the Kentucky League of Cities “to recognize a city leader whose innovation and leadership goes beyond expectation and has truly improved his or her community.” Todd was first elected Mayor in 2006 and was most recently re-elected in 2010. He also serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Jefferson County Kentucky League of Cities. Posted 10-17-11

John Treitz,an attorney at the firm, Stoll Keenon Ogden, has been elected to the board of directors of Meritas, an international alliance of business law firms located in more than 230 markets in 73 countries. John was elected to a three-year term during the alliance's recent annual meeting in Montreal. Posted 10.17.11

R. Lee BennettR. Lee Bennett, a shareholder in the Orlando office of GrayRobinson, was named Rotarian of the Year for his significant contributions to the Rotary Club of Orlando. Lee is a member of GrayRobinson's Technology Team, which serves the special needs of technology companies and focuses his practice on corporate, technology, trademark and copyright law. Additionally, Lee currently serves on the Florida Supreme Court Professionalism Committee, the Florida Bar Professional Ethics Committee and the Fifth District Court of Appeals, Judicial Nominating Commission. Posted 7-15-11



William Roach

William H. Roach Jr. has been named chairman of the American Heart Association. Aschairman, Bill will be responsible for the overall administration of business affairs, public relations and fundraising and will preside over meetings of the board of directors and administrative cabinet. Bill is a retired partner with the law firm McDermott Will & Emery. His legal textbook, Medical Records and the Law, is now in its fourth edition. Posted 7.15.11




John TreitzJohn Treitz a partner in Stoll Keenon Ogdenin Louisville, Kentucky, has been elected to a three-year term on the board of directors of Meritas, an international alliance of business law firms located in more than 230 markets in 73 countries. As one of 21 board members representing Meritas' member firms worldwide, John will be responsible for reviewing and establishing policy and setting strategy for the alliance. At Stoll Keenon Ogden, John focuses his practice on complex finance transactions and commercial and residential real estate development. Posted 7.15.11



Rocky WalkerRocky Walker, partner at Jackson Walker, was recently elected to the board of trustees of the South Central Texas Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. As a board trustee, he will work with other trustees and members in the South Central Texas Chapter to oversee and promote the growth of the organization's chapter. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Posted 3.10.11



Paul Sloan
, who is Deputy Commissioner of Tennessee's Department of Environment and Conservation, received the Commissioners Award for Exception Commitment and Public Service from Commissioner Jim Fyke at the 2010 Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards in Nashville on July 4. Paul joined the department in 2005 as head of the environmental regulatory bureau, leading the senior management team responsible for safeguarding human health and protecting the quality of Tennessee's land, air and water. He was a founding board member of Cumberland Region Tomorrow, a former trustee of The Nature Conservancy and a former board member of the Cumberland River Compact. Posted 7.6.10

Judge Robert Burch was honored for 30 years of service on the bench of the 23rd Judicial District Circuit Court in Dickson, Tennessee in March. Judge Burch was appointed to the Circuit Court on January 29, 1980. The luncheon in his honor, sponsored by the Dickson County Bar Association, attraction more than 100 of the judge's colleagues and friends. “If the Lord lets me live I'm going to finish out this term, whether you want me to or not,” Judge Burch told the guests. “But at the end of this term I'm gone.” However, he noted, if he keeps hearing stories from friends about “the joys of retirement,” he might change his mind. Posted 4.16.10

Peter T. Dole died on March 15, 2010. Peter was the owner of Dole Law Practice in Paris, Indiana, having joined his father as a partner in the practice in 1980. Peter's life was marked by dedication to his country, his family, his profession, and his community. He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Dartmouth College. Upon graduating, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, denying his college education in order to serve in infantry Special Forces. He served in Vietnam as a radio operator and paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles," later earning two Bronze Stars for his service in the Green Berets. After he earned his law degree at Vanderbilt, he spent two years working at the Securities and Exchange Comission, and then returned to Paris in 1975 and was elected to a term as Edgar County State's Attorney. He is survived by his wife, Becky McCarty, their three daughers and three grandchildren. 

Daniel Horowitz passed away on November 25, 2005, at home. Daniel worked in New York City for many years as an investment banker before moving to Nashville in 2001. He was recently employed by the U.S. Bank in Brentwood, Tennessee.