William B. Hairston Jr.
December 14, 1924 – December 24, 2015
Bill (or Billy to his friends that knew him the longest) peacefully departed from his home in Birmingham, Alabama to be fully with his savior this past Christmas Eve. He was the son of the late William B. Hairston and Kate Steele Hairston, both of Birmingham. Bill is survived by his wife of sixty years, Louise (“Weezie”) Poe Hairston, his son Bill Hairston III (Lynn) of Birmingham, his sister Kathryn H. Green of Alexandria, Virginia, and his three nephews: Gordon Green (Barbara) of Grey, Georgia, Russell Green of Centreville, Virginia, and Dillard Green (Regina) of Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
While attending Phillips High School, Bill caught his first glance of Weezie at a dance, but their marriage would have to wait for fifteen long years. During those years, Bill began his studies at the University of Alabama, only to have those scholastic endeavors postponed by World War II. Bill’s service to his country began with his education as an engineer at Manhattan College. But as the Nazi war machine raged across Europe, this education was also postponed so that Bill could train to be a paratrooper. A training accident injured Bill’s knee (an injury that would continue to plague him the rest of his life) and Bill was transferred into the infantry. As a Sergeant with the 69th Infantry Division, Bill spent the remainder of his military service in the European theatre pushing across France, until finally meeting up with the Russian forces in the vicinities of Torgau and Strehla, Germany, thereby splitting the Nazi forces into two parts and hastening the end of this bloody conflict. In recognition of his service, Bill was awarded the Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantry Badge.
Upon returning home, Bill completed his studies at the University of Alabama obtaining a BS degree from the Commerce School (1949) and a LLB degree from the Law School (1950). While at Alabama, he was inducted into both Omicron Delta Kappa, and Jasons. Socially he was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity (and later was inducted into ATO’s hall of fame). His graduation, however, did not end his connection with his alma mater. In the years that followed, Bill would become a charter member of the Farrah Law Society, the president of both the UA Law School Alumni Association and of the UA Law School Foundation where he continued to serve with distinction as an emeritus director.
In 2001, Bill was honored to receive the Sam W. Pipes Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater. Following graduation, Bill, along with Ben A. Engel, founded a law firm that still bears his name. Later, Rick Johanson would join them and build on Bill’s teaching and mentoring practices to both clients and colleagues in the legal profession.
Bill’s sixty year legacy practicing law, can be felt in many arenas. He taught “Bills and Notes” at the Birmingham School of Law, receiving the 1968 Outstanding Faculty Award. He authored the treatise entitled Detinue, Executions, and Mechanics’ Liens: The Law in Alabama. (The Harrison Co., 1982. 124 pp. Latest Update 1999). He was instrumental in developing a unified judicial system in the state. He instituted in Birmingham the nation’s first Law Day Parade, receiving the ABA’s Award of Merit. After working his way up the ranks Bill was elected president first of the Birmingham Bar Association (Secretary, 1967; Vice President, 1969; President, 1970), and then of the Alabama Bar Association (Member, Board of Commissioners, 1973-1979; Second Vice President, 1978; Chairman, Disciplinary Commission, 1978-1979; President-Elect, 1982; President, 1983-1984). In recognition of these services Bill, in 2004, received the Birmingham Bar Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to these bar associations, and the American Bar Association, Bill was a life fellow of both the Alabama Bar Foundation, and the American Bar Foundation, and a member of both the Southern Conference of Bar Presidents and the National Conference of Bar Presidents. He was a fellow of American College of Trial Lawyers. He served as the “Recorder” in Leeds, Alabama, and as a member of the Alabama Judicial Conference, the Judicial Inquiry Commission, and the Alabama Law Institute. In the federal arena, Bill was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, and a trustee of and later president (1986-1990) of the Eleventh Circuit Historical Society.
He also served on the management board of the downtown YMCA, as the treasurer of Vestavia Country Club and as a member of the Monday Morning Quarterback Club. Following his marriage to Weezie in 1955, Bill transferred his membership from Sixth Avenue Presbyterian Church to Highlands United Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday School for over fifty years, held every office, including chairman of the Board of Stewards, and was instrumental in establishing Highlands’ foundation, and the Methodist Educational Leave Society (now the Institute for Clergy Excellence “ICE”).
But his real passion was one he shared with his wife – the cultivation of the state flower. These gems were his pride and joy, and he showed them throughout the southeast. Bill was president and show chairman of the Birmingham Camellia Society, judge of the American Camellia Society and is honored to have a camellia that bears his name.
The family would like to express its gratitude and love to Sharon Hagler for her compassionate care, along with special recognition and thanks to Ida Brand, Kandace Beasley, and Liz Rayford, and also to Kris and Sheila from New Beacon Hospice whose tender care allowed Bill to rest peacefully in his home until the time of his eternal rest.
Funeral service for Bill will be held Wednesday, December 30th at 10:00 a.m. at Highlands United Methodist Church with committal in Highlands’ columbarium and visitation in the fellowship hall to follow. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the Music Fund of Highlands United Methodist Church (1045 20th St S, Birmingham, AL 35205).
Published in The Birmingham News from Dec. 26 to Dec. 30, 2015
Hairston, William B. Jr. [MCattendee RIP]
[JR: Attendees are recognized on the theory “if it’s important to some to mention in an obit, then we can spare a few prayers”. Perhaps, the time at MC was both formative and important to our comrade. And, imho, WW2 interrupted many plans. A good many went to never came back and maybe those that did had new priorities.]
# – # – # – # – # 2015-Dec-28 @ 22:14
Colon, Philip J. (MC1962) added this request to his prayer circle.
# – # – # – # – # 2016-Jan-02 @ 12:48