J. Richard Walton, Dec. 13, 1931-Sept. 19, 2014

Our condolences to Phyllis Walton and the rest of the family of Dick Walton, our colleague, friend, and former head of Constangy's Birmingham (Alabama) Office, who died on September 19, 2014. The following is a tribute from Rick Brown, current head of the Birmingham office:

J. Richard (Dick) Walton was born in LaFayette, Alabama, on December 13, 1931, the son of William Ora Walton and Lynda Ruth Tatum Walton. He passed away after an extended illness on the morning of September 19, 2014.

Dick’s father served as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives and was laterDick Walton an Alabama State Circuit Court Judge. Like his older brother Billy, Dick earned the status of Eagle Scout and followed in his father’s footsteps to become a lawyer. As an undergraduate, Dick studied and played football at Vanderbilt University. His undergraduate studies were interrupted by his service in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. He later returned to Vanderbilt and finished his degree in 1955. He then went on to study law at Harvard University from which he graduated in 1958.

After graduating from Harvard, Dick practiced law with a general practice firm in Houston, Texas, where he met his future bride Phyllis Anne Phair. He later returned to Lanett, Alabama where he joined WestPoint Pepperell, one of the preeminent multinational textile corporations. At WestPoint he rose to the level of Vice President of Personnel and Public Affairs. Then in 1974 Dick joined Constangy, Brooks & Smith and opened the Birmingham office, the firm’s first venture outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Dick served as head of the Birmingham office most of the next 23 years, until he retired in 1998.

Dick left an indelible footprint on Constangy that can be matched by few others who have served the firm. The bare facts do not tell the story of Dick Walton. He was a tall, lean, imposing figure with a military crew cut who attracted attention by his simple presence in a room. His voice was soft, strong and clear. He spoke slowly and distinctly, but he kept the attention of those who listened, because he had a perspective on human nature and human instincts that was matched by few others. Corporate executives depended on his wisdom and judgment more than his technical legal expertise. His advice and counsel often shaped and changed the direction taken by corporate officials who understood the technical operations of their corporations but did not fully appreciate or understand the contributions made by those human beings who were the fabric of the company. He kept many executives from making mistakes and helped put many derailed corporations back on track.

Dick often quoted his father and older brother to young lawyers who listened and sought his advice. He loved and often spoke of his wife Phyllis as well as his son, two daughters, and grandchildren. Simply put, there will be no replacement for Dick Walton. He will be missed.


Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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