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1950s Class Notes


Benjamin A. Moore, Jr.’s firm, Buist Moore Smythe McGee merged in May 2011 with the North Carolina firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. “I have gone from the senior lawyer in a 45-lawyer firm to a non-entity in a 550-lawyer firm,” he writes. “I like it!” 

Stephen Schlossberg died at his home in Sarasota, Fla. on December 10, at 90. He was involved in the labor movement for nearly 50 years as an organizer, lobbyist, political strategist, mediator, author, and advisor to legendary United Auto Workers president, Walter Reuther. As the union’s general counsel, Schlossberg played a leading role in bargaining with Detroit’s Big Three automakers and helped negotiate the Chrysler rescue deal in the 1970s. He was known as a good dealmaker who could make his points with wit. After nearly 20 years with the UAW he practiced with Zwerdling, Schlossberg, Leibig and Kahn for 2 years until he was appointed Deputy Under Secretary for Labor-Management relations in President Reagan’s administration, an appointment that conservatives decried.

Following his appointment to the Labor Department, Schlossberg became director of the Washington office of the International Labor Organization. At his retirement from this position in 1994, Doug Fraser, a former UAW president, said, “Schlossberg has always agitated for social justice,” adding that, “he preaches the truth that the labor movement is absolutely essential in a democratic society.”

Schlossberg grew up in Roanoke, Va. He enrolled at UVA after high school, but left to enlist in the Army Air Force after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After serving in the Army he worked in a family retail business, then took a job as an organizer in the South with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union for less than a quarter of the pay. He was familiar with injustices he’d seen and experienced in the South, where “Jews, blacks, Catholics, and foreigners were hated with a passion.” (His father was a Jewish immigrant from Russia.)

After graduating from the Law School in 1957, Schlossberg worked at Van Arkel & Kaiser, a labor law firm in Washington, D.C. In the 1960s he was made special assistant to the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, where he worked on trying to head off, then end, a months’-long newspaper strike in New York.

Though he was attacked throughout his career, he never shied away from identifying himself as a liberal in favor of organized labor, free speech, and humanism.


The notes for the Class of 1958 have been compiled by Ted Torrance in cooperation with the staff of UVA Lawyer and pursuant to information solicited from and furnished to him by members of the class. We hope that the obvious increase in the volume of news for the Class of 1958 will encourage other classes to adopt a similar approach to gathering and reporting news of their alumni(ae).

In 1958 we numbered 161; today we are 97 strong. The following is some news about those hardy survivors.

Over the years, Fred Goldstein has probably done more than anyone to maintain the tie between our class and the Law School, both as an effective fundraiser for the Law School Foundation and as an active participant in Virginia affairs. As a member of the Virginia Tax Study Group, he gets to Charlottesville a couple of times a year, and it was Fred who ultimately obtained the permission of the School to report the news of our class in this rather informal format. Fred practiced in Boston for many years but is now learning the fine points of golf (Fred: see the entry for John Merchant). Fred is also collecting British 18th and 19th Century caricatures and prints to add to the collections at Yale's British Art Center and Art Gallery. Fred has an extensive collection of his own, which he is presently cataloguing.

Jim Atkin practiced in San Francisco and, later, Washington, D.C., with the firm now known as Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, handling primarily matters relating to the oil industry. Along the way he served as deputy director of the transition team at the Department of Energy prior to Ronald Reagan's inauguration, and purchased a farm in Rappahannock County, where he raised apples and hunted foxes (a reprise of Pierson v. Post?). Sadly, this past January Jim's wife, Dottie, died, and Jim expects to return to the Bay Area later this year.

Another westerner is Bob Dorsey, who lives in Las Vegas, where he has been a member of the Nevada bar for over 50 years. Bob practiced alone until bypass surgery some ten years ago, but reports that he is still happily married “to my childhood sweetheart.”

Down in Texas, Bill Edwards (who by the way was the first responder to my plea for news) has been named Corpus Christi's outstanding plaintiff's lawyer for 2012. A recent issue of Texas Lawyer recounts Bill's successful efforts to get the Texas legislature to declare barratry a crime, and to provide for civil remedies for victims. (Confession: Charlie Woltz may have covered this in detail, but I had to scurry to the dictionary find out just what barratry is. Do you know?)

I had a very nice telephone chat with Joe Hilton, who remains extremely busy, arranging for investments in Manhattan office buildings by Chinese investment funds--a concept apparently novel to the Chinese, which calls for Joe's very frequent trips to the Far East.

If you are ever in trouble in Lexington, Ky., the man to see is clearly Foster Pettit, who has practiced there since our graduation, interrupted by three terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives and two terms as mayor of Lexington, plus a stint as a cabinet secretary for the Kentucky governor. A busy man, indeed.

Among the retired jurists in our ranks are Barbara Coppeto (serving on the Connecticut Superior Court until a few years ago, and now wintering in Siesta Key, Fla., and summering in Milford, Conn.); Stuart “Blue” Jay (serving on a domestic relations court in Louisville, Ky.); and Swan Yerger, with 12 years on the Hinds County (Miss.) Circuit Court. Swan is also busy repopulating the South with two daughters and six grandchildren.

Jim Thornton managed to bypass the practice of law entirely by parlaying his experience as night clerk at Keswick C.C. into an MBA from New York University and a career as an investment manager in New York City, where he can be found at the firm of Tocqueville Asset Management. Your scribe Googled the firm and found a picture of Jim; I'd know him anywhere.

The golf afficionados in our ranks will find a true icon in John Merchant. John took up the game when he was in the Navy after Law School, carried a handicap of from 4 to 8 for 38 years, was twice his club's champion, but most notably was elected to the USGA executive committee in 1992. For the next four years John officiated at the Masters, U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur and Senior Open tournaments, and was Tiger Woods' first lawyer. Finally, in 2010 John was elected to the National Black Golf Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, a minor stroke plus a torn rotator cuff effectively ended John's golfing career, but he still remains active in national golf affairs. In 1994 John's daughter, Susan, became the first child of a black graduate to receive a J.D. degree from the Law School, and her classmates invited John to deliver that year's commencement address. He has been persuaded to write his autobiography, which is expected to be published shortly under the title A Journey Worth Taking. For obvious reasons, I have placed an order for one of the first (and hopefully autographed) copies.

Alan Diamonstein reports from Newport News that over the years he has been involved in asbestos litigation and commercial and real estate law. He was a member of the Virginia General Assembly for 35 years and is currently supporting Virginia by serving on the Board of Visitors of the University. I suggest his appointment to the Board is by itself a singular honor and a tribute to his years in the legislature.

I had an amusing note from Bill Griesar. He spent 25 years practicing corporate law in New York City, and another 20 years as vice president and general counsel of Rockefeller University. He now divides his time between Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and the Maine coast near Damariscotta. Bill recounted an incident in one of Charlie Gregory's labor law classes: Gregory called on Bill, pronouncing his name as “Greaser.” Bill corrected him, saying his name was pronounced “Grizer.” Gregory objected, saying the “ie” spelling called for his pronunciation. Bill responded that it was his name, and that he could pronounce it “Brown” if he wanted to. Gregory just smiled, but for the rest of the term Bill was “Mr. Brown.”

From the Palisade in Ft. Lee, N.J. (with a beautiful view of New York) Michael Kaplan writes that he retired on a Friday as vice president and chief counsel of Mutual Life Insurance (MONY) and on Monday began a 13-year career as counsel and deputy secretary of Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey. His wife, Harriet, served until 2005 as chairman of the Department of Dentistry at Morristown Memorial Hospital, which Bill says “kept me dependently wealthy.” He and his wife both enjoy travelling abroad: “She puts on my flea collar and leash and takes me places ..... When we get back she'll tell me if I had a good time. The problem is that after we get back the visited country usually has a revolution.”

Larry Grim still appears to be The Man in Perkasie, Pa., as the senior in a 17-lawyer firm. Along with numerous corporate and civic activities, Larry is a published author, having helped write a history of the Bucks County (Pa.) courts and bar from William Penn to 2003. His partners will be pleased to learn that a number of years ago Larry and I were fellow passengers on a cruise to various golf courses in the U.K. and Ireland, and that I have an extensive video of Larry haranguing an unfortunate barmaid in a pub on the shores of the Shannon River.

Our closest physical tie to the Law School is probably Fred Landess, who spent 39 happy years with the McGuireWoods firm in Charlottesville. The sad news is that after about five years of retirement Fred's wife, whom he married while in Law School, contracted Pick's Disease, to which she eventually succumbed this past January. On the brighter side, Fred has dusted off his high school trumpet, and now plays in three bands, including the Charlottesville Municipal Band.

I had a nice handwritten note from Brad Miller, who lives in Tampa. Brad's wife died in 1993, but prior to then she and Brad travelled extensively, often to Mexico City, where his wife grew up. Brad's stepson is trying to get him to move to Dallas, where his wife's relatives live, but the prospect of selling his home in today's market is, to say the least, daunting. Reciting some of the physical problems so many of us face with advancing years, Brad wryly recites a statement attributed to Terence (you know, 185-159 B.C.): “Senectus ipsa morbus est.” Come on; you all know Latin.

I see John Oram on a more or less regular basis, as his lovely home outside Savannah makes for a convenient and enjoyable over-night on the drive down here. John retired in 1995 from a very successful New York practice, left his home in Chappaqua, N.Y., headed south, and never looked back. He has had one wife, Sonia, and has two daughters, two granddaughters, and two dogs. English literature (both the reading and writing thereof) remains of great interest, and he has taken both courses locally and, over five summers, at Cambridge University. He continues with the game of golf, but “with decreasing proficiency.” So say we all.

Tom Otis stopped by with his wife, Mina, for lunch the other day, on his way to Boca Grande, Fla., for a stay. Tom retired in 2000 after decades with a Boston investment management firm, and he is now a director of a family firm that is the largest Ocean Spray cranberry grower and stockholder. He and Mina have a winterized beach house in S. Dartmouth, Mass., where he pursues his hobbies: “supporting the children, educating the grandchildren” and generally cavorting on the shores of, and on, Buzzard's Bay.

From Huntsville, Ala., Bob Smith writes that he recently completed the manuscript for a book entitled Law and Lawyers in the United States, which will be published this year by a member of the Amazon group. I will be looking for it; the mere scope of the title is mind-boggling.

Henry Williams has checked in from upstate Scottsville, N.Y. He spent about 20 years with the Harris, Beach firm in Rochester, then left to found The Williams Law Firm, which is still going strong as a solo venture. Henry's extra-curricular activities are numerous and eclectic, ranging from the presidency of the Landmark Society of Western New York to commodore of the Lake Yacht Racing Association to ski patrol director. And he adds his bass voice to the local church choir.

Hobart McWhorter, a venerated litigator in the venerable Bradley Arant firm in Birmingham, where he spent his entire career, speaks of now doing as much or as little as he wishes (“which includes doing nothing”), and it is clear that his consuming interest is saltwater fly fishing, at which he has grown quite adept. In fact, if you will visit a certain bar in Deep Water Cay in the Bahamas, you will find a photo of Hobart with the 11-1/2 pound bonefish he caught there. Very impressive.

Bill Bunting called from Princeton, N.J., to report that he is still extremely busy in private practice (estate planning and administration), but on the side he is active in Cranbury, N.J., civic affairs and charity work, and is writing a history of Cranbury. The weekends find him doing “farm work.” I wonder what he does in his spare time. By the way, Bill is the fellow you will hear from annually for contributions to the Law School Foundation, but I am assured his approach is with a glove of velvet.

From the northern part of Florida, in Tallahassee, Ben Phipps writes that he is still practicing, dealing strictly with state and local tax issues throughout the state. He and his wife, Phyllis, just recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

From further south, in Pompano Beach, Dick Roth reports that he has finally retired after 54 years of practicing in the areas of trusts, wills, probate, and real estate. He was also city attorney for the City of Lighthouse Point for 27 years. Now “I play golf three times a week and raise 400 orchids. Having a great time.”

I received a very newsy note from Allan Johnson. Allan and Nancy (who were one of the married couples in our Law School years and often my dinner hosts) now live in Virginia Beach, but until 1988, when Allan retired, they lived in Southport, Conn., where Allan was much involved in civic affairs, not the least of which was his serving as founder and first head of the Southport Conservancy. His practice was in civil litigation, in Bridgeport and later Westport. Both a daughter and her husband are Law School graduates, apparently with distinguished records. During the summer months the Johnsons have been sailing on increasingly large boats, ranging from Sunfish to a 30-foot Alberg, and Allan also plays tennis competitively, participating in six national tournaments. During the winters they have made a habit of escaping to Anguilla.

Here in Vero Beach for all or part of the winter are Stuart Brunet, Verne Hampton, Bob Emmons and your scribe. Verne is still practicing in Detroit. Stu is retired from trust administration, most recently with Irving Trust in New York. And Bob is “semi-retired” from the former Palmer, Dodge firm in Boston.

I retired from my Rhode Island firm in 1997 and have been on the dole ever since. Connie and I both enjoy travelling and the game of golf, which have married together nicely. We've had numerous golfing trips to the U.K. and Ireland, and to Europe, and last May we had the pleasure of introducing one of our sons to the St. Andrews and other courses in Scotland. Non-golf travel has involved some interesting crossings: the United States 3-1/2 times on our Gold Wing motorcycle, and Russia via the Trans-Siberian line, from Beijing to Moscow. All in all, the fates have been extremely kind to us, giving us the health to enjoy our favorite pursuits.

It has been fun putting this column together. I urge all to contribute what they can for the next edition of UVA Lawyer. Simply write or e-mail me at the address at the head of the column. In the meantime I extend my thanks to all those who made the foregoing news possible.

Edwin G. Torrance, Corresponding Secretary
1955 Windward Way, Vero Beach, FL 32963