My Profile Search Directory Submit News Contact Us Logout Alumni Home
Spring 2013UVA Lawyer - Home
Dean's MessageOpinionClass NotesIn MemoriamIn PrintFaculty BriefsUVA Lawyer Home


1950s Class Notes


Charles E. McDowellRear Admiral Charles E. McDowell died on November 25, at the age of 89. Following graduation from the Law School, he worked briefly as a lawyer with Shell Oil before joining the U.S. Navy in 1951. He served as a staff legal officer of the Pacific Fleet in Honolulu and a staff judge advocate of the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he led the international law division. During the height of the war in Vietnam he was head legal officer of the U.S. 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan. He was Deputy Judge Advocate General and then Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy from 1978-80. After 30 years with the Navy he took military retirement and practiced law in a private firm in Woodbridge, Va., until 1997.

Admiral McDowell was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. He was inducted into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Ga., in 2010.

John Thorpe Lawrence Richards died on March 30, at the age of 91. Thorpe Richards was born in Manila, P.I., where his father was stationed as a U.S. Naval Officer. He was a member of University’s varsity swimming team, and president of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity before enlisting in the U.S. Navy at the onset of World War II.

Richards served as a naval aviator flying TBM torpedo bombers from small escort carriers in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He was decorated for his role in the capture of the U-505 in June of 1944, and later for flying close air support during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

After the war he returned to the University for his law degree. He was recalled to active service during the Korean War and served as a legal officer and flight instructor in Pensacola.

He practiced law in Alexandria, Va., for over 60 years until shortly before his death. Dedicated to the cause of historic preservation, he was the president and chief spokesman for the Old Town Civic Association during the early 1960’s, known at the time as the “Battle of Alexandria.” His leadership and forceful advocacy helped defeat the proposed urban renewal plan to slum clear 24 blocks of historic housing stock in the heart of Old Town Alexandria.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, four children, eight grandchildren, and a great-grandson.


Col. Kenneth C. Crawford (Ret.) passed away on November 18. Following his graduation from the Law School, he served in the Judge Advocate General Corps. His last active-duty assignment was commandant of the Judge Advocate General School in Charlottesville. After retirement from the military, he became associate director of education at the Southwestern Legal Foundation at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tex. He was selected by Chief Justice Warren Berger to be the first director of education and training of the Federal Judicial Center. After leaving this position he practiced law, lectured for the Asia Foundation, and for Israeli judges. He addressed the Israeli Supreme Court in October 1984. In addition to his degree from the Law School he earned a Masters from George Washington University in International Law and Affairs.


Billups Phinizy Percy, brother of the novelist Walker Percy, died on January 18 at the age of 91. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1942 and served in the Pacific during World War II, for a time in the same PT squadron as John F. Kennedy. As a submariner he contributed to successful campaigns in Japanese waters and was awarded the Silver and Bronze Stars. He taught constitutional law at Tulane University Law School for more than 30 years.


Ruhi K. Ramanzani, Edward R. Stettinius Professor Emeritus of Government and Foreign Affairs in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences and one of the world’s experts on Iran’s foreign policy, will publish a collection of previously published articles and book chapters with the University of Virginia Press in the fall. He describes Iran’s Foreign Policy: Independence Without Freedom as a capstone to his scholarship on Iran.

For six decades Ramanzani has studied, taught, and written about global politics and foreign policy. He received the Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest University honor given to faculty members, in 1994.


The Honorable H. Warren Knight (Ret.) passed away on November 15 in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 83 years old. He practiced law in Orange County and served on the Orange County Municipal Court from 1971-73 and on the Orange County Superior Court from 1973-79. He was twice named Trial Judge of the Year by the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association.

Judge Knight’s experience with civil cases that sometimes took as long as five years to come to trial inspired him to leave his judgeship to start JAMS, The Resolution Experts, a solo mediation practice in Santa Ana. He was a trailblazer in bringing lawyers to accept and seek alternative dispute resolution. Decades later, JAMS is the world’s largest private alternative dispute resolution provider. The JAMS Foundation provides grants to nonprofits in the dispute resolution field, and associates give thousands of pro bono hours every year to various causes.


Robert F. McCulloch died at home on September 15. Following Law School, he was a clerk with the U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit. He was a career attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission and retired as special counsel. He had lived in the District of Columbia since 1957 and invested in residential real estate on Capitol Hill, managing the properties until recently.


By Ted Torrance, Corresponding Secretary, 1955 Windward Way, Vero Beach, FL 32963; e-mail:

By the time these class notes are published, many of the 79 members of our class still keeping in contact with the Law School will have reunited in Charlottesville under the leadership of Fred Goldstein. Fleshing out whatever information may have been exchanged between the attendees:

Jim Atkin writes that he is now living in Roanoke, Va., having abandoned earlier thoughts of returning to the San Francisco area. He is still doing some pro bono work, and manages to travel to California to see his children and grandchildren from time to time. Through Jim I learned that Stan Christopher has left Palm Beach Gardens for State College, Pa., the draw apparently being three grandchildren in the area.

Distinguished professional careers did not suffice to insulate Barbara Coppeto and John Oram against the ravages of Superstorm Sandy last October. Barbaraʼs home in Milford, Conn., on Long Island Sound (and on Shorefront Street, so you can imagine the exposure), took a severe beating, with the Sound waters all but flowing right through her house. Likewise, the Oramsʼ summer home in Beach Haven, N.J., suffered a similar fate, and at about the time of our reunion they planned to be on the scene to arrange for extensive repairs and the removal of “tons” of sand and debris from their property.

I recently had a very pleasant telephone conversation with Don Devine. Donʼs career included his serving for some years as a Commonwealth Attorney in Virginia and as a judge on the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals in Washington, D.C. Following the death of his wife, Pat, a couple of years ago, Don has moved into an assisted living facility in Leesburg, Va. I reminded Don that at some time during our third year at the Law School he was elected our class president after a low-to-no-profile campaign, and that although the office carries with it neither statutory nor common-law duties or authority, he presumably continues as president. Hail to the Chief!

Bill Griesar notes that he “has clocked over 54 years” as a practicing lawyer, although he says his practice is now all but over. The last 20 years of his active career were spent as general counsel to The Rockefeller University in New York City. Bill lives in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., in the winter and gardens and sails in the summer in Chamberlain, Maine.

Stuart “Blue” Jay writes from Louisville, Ky., (his home since Law School days) that he is kept busy with eight grandchildren in the area.

I received an intriguing picture of Countess Sophie of Wessex (a daughter-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II) taken at close range in Anguilla by Allan Johnson. Allanʼs accompanying note is ambiguous as to whether he actually became part of the Countess’s social circle or was just another paparazzo, but I am sure he would have us believe the former. The Johnsons’ daughter is a graduate of the Law School, and their granddaughter has been accepted at the University (and invited to be an Echols Scholar), so the Johnson family may well boast of three generations in Charlottesville. In the meantime, Allan and Nancy are spending upwards of eleven weeks in Anguilla this year, with Allan playing tennis on a regular basis and captaining one or two USTA senior teams.

Michael Kaplan writes that he had initially been planning on attending our reunion but that he had to change his plans. He asked his wife why she would want to hang out with a bunch of old guys there anyway, and she responded, “Why not? Iʼve been hanging around with you all these years.”

Doug Mackall reports that after Law School he spent two years as an assistant prosecutor and thereafter practiced law in Fairfax County with his brother for 49 years. He currently lives in McLean, Va., but has a home in Charlottesville, where he attends as many Virginia football, basketball, and baseball games as he can.

A good, newsy note from Bill O’Connor discloses that at the end of 2010 he retired from his solo practice in Medford, Ore., and thereupon set out to write a long-contemplated two-volume novel about the American Revolution. It was published in late 2012 under the title At War in America, and it is available on Kindle and in hard copy from CreateSpace. Bill is now pursuing a different interest, the study of world mythology. Who would have guessed that our curriculum in the 1950s would inspire such production? To accommodate his wifeʼs own extensive legal career, the OʼConnors now live in Eugene, Ore., where Allie has an administrative position with the University of Oregon. Their children and nine grandchildren stretch from Virginia to Guam.

Tom and Mina Otis report from South Dartmouth, Mass., that they spent most of January and February in the far balmier climes of Boca Grande, Fla., with some golf and a lot of tennis on their agenda. They expected to continue on the golfing circuit in March at Yeamans Hall, near Charleston, S.C. Tough life, this retirement.

Foster Pettit sent along his regrets at not being able to attend our reunion. He is planning on joining his Woodberry Forest classmates of 1948, and “is working on being the last man standing.”

Ferd Salomon checked in from Pensacola, Fla., where, having attained the age of 83, he regularly plays golf “with some equally ancient Navy captains,” apparently more for the camaraderie than for the results. Over the years he has enjoyed “flying, small boat racing, motorcycling, and golf,” and he still engages in trap shooting, a hobby he has pursued for over 50 years, with distinction at the state and national levels. Did you know that while at the Law School Ferd had an interest in a Piper Cub and regularly took his wife and son on joy rides over the Shenandoah Mountains? The old man’s genes were obviously passed along to his son, Ferd III, who became a Navy aviator and retired as a captain with over 6,000 flying hours. Ferd’s granddaughter graduated from Stetson University Law School and successfully passed the Florida bar exam, but Ferd says, “I loved my years at Virginia and cannot envision going anywhere else.”

Bob Smith’s book, Law & Lawyers in the United States, was published by CreateSpace, and is available from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Bob kindly sent me a copy, and it is really quite unique, serving as a valuable and succinct primer on the elements of our constitutional, statutory, and common law, and the judicial systems of the federal government and the various states and territories. A simple perusal of the book reminds me that one is never too old to learn.

I have recently had two very pleasant luncheons with fellow classmates. The first was with Henry and Barbara Williams. Henry was in Florida for a short stay, escaping the wild winter of western New York. He is as active as ever, with skiing, sailing, tennis, singing, and the like occupying his time, although he recently sold his Mont Tremblant, Quebec, property after 30 years of skiing there. The second luncheon was with Stuart Brunet and Verne Hampton, both of whom spend much of the winter here in Vero Beach. Both appear to be in good shape and surviving this aging process nicely.

And on that note, I will end up with the substance of a note from Brad Miller, who regularly confounds me with what turn out to be (after consulting my Latin-English phrasebook) relevant observations on our times. Brad references the accomplishments of so many of our classmates and, ever overly modest, quotes Seneca:

“Often a man who is very old in years has no evidence to prove he has lived a long life other than his age.” But then he further quotes Seneca: “It better befits a man to laugh at life than to lament over it.”

So say we all.

UVA Lawyer Home