For a couple of hours March 18, members of the Chattanooga Bar Association set aside the practice of law to commemorate the judges and attorneys who died last year.
The presenters at the association’s annual memorial service wove a tapestry of rich details as they celebrated 16 lives at the Hamilton County Courthouse. Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton presided over the service.
“We’ve been blessed,” Atherton said in this opening remarks. “Those we’re honoring today were our peers, colleagues and friends. They were also leaders in our profession, community and places of worship.
“If we were to discuss the entirety of their impact, we’d be here until this time next year.”
Atherton also noted that the memorial was not an occasion for sadness. On the contrary, he said, it was an opportunity “to honor and respect to our departed brothers and sisters and to chuckle at their humanity.”
Red Bank Municipal Court Judge Johnny Houston accepted Atherton’s invitation to spark laughter as he presented the memorial he and attorney Lee Davis prepared for Stan Lanzo, who died Feb. 21, 2021.
“I came here in 1989 and rented a house from Stan,” Houston began. “He was a great landlord, although it took him awhile to learn my name. He once introduced my wife and I to one of his many girlfriends as ‘the tenants.’”
Houston was also the first to convey the sadness many in the room felt as he paused several times to gather his emotions while providing an account of Lanzo’s “heart of gold and soft spot for the less fortunate.”
“Each Christmas, Stan would ask for a list of children in local foster care and fulfill their entire wish lists. In particular, he made sure the older children received gifts, as he was afraid they might be overlooked.”
Houston’s closing statement combined both laughter and grief in a brief summation of the many names by which Lanzo was known.
“Stan left this world better than he found it and will be sorely missed. May you rest in peace: the man, the myth, the legend, the Italian Stallion.”
Hugh Pierce Garner
Attorney Alan Cates demonstrated how a strong and captivating voice can amplify the message of a memorial as he remembered the life of Hugh Pierce Garner, who died Feb. 10, 2021.
“Hugh embodied the best of faithful service and loyal dedication to the clients he represented and the highest standard of professionalism in the courts in which he appeared,” Cates said in a bold tone that filled the room. “He provided wise counsel, mentoring, leadership and, above all, faithful friendship to his colleagues and friends.”
The Hon. Mike Carter
The Hon. Clarence Shattuck was among several presenters who shouldered a precipitous challenge in summarizing the industrious life of a single person. Although he skipped passages of his lengthy tribute of the Hon. Mike Carter, Shattuck did find ways to pack the words he offered with detail and significance.
“Mike’s colleagues, friends and acquaintances described him with such superlatives as smart, loyal, committed, humble, honest, faithful and compassionate.”
As Shattuck painted his portrait of Carter – an attorney, judge and state legislator – in broad strokes, he included a few particulars that revealed his subject’s kindheartedness.
“On a Friday docket, a young female with a serious drug addiction was sentenced and placed on probation with Teen Challenge. The Chattanooga facility was full but there was an opening at the Alabama Teen Challenge. However, a medical exam was required before admission.
“By the time the exam was completed, it was too late to be admitted in Alabama that evening. Rather than allowing her to remain on the street, Mike and Joan let her spend the night with them and then drove her to Alabama on Saturday morning.”
Carter died May 16.
Paul Revere Leitner
In contrast to Shattuck’s sprawling commemorative, Greg Leitner presented a concise memorial of his father, Paul Revere Leitner, who died May 22, after practicing law at the firm of Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan for more than 60 years.
“His primary lifelong passions in life were his Christian faith, the practice of law, his family and running,” Leitner said.
Leitner skipped several lengthy lists of his father’s professional, personal and community achievements, which ranged from being named the Chattanooga Jaycees’ Young Man of the Year in 1957, to receiving the Chattanooga Bar Association’s Jac Chambliss Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, to completing 25 marathons across the U.S.
The full version of the memorial will be available on the CBA’s website at a future date.
Charles Kenneth Still
The archive will also include the complete resolution for Charles Kenneth Still, the longtime bankruptcy trustee in Chattanooga and the only person memorialized who was not a member of the CBA.
“His service for almost five decades as the standing trustee for Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases weaves his story into the histories of many of our past and present members who practiced bankruptcy law in Chattanooga and Winchester,” explained the Hon. Shelley Rucker, who prepared and presented Still’s memorial.
In closing, Rucker said, “Kenneth was a legend. He trained more bankruptcy attorneys in the Chattanooga area than you could imagine. He commanded an audience of debtors, creditors and their attorneys at tightly packed meetings of creditors and could mediate a creditor objection with just a few words. He knew how to sniff out undisclosed property and nefarious motives. He was proud of any debtor who completed a plan because he understood the effort it required. He loved being a trustee and it showed.”
Attorney John Buhrman used personal anecdotes to draw a picture of his father, Richard Buhrman, who died Aug. 9.
“He loved making breakfast,” Buhrman wrote. “His specialty was homemade pancakes, which his granddaughter Cameron says are so good that when you die and go to heaven, the first thing you get to eat are Grandpa B’s chocolate chip pancakes.”
Cates read Buhrman’s memorial of his late father.
Susan Gail Sisson
Bob Batson followed suit as he presented the memorial the firm of Miller & Martin prepared for its longtime director of library services, Susan Gail Sisson, who died Aug. 18.
“Gail loved books,” Batson noted. “She bought them, checked them out, catalogued them, loaned them, retrieved them, mended them, surrounded herself with them and – when necessary – guarded them carefully. Above all, she read them.
“As a book lover and a lover of language, it’s not surprising that Gail was intelligent, thoughtful and wise. She had a wry sense of humor and a keen wit. In conversation, she often delivered, with a barely perceptible smile, a seemingly offhand comment that later, on reflection, yielded deeper and even unexpected meaning.”
Gregory Steven Treadway
CBA 2022 President Lee Ann Adams prepared and presented the memorial for Gregory Steven Treadway, who died Aug. 28.
Treadway began practicing law in 2015 after working for several decades as a Fortune 500 business leader, corporate executive, real estate broker, professional speaker and adjunct lecturer.
After Adams itemized Treadway’s career, she said, “Gregg’s decades of experience in the corporate world positively impacted and influenced his legal practice. Reflecting on his practice, Gregg once said, ‘Being a good attorney involves understanding just as much about life as you do about the law. My clients benefit from all the lessons I learned from the challenges life has tossed my way.’”
Attorney Gerard Siciliano summarized the life of Carl Anderson with the fewest words of all the presenters. But his portrayal of Anderson, which detailed his experience as an aerial photographer with the Air Force in Saigon during the Tet Offensive and his history of health problems due to his exposure to Agent Orange, contained memorable details.
After sharing the specifics of Anderson’s long marriage and large family, Siciliano wrapped up his simple tribute by saying, “Carl was a diligent and competent lawyer.”
David Edward Patterson
The Hon. Sherry Paty presented the memorial the Hon. Russell Bean prepared in honor of David Edward Patterson, who died Sept. 2.
The testimonial compelled the older members of the bar to dig into the deep recesses of their memories to recall Patterson, who practiced with Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams for only two years in the 1960s before leaving the legal profession to join his father-in-law, Wallace Clements, in the antique business.
“The two attorneys [at Spears Moore] that remember David are Tom Kale and Fred Moore, Jr. Both say he was a good lawyer.”
John Richard Anderson
The Hon. Kyle Hedrick prepared and delivered the memorial for John Richard Anderson, who died Nov. 20.
After referring to Anderson as “prominent and respected lawyer” and “one of the most knowledgeable real estate attorneys in Chattanooga,” Hedrick said Anderson’s guiding principle in both the law and life was, “Do the right thing” – whether he was building a housing development or shopping center or devoting time to his community and family.
“[John’s] ... life and actions improved the world and community around him. Although his family and friends feel his loss each and every day, his memory and ideals continue to inspire us.”
While presenting the memorial Sandra McCrea prepared for Donald Strickland, who died Nov. 23, attorney John Konvalinka noted that although his partner at Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison was a “son, brother, musician, soldier, student, skydiver, lawyer, partner, thespian, coach, sportsman, adventurer, friend, husband [and] father,” he was a born lawyer.
“[Don] ... loved nothing so much as a good argument. He had a very competitive spirit but he also believed in fairness and held himself to high ethical standards. While some considered him gruff and demanding, he never asked more of anyone than he was willing to give himself.”
As Konvalinka continued to read McCrea’s tribute, he noted that Strickland was “quick-witted, knowledgeable [and] ... an excellent trial lawyer.
“But most of all,” Konvalinka concluded, “Don was beloved.”
As Atherton called on Tom Horne to deliver the memorial Horne and Chris Clem prepared for Johnny Woodruff, who died Nov. 28, he jokingly insisted Horne deliver the tribute in the “lowest-possible voice.”
“There’s no way I can match Johnny’s baritone voice,” Horne smiled. “I’m not even going to try.”
Horne didn’t try to sing, either, even though he said his friend was known for his “deep, resonant singing voice,” especially at First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, where he sang in the choir.
Woodruff was known for many other things, Horne said, including his boisterous laugh, his Christian faith and his commitment to his wife and son, but Horne’s most poignant comment came as he described Woodruff’s love for his profession.
“Whenever Johnny felt down or discouraged, he could always count on a simple trip to the courthouse to lift his spirits. He came alive when he was in the company of his legal colleagues and considered it the honor of a lifetime that he got to practice law and litigate.”
Sheri Fox prepared the memorial for Bill Hall, who died Dec. 27. Peter Ensign delivered the tribute, which traced Hall’s career from his service as a U.S. Marine, to his days as a police officer in Aurora, Illinois, to his tenure as a criminal justice professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, to his years as a solo practitioner, to his career-capping stint as an assistant district attorney in Hamilton County.
Of Hall, Fox wrote, “Bill always wanted to help and do what he believed to be right. In his succinct way, he would get right to the point of how a matter should be resolved and work out the details later. His clients benefited from that focus on what was right and possible.”
The Hon. Herschel Franks
As Judge John McClarty presented the memorial he and attorney Jerry Summers prepared for the Hon. Herschel Franks, who died March 19, 2020, at the age of 89, he noted that at the time of his retirement in 2012, Franks was the longest serving state court judge in Tennessee’s history.
Franks and Summers devoted the greater part of their tribute to the noteworthy cases over which Franks presided, including one involving James Earl Ray, the assassin of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
“Ray had filed a pro se petition against two of his habeas corpus lawyers, who he claimed refused to turn over his file after he fired them. The case was eventually settled between the parties upon the return of the file. Ironically, when the court-appointed lawyer turned the file over to him at the state penitentiary in Nashville, Ray remarked that “it was the only time he had won anything in a court of law.’”
As McClarty brought his memorial of Franks to a conclusion, he declared that the late judge was a pillar of Hamilton County and the State of Tennessee and a model of decorum in every aspect of his life.
“In the letter Judge Franks sent to Gov. Bill Haslam announcing his retirement, he said, ‘Words cannot adequately express my heartfelt and sincere appreciation for Tennessee’s voters who have elected me as one of their judges in seven elections.’
“I say to you, Judge Franks, it is us, the citizens of Tennessee, who should express to you our heartfelt thanks and sincere appreciation for the service you rendered this great state of ours.”
Judy Wood Franks
McClarty also presented the memorial he prepared for Franks’ late wife, Judy Wood Franks, who died Aug. 26.
Of Franks, who served as a judicial law clerk and as a staff attorney for the Tennessee Supreme Court, McClarty said simply, “ As a beloved mother, grandmother, wife, sister, niece, cousin and friend, Judy is remembered for discerning intellect, quiet eye for beauty, and her love of the law, literature, poetry, knitting and Southern arts and crafts.”
After the tapestry of details was complete, Adams presented a motion to file the memorials into the archives of the CBA and enroll them in the memorial resolution book of the circuit and chancery courts of Chattanooga.
After Atherton granted the motion, the members of the CBA returned to the practice of law, carrying the memories of the judges and attorneys who died last year and the ways in which their lives continue to motivate and encourage others with them.