Supreme Court, Mississippi Bar hold memorial service
October 11, 2023
The Mississippi Supreme Court and the Mississippi Bar on Oct. 10 honored the lives and service of 91 lawyers who died during the past year. Chief Justice Mike Randolph presided as eight of the nine Justices convened for the annual Bar Memorial Service in the En Banc Courtroom in Jackson.
Mississippi Bar President Jenny Tyler Baker in her eulogy said, “These individuals we celebrate and grieve today are part of our collective history. They are the history of our state. They are the history of our profession. But more importantly, they were family members.”
“They were trailblazers” she said, noting the death of Presiding Justice Kay Cobb, the second female justice to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Justice Kenneth Griffis in a response on behalf of the Court said, “We celebrate a Supreme Court Justice, several accomplished and beloved trial court judges, several distinguished legislators, a General, other elected officials, Bar leaders, accountants, volunteer firemen and flight instructors, and we are grateful that so many served our country in the military.” He noted personal ties, among them a law professor under whom he studied, and a lawyer with whom he practiced. “Some were close friends whom I miss greatly, who left us way too soon.”
“These beloved women and men were musicians, poets, artists, photographers, pilots, Boy Scouts, master chefs and animal rights activists. Their hobbies included football, baseball, boating, fishing, opera, poker, traveling, and of course one of my favorites – ZZ Top.” The latter referred to the late DeSoto County Court and Youth Court Judge Mills Barbee of Hernando, who was a huge fan of the Little Ol’ Band from Texas.
Justice Griffis said, “The women and men we celebrate today made a significant contribution to our justice system. Often, these contributions were rarely noticed and, maybe, even not appropriately appreciated. Looking over the names of those we celebrate today, I know that they have made a significant difference during their lives.”
Mississippi Bar President-Elect Meade Mitchell read each name with a measured cadence, and read a Memorial Resolution which concluded, “Whereas, in the reading of these names of our departed colleagues, we express our admiration, respect and deepest gratitude for their service to our profession and for enriching our lives and communities with their friendship.”
Other public officials among the deceased are Rankin County and Youth Court Judge Thomas H. Broome of Brandon, former District Attorney Joyce I. Chiles of Itta Bena, Hinds County Court Judge LaRita M. Cooper-Stokes of Jackson, former Sen. Joe Clay Hamilton of Meridian, former Rep. Betty Jane Long of Meridian, retired Major General Alben N. Hopkins of Gulfport, retired Major General and Chancellor Terrill “T.K” Moffett of Tupelo, former Medicaid Executive Director Helen Wetherbee of Madison, retired Circuit Judge Thomas Frederick Wicker of Pontotoc and retired Circuit Judge Edward A. Williamson of Philadelphia.