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Hugh Stockdell Meredith died June 30, in Savannah, Ga., at 102. Meredith joined Vandeventer & Black in Norfolk, Va., after graduating from the Law School and before volunteering for service in the U.S. Navy in 1941. He served aboard minesweepers in the Atlantic and South Pacific oceans during World War II—including having command of the USS Lucid in 1945. He returned to the law firm after the war and became a partner in 1949, after which the firm’s name changed to Vandeventer, Black & Meredith. He was married to Gwendolyn Maclin Simmons Meredith for 68 years until her death in 2017.
During Meredith’s legal career of nearly 50 years, he was regarded as one of the leading admiralty attorneys. Besides being prominent in his profession, he was active in his lifelong membership with Galilee Episcopal Church as vestry and involved with the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, St. Paul’s College and the Virginia Theological Seminary.
Stanley Schoenbaum writes that he retired from practice in 2014. His career started in 1950, after he was one of the first graduates of the master’s program in taxation at New York University School of Law. Following his service with the Office of the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service as a trial attorney in Atlanta, and then as a special attorney in the Legislation and Regulations Division of the IRS in Washington, D.C., Schoenbaum moved to San Antonio in 1958 to begin private practice, specializing in tax matters. He was one of the original founders of Schoenbaum, Curphy & Scanlan, which launched in 1974.
Jack P. Jefferies was selected to receive the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who.
Class Updates By Ted Torrance, Class Secretary Your scribe apologizes for having had an issue or two of UVA Lawyer published sans any notes from the Class of 1958. By way of reason, if not excuse, a bout in the hospital coupled with my increasing penchant for procrastination resulted in the news void.
There follows a summary of the information provided to me by classmates via a variety of media. Some of it may be a bit outdated, but it is hoped that, all in all, the tidbits of news will make for entertaining reading.
Stuart Brunet reports that he and Helen are still happily ensconced in their townhouse in Mendham, N.J., with both frequent bridge games and noncredit courses at nearby Drew University filling their time. On the side, they are overseeing the repopulation of the country with the birth of their first great-grandchild this past December.
Bill Bunting called to report that he is as super-busy as ever dealing with the care and maintenance of a large home in Princeton, N.J. Bill received Larry Grim’s vote (see material relating to Larry’s report on the 60th reunion) “as happiest among the very happy crew we all are” due to a stunning bride from Canada, a judgeship and, apparently, a boatload of clients.
Bob Dorsey recites the “wonderful experience” that Charlottesville and Southwest Virginia were for him. He notes that after graduation from the Law School he clerked at the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, and thereafter practiced in California, New York and Nevada. Bob is presently retired but active, still driving, attending church “and doing the things I wish to do.” And he has greatly assisted the economy: “I have had five children, four stepchildren, two granddaughters and three step-grandchildren.”
Bill Edwards, practicing in Corpus Christi, must take the yet-to-be-awarded Class of 1958 prize for recognition by one’s peers. In July, Bill was awarded the President’s Award of Merit by the Texas State Bar “for his 60 years of leadership in law and legal ethics,” and was the only recipient of the award last year. In an accompanying email, Bill notes that he is still maintaining a full trial docket.
Martin Flanagan reports on his narrow escape last fall from Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, the one that decimated much of the Bahamas. By his account, Martin “has retired three times: first from my law firm of 35 years — second from my son’s law firm after 21 years — and finally, retired from the Florida bar.” After recounting his travel-barring infirmities, Martin closes with: “It’s hell to get old!!! I would rather be practicing law than be retired! But so be it. My memories make me smile.” So say many of us, I am sure.
So now we come to the irrepressible Larry Grim. I hope to see Larry before long, as he is now living in what sounds like lovely quarters in Naples, Fla.
Larry attended, and took the time to chronicle, the events of our 60th reunion. It is a marvelous write-up and well worth reading, even after the passage of so much time after the reunion. In it are squibs and vignettes involving many of our classmates, including Doug Mackall, Tom Otis, John Merchant, Fred Landess, Fred Goldstein, Bill Bunting, Terry Davis and Ben Phipps. I urge any classmate who would like a copy of Larry’s opus to simply email me and I will send it off to you.
Bill Griesar reminisces about how fortunate we all were to attend the Law School. He recalls in particular the teaching style of Hardy Cross Dillard ’27, and how he had “an unusually sophisticated way of making a point.” Bill goes on: “And then, of course, there was Mortimer Caplin ’40, who I was convinced would live forever — and he almost did.” Bill recites his current extracurricular activities as being “our cottage in Maine in the summer,” books and movies, and his new hobby of oil painting: “I’m certainly an amateur, but the effort and concentration are a joy at my age.”
The Kentucky racetracks count their blessings, as Stuart “Blue” Jay says he has given up golf (probably inspiring some greenskeepers to count their blessings as well) and attends the local track three times a week. Blue’s “last known work” was as a domestic relations judge in three rural counties near Louisville. He is still happily married to Paula and enjoys their children living nearby.
Michael Kaplan has taken on the headache of serving on his co-op board in New York City, and he and his wife, Harriet, have endowed a professorship at the University of Vermont Medical School, in honor of Harriet’s father: examples of generosity in two disparate forms.
Editor’s Note: John Merchant died March 5. See story below.
John Merchant never fails to send along thoughtful, and thought-provoking, comments. He recites the enjoyment he derived from attending our 60th reunion, noting that it enabled him to connect with classmates he “did not get to know well, or at all, during our years [at the Law School] for several good reasons,” e.g., study obligations, and “some not-so-good reasons as well … I believe you understand.” Note to John: I believe that by now we all understand; would that we could relive those years.
John pays particular homage to his parents who, notwithstanding their having been limited to sixth grade educations, “in 1958 proudly observed their son accept a piece of paper, called a diploma, evidencing the validity of their faith” in John.
John proudly notes that his daughter, Susan Beth Merchant ’94, recently attended her 25th reunion at the Law School; she is the first black “legacy” student to attend the Law School.
God bless Brad Miller. Notwithstanding obvious physical infirmities that make his handwriting most difficult to decipher, he went to the pain of sending along a handwritten note wishing me well, for which I remain most appreciative. The efforts of his son to get Brad to move to Dallas, as reported in an earlier edition of this column, apparently have not borne fruit, as Brad’s return address is still Tampa, Fla.
Frank Norton reports from Sarasota, Fla., that for a good number of years he has been retired as president and then chairman of the boards of two insurance companies in West Virginia. He complains, albeit mildly, of various “small problems of health,” which may require him (at age 89) to give up golf.
Bill O’Connor and his wife, Allie, by now have presumably completed their downsizing move from Newport News, Va., to Tampa, Fla., planned for last fall. Bill says he has kept a local shredding company in business, disposing of a lifetime of accumulated files. All in all, Bill comments, “Life is good.”
Bob Smith asks us to keep an eye out for “West’s Tax Law Dictionary,” the 28th edition of which was due to be published in February, with Bob and his niece serving as co-authors.
Henry Williams sent along the Williams family annual Christmas newsletter, from which one may readily infer that sailing on Lake Ontario occupies a large portion of Henry’s leisure time. What time is left over is devoted in no small way to Henry’s 17 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Clearly an active family in all aspects.
A very pleasant telephone chat with Swan Yerger yielded the following (assuming my telephone notes are accurate): Swan and his wife relatively recently finished building a home in Fairhope, Ala., across the bay from Mobile and near the Gulf of Mexico. That project, and his family, occupy Swan’s spare time, now that he has retired as a Mississippi circuit court judge.
As for your scribe: I have experienced kind of a roller coaster of health issues over the past several years, probably not atypical of our age group. But at the moment everything seems to be under control, and even golf, as clunky as the game has become for me, is once again a part of my life. Who could complain? My wife of going on 60 years, Connie, and I have (sensibly) moved from a rather large, multi-staired home here in Vero Beach to a condominium on the Atlantic Ocean. Needless to say, the welcome mat is out for any 1958-ers wishing to renew an auld acquaintance.
As always, I invite class members to send along any information about themselves they might like to share with others, and I will see to its inclusion in the next available issue of UVA Lawyer. Warm regards to all. Ted
email@example.com (772) 234-6765 1250 W. Southwinds Blvd., #214 Vero Beach, FL 32963
John Merchant ’58, the first black graduate of the Law School and the first person of color to join the executive committee of the U.S. Golf Association, died March 5 after an extended illness. He was 87.
Merchant’s life was one dedicated to opening doors for others.
“My father was very passionate about his family, civil rights and golf,” his daughter, Susan Merchant ’94, said.
During his service to the USGA, from 1992-95, Merchant created development opportunities for aspiring minority golfers in the traditionally all-white sport. He also separately represented a young Tiger Woods as he transitioned from amateur to professional status.
Merchant retired as partner of the law firm Merchant and Rosenblum in Stamford, Conn., in the mid-1990s, thereafter continuing in solo private practice. He practiced both civil and criminal law for a total of about five decades.
“There were things he believed in very strongly, and I think that translated into this career as an attorney, and as a criminal defense lawyer,” Susan Merchant said. “He had an excellent reputation as a skilled trial lawyer, and he used that to help people.”
While in practice, he also helped encourage the next generation of UVA graduates with the creation of the Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund in 1987. Named after the first black graduate of the UVA student body, the fund continues to this day.
Merchant was a self-taught golfer, having picked up the game after law school as a communications officer in the Navy. He found he had natural talent.
“I borrowed some clubs and shot 105, my very first time,” he told the Connecticut Post — one of several interviews he gave the newspaper over time.
He reportedly enhanced his skills based on an instructional book by golf legend Ben Hogan.
Merchant entered legal practice in 1962, forming a law firm with future Connecticut Superior Court Judges L. Scott Melville and E. Eugene Spear, after firms in his native Greenwich rejected him, presumably based on his race.
He continued to play golf at Connecticut courses, and was a two-time club champion. However, he was denied the opportunity to play in a number of tournaments.
“You couldn’t get a certified handicap to play in any of the sanctioned events because you had to be a part of the men’s association and they wouldn’t let blacks join the men’s association,” he told the Post.
One tournament that he participated in, as part of a twosome, denied him a winning golf jacket, and instead offered him pro shop merchandise to compensate, he told a reporter.
By the 1990s, the USGA was coming under increased fire for its associations with clubs that maintained exclusionary policies. An attorney friend of Merchant’s floated his name for consideration to the executive committee. Merchant was serving as consumer counsel for the state of Connecticut at the time of his selection, in 1992.
“You should know I care about the game,” The Baltimore Sun reported Merchant telling his fellows upon induction. “There is not enough time to repay all I have gotten from the game. Benefits and values are wrapped up in relationships generated by participation. Among these things are friendships.”
Merchant made sure the new calls for inclusion in golf weren’t just lip service. He coordinated four symposiums, sponsored by sporting goods giants such as Nike and Titleist, for minority golfers to learn from, and communicate with, the pros.
In addition, his work appears to have helped inspire the First Tee Program, which encourages minority children’s interest in the game. Tim Finchem ’73 orchestrated the program early in his term as the PGA Tour’s commissioner of golf, from 1994 to 2016.
Merchant also became the legal representative for Tiger Woods, then in his late teens, and executive director of the National Minority Golf Foundation during the 1990s.
“My father always expressed to me that it was very important to him that Tiger be looked after,” Susan Merchant said. “He was going to be the first minority golfer of any real status, and my father knew he was going to need some people around him whom he could really trust.”
Having met Woods’ father at a USGA event, John Merchant’s advocacy led to Woods’ association with International Management Group and other connections that would undergird what would become the most lucrative career in the game. Merchant represented Woods, reportedly free of charge, before the golfer turned pro.
But Woods soon opted for new representation—a move that Merchant appeared to take in stride, at least in public comments.
Before joining the USGA committee, Merchant served on the U.S. Mid-Amateur’s committee and chaired both the U.S. Senior Open in 1987 and the U.S. Women’s Open in 1979.
In March 2010, he was inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport.
Merchant wrote about his life, detailing his time in the golf world and at UVA, for his book “A Journey Worth Taking: An Unpredictable Adventure.”
His enrollment at UVA Law began a year after the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and following the integration of UVA by law student Gregory Swanson in 1950. Between the demands of studying and the race-related social conflicts of the time period, it wasn’t easy to get to know his fellow UVA students.
“He had to be a lot about self-preservation, as anyone in that situation would be,” Susan Merchant said. “There certainly weren’t a lot people beating down his door trying to get into his study group.”
Nevertheless, Merchant attended his 50th and 60th UVA Law reunions, where he caught up with some classmates and got acquainted with others.
He also was the keynote speaker at his daughter’s Law School commencement in 1994. He took great pride in her being the first black “legacy” graduate of the Law School.
“If you had tried to tell him when he was there as a student that one day he would be standing in front of that crowd as the commencement speaker, as the keynote, he would’ve told you that you were crazy,” Susan Merchant said. “If you had tried to tell him that the guy who was No. 1 in his class would call him to make sure he came back for their 50th reunion, he wouldn’t have believed you.”
Merchant earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University in 1955, and received an honorary doctorate in laws from the university in 1998.
His daughter said lesser-known components of his life were equally important to his identity. He served as a liaison for the black community in the greater Bridgeport and greater Stamford areas of Connecticut in the 1960s and ’70s, including with the anti-poverty group Action for Bridgeport Community Development Inc. He also taught at Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University, both in Connecticut.
Merchant was the middle of three children. He is survived by Susan, a senior financial crime compliance officer in the banking industry, and his only child; his older sister Barbara Mitchell, and her children Dawn, Karen, Robin and Kip; his nephew, Todd Neal, son of his late sister Elizabeth Neal; and Tabitha Carter, his niece whom he considered a second child, and her son, Tyler, whom he considered his grandson.
The family planned a service for March 14 but hopes to have another remembrance ceremony in June for those unable to make it. In lieu of flowers, Susan Merchant asks that friends and family contribute to the Essie L. Merchant Fund, which is part of the Ridley Scholarships at the UVA Alumni Association.
Philip V. Moyles was selected to receive the Simon Bruté Medal this year. The medal, the highest award given by Mount St. Mary’s University, is bestowed on alumni who have distinguished themselves through their careers, commitment to their communities and the Mount, and service to their fellow citizens. Moyles was inducted into the school’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014.
Robert D. Chapin retired to an Episcopal continuing care retirement community, Deerfield, in Asheville, N.C. Chapin spent the first six years of his career in Cleveland, and the following 48 in his adopted hometown of Delray Beach, Fla. He welcomes visits from classmates visiting Asheville.
David O. Whittemore formally retired after 55 years of practicing law. He writes that he “enjoyed those years. And, now it’s nice to read the [Law School’s] magazine and note the amazing number of UVA Law graduates serving as clerks!”
Richard Glasser died March 14, 2019. He was 77. Glasser was a pioneer in the field of asbestos litigation and dedicated 43 years of his career to representing victims of asbestos disease. When he died, he was the senior partner in Glasser and Glasser, based in Norfolk, Va., where he practiced with his family and colleagues for 54 years and obtained a national reputation in the field of products liability litigation.
Throughout his life, Glasser was a beloved and highly respected member of the bar and served as president of the Tidewater Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Foundation. The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association honored him with its Courageous Advocacy Award for prevailing against huge odds to win numerous verdicts and settlements for his clients in spite of formidable opposing counsel and law that was initially adverse to litigants afflicted by a disease with a long latency period between exposure to asbestos and the onset of illness.
Glasser also earned his undergraduate degree from UVA in economics, completing it in three years. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
An active and generous alumnus of the Law School, he was involved in numerous charitable organizations in the Hampton Roads region.
“Literally thousands of people benefited from his professional and charitable endeavors, all with Richard’s warm personal engagement and kind demeanor,” the family writes. They add, “Richard’s mantra in life was ‘Do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason.’”
Glasser, who will also be remembered for the love he had for his close-knit family, is survived by his wife, Martha; his daughter and her husband; four grandchildren; two brothers; and one sister.
H. Anthony Medley’s book, “Learn to Play Bridge Like A Boss,” was published in September. Medley holds the rank of Silver Life Master, is an American Contract Bridge League club director, and has won regional and sectional titles.
John C. Rasmus was elected founding president of the John Knox Village Satellite Rotary Club.
John J. Kirby Jr. ’66, a longtime lawyer for Nintendo who worked at the Justice Department during a key moment in the civil rights era, died Oct. 2 of cancer. He was 79.
The Falls Church, Va., native served as chairman of the law firm Mudge Rose Gutherie, Alexandear & Fernsdon before joining the international law firm Latham & Watkins in 1995 to chair its New York litigation department.
In 1984, Kirby won a lawsuit for Nintendo against Universal City Studios, in which the studio alleged that the arcade game Donkey Kong infringed on the “King Kong” copyright. Both federal district and appeals courts ruled that “King Kong” was already in the public domain and any consumer confusion between the movie and the game would be inconsequential.
Donkey Kong launched Nintendo’s Mario franchise, the most successful in video game history.
Nintendo’s lead designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda, named a new video game character debuting in 1992 in part for Kirby.
“As we were going through the list and narrowing down the selections we saw that Kirby was there and we thought ‘John Kirby’s name is Kirby,’ and started thinking that if those two had a connection that would be kind of funny,” Miyamoto said in a 2011 interview with Game Informer.
The company also thanked their lawyer with a sailboat christened Donkey Kong.
In 1992, Kirby was part of a Nintendo legal team that successfully sued rival Atari for copyright infringement. He also successfully defended AOL and Nintendo in two separate patent infringement lawsuits against a now-defunct computer company and General Electric, respectively.
He retired from Latham & Watkins in 2007 as head of the New York office’s intellectual property and technology practice group.
Before he attended law school, as a summer intern at the U.S. Department of Justice, Kirby gathered voting records throughout the South that demonstrated evidence of widespread discrimination against African Americans, which helped spur passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He worked as special assistant to John Doar, head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. According to his obituary, Kirby personally escorted black children into segregated schools, surrounded by federal marshals.
At UVA Law, Kirby served as an editor with the Virginia Law Review and was a member of the Raven Society. The Rhodes Scholar received bachelor’s degrees from Fordham University in 1961 and Oxford University in 1964, and a master’s from Merton College at Oxford in 1967.
After law school, Kirby worked as an assistant professor at UVA Law for one year, and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968 in a case connected to a Law School seminar in appellate litigation.
He was later appointed deputy director to the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest, which concluded that the National Guard shooting at Kent State University in 1970 was unjustified.
Kirby served on the board of directors of The Legal Aid Society of New York and the Fund for Modern Courts. He spent 15 years on the board of Georgetown University, including as vice chairman, and served as president of the Merton College Charitable Corp. He also served on the board of Fordham University.
Kirby is survived by his wife of 15 years, Susan Cullman, and two sons and two daughters.
Former Virginia Gov. Gerald Baliles ’67, who later became director of UVA’s Miller Center, died of cancer in Charlottesville on Oct. 29. He was 79.
The Stuart, Va., native served in the House of Delegates from 1976 to 1982 until he was elected attorney general alongside Gov. Charles S. Robb ’73. Baliles resigned to run for governor and won, serving from 1986 to 1990 alongside Attorney General Mary Sue Terry ’73, the first woman to hold statewide office in Virginia.
Baliles’ term featured a particular focus on education, culminating in a historic National Summit on Education, held at UVA in 1989. The event featured President George H.W. Bush and then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.
Baliles, as governor, made notable strides for the state in transportation, economic competitiveness and environmental protection. He also appointed the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Virginia, Elizabeth B. Lacy LL.M. ’92.
“Governor Baliles modernized our roads, pushed environmental policies that understood economic growth and conservation go hand-in-hand, and led unprecedented international missions that laid the groundwork for Virginia to become the global trade hub it is today,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor, said in a statement. “Given the decades of Virginia prosperity these initiatives have enabled, it would not be hyperbole to say Jerry was one of the commonwealth’s most accomplished governors of the 20th century.”
After his term ended, Baliles went into private practice at Hunton & Williams (now Hunton Andrews Kurth) and also was appointed by President Clinton as co-chair of the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry. Baliles published the book “Preserving the Chesapeake Bay” in 1995.
Baliles led the Miller Center — a nonprofit affiliate of the University, dedicated to presidential scholarship, public policy and political history — from 2006 to 2014. In this role, he oversaw a series of commissions on competitiveness, entrepreneurialism, health policy and higher education, as well as the center’s Oral History Program on presidents and politicians.
In 2018, the Miller Center established the Gerald L. Baliles Professorship in Presidential Studies to honor the governor’s service and dedication to the organization and to promote nonpartisan and pragmatic study of the institution of the presidency.
“Jerry brought wisdom and integrity to everything he did,” Miller Center Director Bill Antholis said. “His record of service to the commonwealth and the nation is extraordinary. His commitment to the University and the Miller Center set the standard that we all strive to maintain.”
Baliles attended Fishburne Military Academy in Waynesboro, Va., and earned a bachelor’s in government from Wesleyan University in 1963.
—Mike Fox and Natalie Russell
William Donald Knight Jr. died Sept. 24. He was 78. Knight was a founder of the international law practice of King and Spalding, the Atlanta-based law firm, and longtime head of the firm’s international practice group.
Knight grew up in Tutwiler, a small village in the Mississippi Delta surrounded by cotton fields. He was “devoted to and deeply loved Jane Hall Harmon Knight, his life companion, best friend and wife for 56 years.” She survives him, as do his daughters and family members.
Knight authored “Structuring Foreign Investment in U.S. Real Estate,” which is widely considered the leading treatise on the subject. He published numerous articles in U.S. and foreign legal journals on the subjects of international law and taxation. During the last 25 years of his law practice, he focused on clients from Persian Gulf countries (primarily Kuwait), becoming an early innovator in the area of structuring investments with the West.
Together, he and his wife traveled widely in numerous countries where, in many cases, they had longtime friendships. Knight was for many years a member of the board of trustees of the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, where, among other things, he was instrumental in the exhibit of artifacts from the Kuwait National Museum titled “Islamic Art and Patronage/Treasures from Kuwait.”
J. William Lewis published an in-depth genealogy book, “Anthony Lewis of Isle of Wight County, Virginia and Lineal Descendants to George Robert Lewis.” Lewis makes special note of his family’s long ties to the University of Virginia: “My family seems to have been drawn back to the Old Dominion: Appropriately, Anthony Lewis was born in 1664 in Isle of Wight County. My grandson, Logan Wilson Mercer, is presently a first-year at the University of Virginia; his mother is also a UVA graduate and his father is a graduate of the Law School; and, just to demonstrate the lodestone effect, my nephew, M. Scott Lewis, is also a UVA graduate. You can’t get much more Wahoo than that!” Lewis and his wife, Lorraine Seaman Lewis, live in a suburb of Birmingham, Ala.