Bynum M. Hunter: 1925-2018
Bynum Merritt Hunter of Greensboro died Thursday, Jan. 18, at the age of 92. As his obituary so aptly stated, he was a true “Southern Gentleman” and in many ways epitomized what it meant to be a member of this country’s “Greatest Generation.”
A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, January 20, at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 617 N. Elm Street, Greensboro, followed by a reception at the Greensboro Country Club.
Hunter graduated from Woodberry Forest in 1943 and volunteered for military service in World War II. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as part of the V-12 program and graduated in 1945, after which he served in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific, earning the rank of lieutenant.
Upon completion of his military service, Hunter returned to Chapel Hill and graduated from the UNC School of Law in 1949. He then began his legal career in his native Greensboro with the law firm of Smith Sapp Moore & Smith, and ultimately served as a senior partner with Smith Moore Smith Schell & Hunter.
Hunter was a past president of the Greensboro Bar Association and the youngest inductee of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He served as attorney for the Atlantic Coast Conference for more than 25 years.
Within the North Carolina Bar Association, his name will live on in perpetuity, thanks to the generosity of Bynum Hunter and his wife, Bonnie McElveen Hunter, their family, colleagues and friends. In conjunction with his 75th birthday and the 50-year anniversary of his entrance into the practice of law, the North Carolina Bar Foundation received major gifts establishing the Bynum M. Hunter Justice Fund and naming the Bynum M. Hunter Galleria of the N.C. Bar Center.
For greater insight into the life and work of Bynum M. Hunter, please read the following biographical sketch, which became part of the N.C. Bar Center’s Justice Fund display when the Bynum M. Hunter Justice Fund was dedicated.
Bynum Merritt Hunter Biography (through October 2000)
Bynum Merritt Hunter was born on June 13, 1925, in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is the son of Hill McIver Hunter and Annie Merritt Hunter. He has remained a lifelong resident of the town in which he was born.
Bynum was married to Bonnie McElveen Hunter, a South Carolina native, on June 13, 1980. Bonnie as Owner and President of Pace Communications, Inc., is a prominent business executive and civic leader in Greensboro. Bynum and Bonnie are generous and active supporters of many charitable organizations in their home town.
Bynum and Bonnie have one son, Bynum, Jr., who was born July 8, 1983. Bynum, Jr. is presently attending Woodberry Forest School. Bynum has two daughters by an earlier marriage: Shirley Hunter, who resides in London, England; and Mary Parker Hunter who resides in Lausanne, Switzerland. Bynum is a longtime member of the First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro. He has also been an active Rotarian since 1961.
Bynum attended the Greensboro City Schools. He later attended and was graduated from Woodberry Forest School in 1943. He then entered the United States Navy. He was first assigned to the V-12 program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and later was assigned to the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at the University. While a student in this Navy training program at Chapel Hill, Bynum was a member of the Zeta Psi Fraternity, of which he was President in 1945. He was a member of the University of North Carolina track team, of which he was elected co-captain in 1945.
Bynum graduated from the University in October 1945, at which time he was also commissioned as Ensign in the United States Navy. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Iowa, BB-61, in the Pacific Theater of Operations. He was released from active duty with the Navy in 1946, at which time he entered the law school at the University of North Carolina. There he was a member of Phi Delta Phi. Bynum graduated from Law School in 1949. That same year he began the practice of law with the law firm Smith Sapp Moore & Smith in Greensboro.
Bynum was recalled to active duty in the United States Navy in 1951 during the Korean War. He served as a lieutenant aboard the U.S.S. L.S. M.R. 525, a rocket firing ship, in the Pacific Theater. Bynum first was Gunnery Officer, then Navigator, and ultimately Executive Officer aboard this ship which participated in a number of shore bombardments of North Korea.
Bynum was released from active duty in the United States Navy in 1953 and resumed practice with the Smith law firm in Greensboro. In 1955, the Smith law firm became Smith Moore Smith Schell & Hunter. In 1987 that firm merged with Helms Mulliss and Johnston of Charlotte to become the present law firm of Smith Helms Mulliss & Moore, L.L.P., with which Bynum continues to practice law today.
Bynum has been a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1970. He is a permanent member of the Federal Judicial Conference for The Fourth Circuit. He is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, the International Association of Defense Counsel, the American Judicature Society and the Sports Lawyers Association. He is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America.
Bynum was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court in 1959, before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1955, and before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1995. In 1965-66 Bynum served as President of the Greensboro Bar Association.
Bynum’s law practice has consisted primarily of civil litigation, commercial litigation, insurance defense, and sports law. Bynum has been the attorney for the Atlantic Coast Conference for more than twenty-five years.
Bynum recently celebrated his 75th birthday and his 50th year as a practicing attorney. He has earned and has enjoyed the friendship, the respect, and the personal and professional affection and good will of all who have known him over the years. There is no lawyer in North Carolina who is better known for both professional and social accomplishments and activities. His passionate zeal for his clients’ causes has been a trademark of his practice. Bynum has long been a great credit to his profession, and for many years he has been an outstanding example of professional dedication and integrity for young lawyers to emulate. The contributions of Bynum Merritt Hunter to the legal profession and to his community, for which he will long be remembered, have been beyond measure.