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A.C. Epps, 1916-2004

He was also a close member of the Style Weekly family. His wife, Rozanne Epps, is our copy chief; her commentaries and those of their son and University of Oregon law professor Garrett Epps have often appeared on our Back Page.

A.C. was a regular at Style. It was his custom to take his wife to lunch. Invariably he’d have to wait in the newsroom for Rosie to finish whatever she was working on. “Let’s go, old man,” she’d tell him teasingly. And off they’d go, A.C. carrying Rosie’s bulging book bag as if it were a cloud. For recollections of A.C. and his brilliant career, we asked his longtime colleague R. Harvey Chappell Jr.

My introduction to A.C. and Rozanne came through my employment by the law firm of Christian, Barton, Parker & Boyd. Through the years, I had the opportunity and privilege of working with A.C. on various matters including, primarily, litigation. He was an excellent trial lawyer, as is shown by his election to fellowship in American College of Trial Lawyers.

A.C. had a distinguished career at the University of Virginia, having been elected to Phi Beta Kappa as an undergraduate. He was a president of the graduating class at the University of Virginia Law School in 1938, having been selected to be a member of the board of editors of the Virginia Law Review.

A.C. was justifiably proud of this law firm, particularly in view of the fact that every able-bodied lawyer in the firm (irrespective of age) served in World War II and, as I recall it, all served overseas. The senior partners, Andrew Christian, Robert T. Barton Jr. and Alexander W. Parker, were over age for the draft, having served in World War I, but this notwithstanding, the three of them volunteered and served admirably.

After the war, A.C. resumed his practice and became a partner and about that same time Jack Brent joined the firm as a partner. The two of them had a merry old time of it through the years in friendly competition.

One of A.C.’s closest friends was Thomas C. Gordon Jr., who served as a justice of the Virginia Supreme Court and as chairman of the firm now known as McGuireWoods. Both A.C. and Tommy had marvelous senses of humor, particularly, when directed at someone else! On a few occasions, A.C. and I would twit Gordon. Two occasions come to mind. One day when A.C. and I were having lunch at the Commonwealth Club, Gordon came in to announce that he had a wonderful new automobile, a BMW. A.C. pretended not to have ever heard of the automobile and I said that I knew what “BM” meant but wondered aloud what “W” meant. Gordon stalked off in a snit.

Many years later, the Richmond Bar gave a black tie dinner honoring Gordon when he was elevated to the judiciary. A.C. and I then recalled a trip to an American Bar Association meeting in Chicago, during the course of which the three of us did a bit of barhopping as far away as Cicero, Ill. This prompted us to purchase from a local florist a hideous flower arrangement to which we appended a card reading “To Tommy from the Girls of Cicero.” He never acknowledged receipt of the gift.

A.C. also was quite active in his profession, having served as president of the Bar Association of the City of Richmond in 1963 and president of the Virginia Bar Association from 1966-1967. I remember with great pleasure the many times that A.C. and I would meet at the 4th Circuit judicial conference (customarily held on alternate years at the Greenbrier and the Homestead) with our wives and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

In his later years, A.C. specialized in work before the State Corporation Commission of Virginia and was a well recognized expert in cases before that judicial body, particularly rate-making actions. A.C. also found time to serve on the Richmond School Board and the Friends of the Richmond Public Library and on the board of directors and as president of Children’s Hospital, among many civic activities.

Through the years the name of Christian, Barton, Parker & Boyd changed to Christian, Barton, Parker, Epps & Brent, then to Christian, Barton, Epps, Brent & Chappell and, now, Christian & Barton. However, no matter what the name was, at no time through these years did the quality of service and client devotion waver. This was because of lawyers such as A.C. Epps.

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