Just as memories of the attorneys who passed away in 2015 have been etched into the hearts of those who knew them, so have their memorials been recorded in the minutes of the Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA), where they will be preserved alongside memorials dating back to the founding of the CBA in 1897.
Once a year, the members of the CBA gather in the County Commission Room of the Hamilton County Courthouse to memorialize the attorneys and judges who passed away the preceding year. This year’s service was held Friday, March 4.
It was, as the Hon. Christie Sell, president of the CBA, said during her opening remarks, “a time to honor the loved ones and colleagues” who have passed on. It was also, as Dr. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., senior pastor of First Centenary United Methodist Church, said during his invocation, a time of celebrating and remembering the loved ones “who have made many meaningful and purposeful contributions to this community.”
Following Dr. Fairbanks’ prayer, ten people took turns memorializing the 11 attorneys who passed away in 2015, including Robert M. Addison; James Gentry; Josiah Baker; John W. Dietzen; John Lee Alley; Gary K. Bond; Donald E. Warner, Sr.; H. Alan Arfken, Jr.; James Caldwell Lee; Pat St. Charles, Jr.; and Bruce H. Guthrie, II.
Here are portions of each memorial:
Robert M. Addison
Jan. 9, 2015
“Both his childhood and his adult life were underscored by his sharp intellect, his ever-present wit, and his tendency to pursue just enough mischief to keep every situation interesting. The admiration and love so many people held for Mark had little to do with his professional accomplishments. Instead, everyone who knew Mark was drawn to him on account of the simple fact that he genuinely loved life, he cared about the well-being of others, and he would always take time to help those around him with whatever task they presented.” – resolution prepared and presented by Ryan W. Barry.
Feb. 10, 2015
“Jim was an absolutely fearless litigator. He was always prepared and represented his clients to the best of his ability. Jim loved his family and friends, the U.S. Marine Corps, bonefishing, and playing golf. He also shared a special love for his alma mater, the University of the South, where he and his wife, Peggy, established a scholarship fund. Jim was a stalwart member of our firm, one we love and deeply respect.” – resolution prepared and presented by Dean Clements
Feb. 10, 2015
“I was always impressed by Jodie’s deep knowledge of the law, his intelligence, his thoroughness, his attention to details, his work ethic, and his generosity, as well as his desire to provide quality legal service to our clients. Jodie was a great mentor and friend. He was also a perfectionist who could be demanding, but that trait challenged all of us to give our best and to be better lawyers. Ultimately, Jodie had a kind and gentle heart, and he was my friend. We will miss him.” – resolution prepared and presented by N. Mark Kinsman
John W. Dietzen
March 17, 2015
“He was a consummate lawyer. The lawyer’s lawyer. But as good a lawyer as he was, he was a better man. He was unbelievably generous to everyone he knew, usually to a fault. True to his generous nature ... Bill’s life was marked with service to others. I believe Bill would tell you his greatest success and joy in life was the almost 60 years of marriage he shared with Wilma and the raising of their two children. Thanks be to God for the life of Bill Dietzen.” – resolution prepared and presented by Fielding H. Atchley, Jr.
John Lee Alley
April 1, 2015
“John loved the law … [and] being a practicing attorney. He took great pride in his defense of the Bill of Rights and was instrumental in several prominent constitutional law cases in the city. John was very much a free-thinker … [and] was proudly involved with the ACLU. He has a very dry sense of humor, and was devoted to his two children. One of his greatest joys in life was spending time with his grandchildren. John had a generous spirit and an immense devotion to and love for his family, and will be greatly missed.” – resolution prepared by Sam Jones and presented by Nora McCarthy
Gary K. Bond
April 27, 2015
“Gary loved his family above all else. He was a great father, grandfather, son, husband, and brother. He was kind, gentle, caring, thoughtful, and devoted. Gary worked for Mr. Felton for 30 years, and never heard him speak an unkind word about anyone. Gary was the most humble and selfless person I’ve met. If you wanted to be happy and share in the brighter side of life, all you had to do was strike up a conversation with Gary.” – resolution prepared by Glenn Felton and presented by Nora McCarthy
Donald E. Warner, Sr.
May 15, 2015
“He was a consummate trial lawyer … [who] took great delight in skillful argument and advocacy. Don was able to analyze complex issues and reduce them to their essence so they could be effectively communicated. His demeanor in the courtroom was always that of a gentleman, and his noble voice still reverberates in this courthouse. Don never turned down a fellow attorney who was seeking advice on a legal issue. He loved questions of trial strategy and practice, and many members of the profession sought his advice on the evaluation of cases. Don was a loving father, husband, son, and sibling. He sought fulfillment in his work on the family garden and took great pride in his annual harvest of Big Boy tomatoes. Don had many friends, and often said, ‘To have a friend, you must be a friend.’ We in the cities of East Ridge and Chattanooga have been honored and blessed, and in his passing have sustained a grievous personal loss.” – resolution prepared and presented by Thomas A. Williams
H. Alan Arfken, Jr.
June 14, 2015
Early in his career, Alan established himself as a brilliant labor lawyer. He had a great love of technology. He founded and chaired the technology committee of the CBA, [and] helped to establish its first web page. He spent countless hours assisting the CBA on a number of projects requiring his expertise in technology. Alan also gave countless hours to the Chattanooga community, [including] actively participating in political campaigns. Alan spent much of his life giving to others, [as] he was generous to a fault. Alan loved and often spoke of his family. He is sorely missed.” – resolution prepared and presented by Harry B. Ray
James Caldwell Lee
July 19, 2015
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘lawyer’s lawyer,’ and that’s what Jimmy Lee was. He once told me that when he started practicing law, now more than 65 years ago, he thought the only way to make a living was to have a stream of hurt people or to represent a bank or an insurance company. He had none of the above. But he also told me he learned he could make a good living doing work for other lawyers. The secrets were: one, do it well; and two, return the client. If you knew him, you know I couldn’t do him justice. If you didn’t know him, then you missed one of the really good things about the local bar.” – resolution prepared and presented by Paul Campbell, III
Pat St. Charles, Jr.
Sept. 28, 2015
“Pat made a concerted effort to put into practice the principle of doing right, even when it was not popular or no one would notice. On more than one occasion, a business associate noted a time when Pat stood up for them during a difficult time. Pat valued church, family, and friends, and his life exemplified these values.” – resolution prepared and presented by Michael N. St. Charles
Bruce H. Guthrie, II
Nov. 20, 2015
“I am honored to pay tribute to my friend, Bruce Henderson Guthrie II, who departed this life on Nov. 20, 2015, at 55 years – a time too soon. I first met Bruce after I was admitted to the bar. I was impressed by his enthusiasm and legal insights. Bruce was a man of great love and passion. He loved the law. He was grateful the law had given him the opportunity to help the little man. His concern for the less fortunate inspired him to take cases that others attorneys would not consider. Bruce loved America … [and] its system of government. Bruce [also] loved his family [and] his clients, often visiting those incarcerated long after his representation was over. Bruce loved helping those in need. He sometimes helped with his legal skills, but often he just rolled up his sleeves and did whatever needed to be done. Bruce loved and was intensely loyal to his friends. [But] Bruce’s greatest love was Jesus. Every time we got in the car, Bruce would remind me that one of us needed to pray for safe travel and that we would be a blessing to the people with whom we dealt in court. Bruce H. Guthrie II will be remembered with fondness and gratitude.” – resolution prepared and presented by Arthur C. Grisham, Jr.
In closing, Dr. Fairbanks offered a benediction in which he offered thanks for the opportunity to “celebrate the rich heritage and the lives of those who willingly gave of themselves, and of their gifts, to the well-being of this community.”