Chattanooga Lawyer, Former TBA President Dead at 74

Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA President Charles J. Gearhiser died Monday (June 17) at 74. A 1961 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Gearhiser was an original founder of the firm of Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon PLLC, where he practiced until his death. Early in his career, Gearhiser was law clerk to U.S. District Judge Frank W. Wilson, and served in that position during the historic Jimmy Hoffa trial in 1964. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Tennessee, and then as a part-time U.S. Magistrate. While in private practice, Gearhiser made a name for himself as a prolific litigator, trying over 100 cases before Tennessee juries. His areas of expertise included federal criminal defense, professional liability defense, and product liability, personal injury, commercial and business cases. Gearhiser also has worked to improve the profession, serving as president of the Chattanooga Bar Association, chair of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation, member of the Judicial Performance Program Committee and a charter member of the Tennessee chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He served as president of the TBA from 2001-2002 after serving on the association’s board of governors from 1999 to 2001 and during two earlier stints in 1992 and 1994.

Visitation will be held Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 E. Brainerd Rd., Chattanooga 37421. A service honoring his life will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Gearhiser’s late wife, Joy. Donations may be sent to 7625 Hamilton Park Dr., Suite 22, Chattanooga, TN 37421.