Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 1, 2021

Journal Issue Date: March/April 2021

Journal Name: Vol. 57 No. 2

George Harrison Cate Jr., the first vice mayor of Metro Nashville and longtime community leader, died Dec. 18, 2020, at the age of 92. A 1951 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, Cate began his legal career as a partner with his father. In the 1960s, he was instrumental in the creation of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. In 1962, he was elected the first vice mayor of Metro Nashville. He also served on the Metro Nashville Board of Education, including as chair. After leaving public service, Cate remained dedicated to promoting and preserving the history of Nashville government. Memorial contributions may be made to West End United Methodist Church, Vanderbilt University, Alive Hospice or the charity of one’s choice.

Former Collierville and Germantown city attorney Tom Cates died Dec. 23, 2020, at 79. Cates earned his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School and practiced law for 48 years before retiring from Burch, Porter & Johnson in 2013.  He became attorney for Germantown in 1991 and for Collierville in 1995, holding both positions until his retirement. During his time as Germantown attorney, Cates helped the city negotiate the development of Wolf River Boulevard and was a key legal adviser in the formation of municipal school districts in Shelby County suburbs.

Robert “Bob” Newman Covington, former professor at Vanderbilt Law School, died Nov. 29, 2020, at 84. Covington received his undergraduate degree from Yale before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School in 1961. He taught labor and employment law for 46 years until his retirement in 2007. He received Vanderbilt’s Thomas Jefferson Award in 1992, and when the law school was expanded and renovated in the early 2000s, the Covington Room was named in his honor. Donations in Covington’s memory may be made to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee “Covington Quality of Life Fund,” which supports the Nashville symphony, opera, ballet and the Frist Art Museum; Vanderbilt Law School; or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Clarksville lawyer Alex Whitefield Darnell died Nov. 24, 2020. He was 91. Darnell attended Vanderbilt University Law School. After graduation, he served two years in Germany with the U.S. Army and then returned to Clarksville where he was in private practice until he was appointed clerk and master of Montgomery County Chancery Court. He was appointed chancellor of what was then the 6th Chancery District and served more than 20 years on the bench. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Sarah Howser Darnell History Scholarship Endowment at Austin Peay State University or Urban Ministries Safe House in Clarksville.

Memphis lawyer Robert Louis Green died Jan. 24. He was 92. Green earned his law degree from Tulane Law School in 1956 and afterward was invited to join the law practice of Charles L. Neely. He was a partner at Neely, Green & Fargarson for many years, focusing primarily on litigation, before ending more than 60 years of legal practice with Allen, Summers, Simpson, Lillie & Gresham. Green was a past president of the Memphis Bar Association and was selected for the Judge Jerome Turner Lawyer’s Lawyer award in 2005. He also received the Pillars of Excellence award from the University of Memphis Alumni Chapter in 2011. He served with the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners for 19 years and frequently volunteered with Memphis Area Legal Services. Donations may be made in Green’s honor to a veterans’ organization of the donor’s choice.

Memphis attorney Virginia Watson Griffee died Dec. 11, 2020. While in law school at the University of Memphis, Griffee served as comments editor on the Law Review. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Harry Wellford on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. She then worked as an associate attorney for Armstrong Allen, and later as in-house counsel for Great Western Consumer Finance Group until the early 1990s. At the time of her death, Griffee was a solo practitioner, specializing in estate planning, wills and trusts, probate and elder law.

Knoxville lawyer Emily Arline Winchester Guyton died Jan. 30 at age 87. She graduated from the University of Tennessee College Law despite facing questions about whether the law was an appropriate profession for a woman and mother. Guyton opened a solo practice and later joined Myron Ely to form the firm of Ely, Hogin & Guyton.  Later she and her son-in-law Matthew Frère formed Guyton & Frère, joined soon thereafter by her daughter, Kelly Guyton Frère. Guyton also served as a special judge in the Knoxville circuit and chancery courts. She retired in 2004. Guyton participated in the Knoxville Bar Association’s Legal History Video project, which can be found on the KBA website. Memorial donations may be made to the Dr. James R. Guyton Jr. Leadership Scholarship Endowment c/o Bethel University, Office of the President, 325 Cherry Ave., McKenzie, TN 38201. The fund supports health care personnel serving rural communities.

Memphis Municipal Judge Teresa Jones, 61, died Jan. 2 after a battle with cancer. Jones earned her law degree from the University of Memphis and served as an adjunct professor there. She also served as a former Shelby County Schools board member and chair of the board, as well as chief city prosecutor. Jones was appointed to the Memphis Municipal Court in 2018 to fill a vacancy. She ran for the seat in the general election, winning with 73% of the vote. Jones sat on the Memphis Area Legal Services board and served as a member and past chair of the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. The family requests memorial donations be directed to Lane College in Jackson.

Longtime Vanderbilt Law School professor Allaire Urban Karzon died Jan. 24 at age 95. Karzon earned her law degree from Yale Law School and first worked at the U.S. Department of Justice. After moving to Nashville, she served as counsel to Performance Systems Inc. and Aladdin Industries and practiced as a partner at Neal Karzon and Harwell. She joined Vanderbilt’s law faculty as a lecturer in 1971 and taught tax law until retiring in 1995. She was the school’s first tenured female law professor. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Visiting Nursing Association of Western New York Inc.

Dayton City Judge James Wendell McKenzie died Jan. 2 at 76. A 1971 graduate of the Cumberland School of Law, McKenzie first practiced law with his father until 1998, when he was elected as the first Rhea County Family Court judge. He later served as attorney for Dayton and Rhea counties and city judge for Graysville and Spring City. The grandson of Ben G. McKenzie — who was prominent in the prosecution of John T. Scopes in the landmark 1925 Scopes Trial — McKenzie often was cast in the role of his grandfather for the county’s annual reenactment of the trial. Donations may be sent to the First Baptist Church of Dayton’s Benevolent Fund.

Nashville lawyer David Young Parker Sr. died Jan. 23 after contracting the COVID-19 virus. He was 79. After earning his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School in 1966, Parker practiced law for 53 years, working for Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company, the State of Tennessee and GENESCO before entering private practice in 1975. Parker was also an adjunct professor at David Lipscomb College and served as a judge in Vanderbilt’s Moot Court. He sat on the board of directors for the Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society and was chairman emeritus of the Historical Committee and the Memorial Service Committee of the Nashville Bar Association. Donations may be made to the Second Harvest Food Bank or the Nashville Inner City Ministry.

Charles “Chuck” Edward Racine of Gallatin died Dec. 28, 2020, at 83. Originally from Chicago, Racine earned his law degree from the University of Toledo Law School in 1967 and started his career with the former First National Bank of Toledo. He and his family later moved to Gallatin where he opened a private practice.

Johnson City lawyer T. Craig Smith died Jan. 8 at 54. A 2003 graduate of the Nashville School of Law, Smith practiced as a criminal law attorney in Nashville and Johnson City. He also served in the Tennessee National Guard with the 176th Maintenance Battalion and served with his unit during Operation Desert Storm.

Memphis attorney John J. Thomason died Dec. 24, 2020, at 91. Thomason earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1952 and, after graduating, served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps until 1955. In 1967, he helped found Crawford, Thomason and Hendrix, which became Lewis Thomason in 2014. During his years in practice, he tried hundreds of jury trials in both state and federal jurisdictions. In 2002, after 50 years of practicing law, he retired. Thomason also was a prolific writer and went on to author three books.