Judge Roger Hugh Lawson, Jr.

Judge Roger Hugh Lawson, Jr.

Credit: Legacy

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Credit: Legacy

šŸ“·LAWSON, Jr., Hon. Roger Judge Roger Hugh Lawson, Jr. was born in Hawkinsville, Georgia, on September 23, 1941, the son of Barbara Daniel Lawson and Roger Hugh Lawson. He was gathered to his fathers on March 29, 2024. Except for his college and law school years, he lived in Hawkinsville all his life. His childhood home was populated primarily by women: his mother, his grandmothers, his great-aunt, his fatherā€™s secretary and five sisters. He was fond of quoting his fatherā€™s observation that there are only two things a man needs to know to keep women happy, but no one knows what they are. But the Lawson men knew a good thing when they saw one, and their days were happily masculine with a heavy dose of feminine flavor at home. The Lawson sisters are Mrs. Rena McCune of Newnan, Mrs. Nancy Peterson of Vidalia, Mrs. Harriet Towe of Eatonton, Mrs. Starr Lee of Rock Hill, SC, and Mrs. Matilda Revell also of Rock Hill. Hugh Lawson was educated in the Pulaski County public schools, Emory University and his fatherā€™s law office. At Emory he was a member of the Chi Phi fraternity and the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. He was not a member of Phi Beta Kappa or the Order of the Coif, nor did he struggle with his failure to make the academic deanā€™s list for two consecutive quarters (or any other quarter, for that matter). The Dean of Men kept another list on which his name was prominently featured occasionally, but a curtain will be charitably drawn over that. In December, 1964, he finished his law work at Emory and returned to Hawkinsville, entering into practice with his father, who was his best friend, law partner and mentor. To say that they had a good time together would be like describing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as a vocal group. They handled anything that came through the door except bankruptcy and tax matters. They worked hard, were unusually successful, abused tobacco and (if they felt the occasion warranted) drank a good deal of whiskey. All in all, it was a great life. When the U.S. Supreme Court entitled all persons charged with felonies to counsel at public expense, Hugh joined Duross Fitzpatrick of Cochran as the first two public defenders of the Oconee Judicial Circuit. During his years as a practicing lawyer, Hugh served as Chairman of the Pulaski County Board of Education and was a member of the Georgia Board of Industry and Trade in the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. He served for twenty-five years on the board of directors of the Pulaski Banking Company and was for a time the bankā€™s president. He was a Mason, a Shriner, a Rotarian and a member of the Gridiron Secret Society. He enjoyed initiations. He was a member of Palaver Group Four in Macon, his papers for which were models of plagiarism but entertaining and instructive nevertheless. In 1979, Hugh was appointed to the Superior Courts of the Oconee Judicial Circuit. He held this position for nearly seventeen years. He worked first with Judge James B. Oā€™Connor whom he revered, and later with Judge Phillip R. West, who was his great friend and with whom he never had a cross word. While on the superior court bench, Judge Lawson was president of the Council of Superior Court Judges, Administrative Judge of the Eighth Judicial District, and a member of the Judicial Council of Georgia, the Georgia Board of Court Reporters, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission and the Judicial Qualifications Commission of Georgia. Judge Lawson enjoyed trying cases and routinely accepted assignments and invitations to hold court across the state. For a time Hugh entertained ambitions to be translated to the Supreme Court of Georgia. In this he was spectacularly unsuccessful, but as is often the case the cloud of this failure had a silver lining. In April, 1995, following his nomination by Senator Sam Nunn, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. Judge Lawson later acknowledged his debt to Governor Zell Miller for thrice declining to appoint him to the supreme court. On the federal bench Judge Lawson joined his dear friend, Judge Duross Fitzpatrick, who had been appointed to the federal bench ten years earlier, and they continued their comradeship as judicial officers until Judge Fitzpatrickā€™s death in 2008. Judge Lawson served as Chief Judge of the Middle District, as president of the Eleventh Circuit District Judges Association and as a director of the Federal Judgesā€™ Association. He became a senior judge of the Middle District in 2009. Judge Lawson was a lifelong member of the Hawkinsville First United Methodist Church. He liked to say that his family had been Methodists since the Crucifixion. He served on most of the committees and taught Sunday school for thirty-five years. He was a trustee of the South Georgia Conference, the Foundation of the South Georgia Conference, and the Foundation of the Methodist Home for Children and Youth. A religious man in his own way, he had more questions than answers about his faith and regarded dogmatic religious fundamentalists as simplistic and shallow. But at the end of the day his faith in God was founded on solid rock. Judge Lawson was married twice: first to Sydney Davis of Atlanta, with whom he had three children. In 1977, he discovered that Indiana was a hotbed of classy, high-octane, low-maintenance women and on December 25 of that year he married Barbara Boots of Crawfordsville, who proved to be as advertised. She was a domestic paragon, a dedicated musician and the ideal wife. Her ebullient disposition, delight in domestic creativity and insistence on cleanliness and order resulted in a haven of tranquility, pleasure and repose for her husband and family. She brought as dowry three more small but loud and hyperactive children. Dowry notwithstanding, Judge Lawson said that as he had underwritten the expense of raising and educating all these children, they all belonged to him and he loved them equally. In fact, he said, each was his favorite child. The children are Sabra, married to Martin Neff, of Telfair County; Nancy, married to Stephen Remler, of Savannah; Harley, married to Nichole, of Hawkinsville; Dawn, married to Jim Taylor, of Lawrenceville; J.D., married to Jamie, of Hawkinsville; and Jeff, married to Betsy, of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Judge Lawson lived his life with few regrets. He admitted to frequent mistakes, paid for them and moved on having learned his lessons without dwelling on the tortures of hindsight. He conducted his affairs with the confidence of a Christian holding four aces. For the most part he felt that he had received the desires of his heart and that he had been more fortunate than most. He pondered the inequities of life and realized that he had been tremendously blessed. He enjoyed books and reading, fishing, shooting, camping, cutting firewood, piddling around on his farm, dogs, judging, ardent spirts and entertaining family. He despised obituaries written by funeral home hacks (he said that anyone who wrote that his memory would be ā€œforever treasuredā€ should be shot) and wrote his own. His last conscious thought was, ā€œBarbara.ā€ Services will take place at 2 PM, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at the Hawkinsville First United Methodist Church with Rev. Jack Varnell, Dr. Rick Lanford, Judge Marc Treadwell and Mr. Harley F. Lawson. The family will greet friends immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the following: Hawkinsville First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 434, Hawkinsville, GA 31036, or to the Methodist Home for Children and Youth, P.O. Box 2525, Macon, GA 31204. Please view or sign the online memorial at www.clarkfuneralhawkinsville.com Clark Funeral Home has the privilege of handling arrangements.

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