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Four New Justice Funds Dedicated

Four New Justice Funds Dedicated

The North Carolina Bar Association Foundation dedicated four new Justice Funds on Thursday, Nov. 20, at the N.C. Bar Center in Cary.

The new Justice Funds were dedicated in honor of John W. Mason of Asheville, the late Christy Eve Reid of Charlotte, the late William P. Skinner Jr. of Raleigh and C. Sydnor Thompson Jr. of Charlotte.

NCBA President Catharine Arrowood provided the welcome address and Executive Director Allan Head conducted the unveiling of the Justice Fund plaques. Beth Langley, chair of the Development Committee, provided remarks regarding NCBA Foundation Justice Funds, which total 108 following the dedication ceremony.

The John W. Mason Justice Fund was introduced by John Stevens and William Clarke. The William P. Skinner Jr. Justice Fund was introduced by John McMillan. The C. Sydnor Thompson Jr. Justice Fund was introduced by Mark Bernstein and James Preston. The Christy Eve Reid Justice Fund was introduced by Graham Holding Jr. and Jean Gordon Carter.

A Liberty Garden Walkway Bench was also dedicated in honor of Christy Eve Reid. Chair Craig Dalton Jr. provided remarks on behalf of the Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Section, whose members provided funding for the walkway bench.

A Justice Fund is a named endowment that honors those North Carolina lawyers, past and present, whose careers have demonstrated dedication to the pursuit of justice and outstanding service to the profession and the public. One or more contributors may establish a Justice Fund to honor a colleague, family member or friend.

Lawyers designated and honored by the creators of a Justice Fund receive special recognition in the form of a permanent plaque and biographical sketch maintained at the N.C. Bar Center. One or more contributors may establish a Justice Fund to honor a colleague, family member or friend through a combined gift of $35,000.

The NCBA Foundation Endowment was established in 1987 to enable the Foundation to fund programs and activities to better serve the public and the legal profession. To date, the endowment had awarded grants totaling $4.7 million for 596 projects.

Biographical sketches for the four new Justice Fund honorees read as follows:

John Weatherly Mason

If John Mason’s life is noted by hallmark, it is dedication to duty; service in the community, nation, church and legal profession; by quiet, unpretentious leadership; and by a dry, quick wit.

He was born in North Carolina and educated in this state’s public schools. He graduated from R-S Central High School in Rutherfordton, where he received the Edwards Outstanding Athlete Award as an All-WNC football halfback and a champion sprinter, and was selected commencement speaker for his class.

As a youth, he was an Eagle Scout. It was through scouting that he developed his love for the out-of-doors, nature and conservation, which continues to mark his life today. For more than a decade he has led hikes and nature studies in the mountains of Western North Carolina for the NCBA and several of its sections.

He graduated from Davidson College in 1967 and from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1973. He was licensed to practice in this state in September 1973.

Between college and law school he served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He was “Honor Man” of his OCS Platoon and an Honor Graduate of The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia. He commanded a rifle platoon with “M” Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines in Vietnam. His personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Valor (“V”) device, two Purple Heart medals for wounds received in action and the Combat Action Ribbon. He continues to keep in touch with many of the Marines with whom he served, and he recognizes all of them with a single word: courage.

Following law school, he worked as a trust officer with Virginia National Bank, Charlottesville, then joined the firm of Roberts & Stevens, P.A. (then known as Redmond, Stevens, Loftin and Currie, P. A.) in Asheville. He has been a member of the firm since early 1975 and now serves as “of counsel.” He served as president of the firm for a decade (2001-11), and although the office was a technicality separate from the firm management committee, he considers his term in office as a cherished honor.

He started as a “general practitioner” with both trial and transactional practices representing individuals, business and health organizations, non-profits, estates and trusts. Several of his early cases received national recognition, including Ray v. United Family, an anti-trust case reported in U. S. Law Week, and FUNB v. Moss, a testamentary trust case reported in Trusts and Estates magazine.

Over the years his law practice evolved primarily into the areas of estate planning, trust and estate administration, tax planning and law, trust and estate litigation and representation of nonprofit organizations, particularly churches.

He has been selected by his peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America as both Trusts and Estates Counsel and Trusts and Estates Litigation Counsel. In 2013 he was chosen as Best Lawyers’ “Lawyer of the Year” for trusts and estates in the Asheville area. For more than 20 years he has been rated as “AV Preeminent” by Martindale Hubbell.

He is a member of the 28th Judicial District Bar Association and served a term as its president; the North Carolina Bar Association, where he served as vice president and member of the Board of Governors and chair of the Development Committee; the N.C. State Bar and (formerly) the American Bar Association. He is the recipient of the Centennial Award presented by the NCBA and District Bar.

Over the years he has advised and mentored numerous young attorneys, both within and outside his firm, in the trusts and estates area, has served as an expert witness in complex estate cases, has presented and published CLE manuscripts on Probate and the Tax Aspects of Probate in NC, and has provided pro bono legal services to the poor and disadvantaged.

He is active in his church. For 30 years he has been an ordained elder at First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Asheville, and at various times has served as clerk of session, chair of finance committee, chair of stewardship committee, church treasurer, co-chair of the capital campaign committee and Sunday school teacher. He has chaired various committees with the Presbytery of Western North Carolina and has represented the Presbytery in both ecumenical and civil litigation. He presently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Committee for Union Presbyterian Seminary, Charlotte campus.

He is active in his community, having served on various non-profit boards including Pisgah Council Girl Scouts, Mountain Area Hospice, Mountain Area Hospice Foundation, The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the Institutional Review Board of Mission Health Services, Inc., Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains, Inc., and others.

He is a member of other non-profits, among them the Blue Ridge Society of the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy, the Peaks Society of the Asheville Buncombe United Way, the William Horn Battle Society of the UNC School of Law, the Platt Walker Society of the N.C. Bar Association Foundation, and the North Carolina Arboretum Society.

He is married to Mary “Dee” Robb Mason. They have four children—Caroline Mason, Suzanne Mason, Abe Walston and Joe Walston—and three grandchildren.

Christy Eve Reid

Christy Eve Reid was born in Charlotte on February 8, 1951. She was forced to become an adult even before she was a teenager by assuming the responsibilities of a second mother to her younger brother and sister while their mother worked long hours at several jobs struggling to support the family alone. It was during this time that Christy first showed the traits of exceptional intellectual ability coupled with indefatigable energy and the capacity to juggle many tasks and pressures successfully at once. At school she participated in many extracurricular activities involving drama, art, various clubs, class government, as a cheerleader, handled her duties at home and still graduated as the 1969 East Mecklenburg High class valedictorian.

In a period during which few elite schools like Harvard admitted women directly into their undergraduate programs, Christy went to one of the then-female equivalents—Smith College in North Hampton, Massachusetts—where she recalled that she and Julie Nixon (Eisenhower) were the only two conservative Republicans on campus. She picked Smith over other prestigious colleges because they offered her the most financial aid. Christy graduated in 1973 with Phi Beta Kappa honors. She then returned to North Carolina and enrolled in law school at UNC-Chapel Hill.

While in law school she met Scott Bryan Reid, a New Englander who had come south to Chapel Hill to attend college at the same time Christy went north to New England. Scott was managing the old Carolina Theatre on Franklin Street while studying for his MBA at the UNC Business School. Christy went to work for him as the “Late Show” popcorn girl. According to Scott, while beautiful and brilliant, she was a very marginal concession attendant – an almost unmanageable employee who often ate more popcorn than she sold. They would end up being together for 40 years until her death and raising three wonderful children: Lauren, Ian and Olivia.

During law school Christy clerked for the N.C. Supreme Court and the Honorable William Copeland. She spent one summer working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Wilmington where she first experienced her beloved Bald Head Island. Christy was an editor of the N.C. Law Review and graduated from UNC Law with honors in 1976. She accepted a position with Moore & Van Allen and returned to her hometown where she soon became one of the first female partners of a large Charlotte law firm. After more than a decade there she became a partner at Robinson, Bradshaw and Hinson where she remained for over 25 years.

Christy Reid chose the legal field of trusts and estate planning both because it offered her a high degree of intellectual stimulation and a certain amount of flexibility in raising a young family. Like everything else in her life she excelled at it. She became a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law with the NC State Bar. She served as chair of the NCBA’s Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section (and later on the NCBA Board of Governors), president of the Charlotte Estate Planning Council, chair of the N.C. Board of Legal Specialization and state chair of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Her reputation in her field was national as she was elected to serve as a regent to The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel where she chaired the Fiduciary Income Tax Committee.

In the course of her career Christy Reid was recognized by the Legal Elite Hall of Fame, by various publications and rankings of “Best Lawyers in America,” as Charlotte Trust and Estates Lawyer of the Year, as a “North Carolina Super Lawyer,” “Top 100 Lawyer” and “Top 50 Female North Carolina Super Lawyer.” She was a frequent lecturer on estate planning, administration and tax law. She published articles and co-authored several manuals on estate planning used by attorneys and financial institutions all over the state.

With her boundless energy and enthusiasm Christy served her community and church in many capacities. She was a Cub Scout Leader and Girl Scout volunteer. She served on the Church Council at her longtime church, St. Mark’s Lutheran, and on various other committees over the years. She also gave her time and talents as a member of the Board of Trustees of Charlotte Christian School.

Christy Reid was a Baby Boomer child of the dynamic and tumultuous ’60s. That was a defining and ambitious era of “women’s liberation” where women decided they were free to achieve anything. Christy did not make a spectacle of it – she just quietly went about doing it. She was of the optimistic and energetic generation of women who believed they really could “have it all.” She didn’t want to choose between being a mother and having a stimulating career. And there is no one who could have done it any better or succeeded more spectacularly at both. Christy was endowed with an energy, enthusiasm and focus, sustained at a high level over the years, that few people could match. Only disease could and would finally slow her down.

However, she would be the first to say that when her life was through, despite her accomplished and recognized academic and legal career, that her greatest accomplishments and the legacy she would want most to be remembered for are her children. In all the hundreds of photographs of Christy Eve Reid taken over her 63 wonderful and well-lived years the ones in which her face is radiating with the most happiness, her eyes sparkling the brightest, and where she is beaming with her biggest smiles, are those where she is holding her babies.

William Pailin Skinner, Jr.

William Pailin Skinner, Jr. was born July 31, 1929, in the Skinner family home in Elizabeth City.  Having babies was not discussed in those days, so his three older siblings were surprised to find a baby brother when they returned home from camp that year. During his childhood, he did get a taste of the mountains when he attended Camp Sequoyah but his great love was always the beach. His father built a cottage at Nags Head in 1933 when the only way to reach the Outer Banks was by ferry. The Skinner family spent entire summers there from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Bill eventually became the owner of the cottage and maintained it almost in the same condition as when it was built but with the addition of electricity and hot water.

Bill attended school in Elizabeth City, worked his way up through Boy Scout activities to become an Eagle Scout, and sang in the choir at Christ Episcopal Church. He was elected president of the student body at Elizabeth City High School in eleventh grade, the final year of high school available at that time. The twelfth grade was added the year he would have gone, but his father was afraid it would be a repeat of the eleventh and sent him to Virginia Episcopal School for his last year of high school. Bill credits VES with teaching him how to study so he could go on to be a successful student at Chapel Hill, participate in the NROTC program and enjoy fraternity life as a member of Zeta Psi. At Chapel Hill, he earned both his degree and a commission as ensign in the United States Naval Reserve. After graduation he went on active duty during the “Korean Police Action,” serving in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. He particularly enjoyed his deployment to Italy where he turned an interest in opera into a lifetime passion after hearing the young Renata Tebaldi sing years before she became known in the United States.  

By 1953, Bill was back at Chapel Hill in law school. He studied hard and worked on the Law Review for his last two years. It was during this time at law school that he met Harriet Morgan, a journalism student. They were married several days after learning he had passed the North Carolina bar exam and moved to Norfolk where Bill worked for the National Bank of Commerce. Much as he liked Virginia, Bill’s heart always belonged to North Carolina, so he jumped at the chance to join Charles Fulton and Howard Manning to practice law in Raleigh. Bill and Harriett had a happy 46 year of marriage and two wonderful children, William P. Skinner III and Harriet McLeod Skinner. Two years after Harriett’s death in 2003, he married Jennette Campbell Herbert whom he had known as a friend for over 30 years.

At Manning, Fulton & Skinner, Bill was a beloved member of the firm. He was highly respected by his peers, a trusted advisor to many families, a mentor to younger attorneys, and respected and appreciated by the many public servants he dealt with in the probate court for many, many years. He was a bright, conscientious practitioner with much wisdom. He was always accessible to his clients and to the younger attorneys in the firm, and always greeted everyone with friendliness and congeniality. His warmth and friendliness also extended to the support staff in the office. His congeniality even extended to stock brokers who sometimes reached him on their cold calls. He could often be heard saying “Thank you for calling, no, but thank you for calling, no, thank you, thank you but I really do have to get back to work, thank you, good bye.”

And technology—boy did Bill love it. He loved his electric pencil sharpener. It allowed him to keep one of the tools of his trade (his No. 2 pencils) ready at all times. In fact his routine pencil-sharpening around 5:30 each afternoon came to signal the close of the day—much like a factory whistle or the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. And he loved his adding machine. You could hear it humming and grinding throughout the day. And he loved his yellow pads (the 14-inch variety, please) and often prepared drafts of probate court accounts on them before turning them over to his secretary, Sally Burke. Computers and Excel spreadsheets? “Who needs them?” iPads and a special stylus? “No thank you, pencil and yellow pad will do just fine.” Remote work from home? “Not while I’m listening to opera with Jenny.” Office telephones? “Can’t I get a solid old Bell rotary dial phone that won’t slide off the credenza as I dial?” Cell phones? “Well, maybe—but not for business!”

Through his courtesy, competency and friendliness, he established a great rapport with everyone he met. He exemplified a characteristic that has been receiving ever increasing attention among the bar—professionalism. He was, in short, a true gentlemen, scholar and lawyer.

C. Sydnor Thompson, Jr.

Born in Baltimore on February 18, 1924 to Sydnor Thompson, Sr. and Helen Layne Thompson, but raised a proud son of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Charles William Sydnor Thompson, Jr. has spent much of his adult life researching and celebrating his family’s prominent history in his home state. Graduating from Lynchburg’s E. C. Glass High School in 1941 with the highest grade point average in the history of the school, he was offered a full tuition scholarship to attend Syracuse University where he was to meet his future bride, Harriette Line of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Like so many others of his generation, Sydnor’s life was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in March of 1943 and served with the 879th Field Artillery Battalion of the 69th Infantry Division. During the course of the war, he earned a Bronze Star for heroism and, as a member of the “Fighting 69th,” was recognized as a liberator of Leipzig-Thekla, a sub-camp of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. At the conclusion of the war, Sydnor studied at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland as part of a program established by Great Britain to repay its lend-lease debt to the United States. Remembering it as one of the great experiences of his life, Sydnor’s term at St. Andrews established friendships that proved lifelong and helped shape his character in the manner noted by Mark Twain of those well traveled, “a broad, wholesome and charitable view of men and things.”

Victorious in war, Sydnor returned to complete his studies at Syracuse and to win the heart of his beloved “Hattie.” Soon victorious in love, Sydnor married Hattie in the campus chapel immediately following their graduation ceremony in June of 1947. He was accepted to Harvard Law School and, in characteristic fashion, engaged the experience fully, excelling in his studies and serving on the Harvard Law Review, Volume 64. Graduating from Harvard Law in 1950, Sydnor was awarded a Fulbright scholarship, studying international law at Manchester University Law School and the London School of Economics. His early studies and life experiences in Great Britain helped to assure that Sydnor remained a lifelong and unapologetic Anglophile.

Hired by the New York City law firm of Davis Polk upon his return from Europe, Sydnor was assigned in 1953 to work with the senior partner of the firm and erstwhile presidential candidate, John W. Davis, representing the state of South Carolina in Briggs vs. Elliott (later Brown vs. the Board of Education) before the United States Supreme Court. In what has been called the most important Supreme Court decision of the twentieth century, Davis and he fought against school integration, a cause that he would ironically spend much of his later life championing. As he told Nina Totenberg in an interview broadcast on National Public Radio in 2004, “thank God we lost!”

While a student at Harvard in the summer of 1949, Sydnor had clerked at the law firm of Taliaferro, Clarkson and Grier in Charlotte, and grew especially to admire the attorneys Francis Clarkson and Joe Grier. Often visiting his beloved mother, Helen Thompson Grose, who now lived in Charlotte, Sydnor maintained his relationship with the firm and was offered a partnership in what was to become Grier, Parker, Poe and Thompson in 1954. Sydnor and Harriette soon moved to the Queen City where they raised five children and sank deep and lasting roots in the community.

Sydnor’s long and successful legal practice as a litigator in Charlotte was characterized not only by professional excellence but by an understanding of the law as a calling to public service. Governor Jim Hunt doubtless saw those qualities in him when he appointed him to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 1994 to 1995. Retiring from legal practice in 1994, Sydnor began another chapter in his career, serving as a certified mediator and arbitrator until 2014. Throughout his life as an attorney, Sydnor worked to build a legal culture that reflected the highest standards of ethical practice, community service and social justice. In recognition of his service to his profession, he was inducted into the North Carolina Bar Association’s General Practice Hall of Fame in 2003.

A lifelong member of the Democratic Party and unsuccessful candidate for the N.C. State House in 1992, Sydnor worked tirelessly in his adult life to recruit and fund qualified Democratic candidates for state and local races. A “Good Democrat” to the core, his engagement with politics always reflected respect for those of differing views, the promotion of civil discourse, and the pursuit of the common good.

A devout United Methodist and dedicated Sunday School teacher at Myers Park United Methodist Church, Sydnor was committed to ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue, receiving the North Carolina Council of Churches’ Distinguished Service Award in 2013. His faith was expressed in a strong commitment to a “Social Gospel,” as evidenced by his work to establish Mecklenburg Ministries in its mission of interfaith cooperation, racial and ethnic understanding, and collaboration to address social issues.

A generous supporter of the arts, Sydnor was frequently found among the cast in Charlotte plays and was celebrated by family and friends for poetry read on special occasions under the moniker “John Malcolm Brinnin,” a character he once portrayed on the stage of the Mint Museum’s Golden Circle Theatre.

Committed to community service throughout his legal career, Sydnor served as the president of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra from 1959-62, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Florence Crittenton Home and president of Crisis Assistance Ministries in the 1960s, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Charlotte, 1970-72, president of Opera Carolina, 1972-74, vice chairman of the N.C. Arts Council, 1974-76, chairman of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, 1977-79, and president of the Horace Williams Philosophy Discussion Group, 2001 to 2014.

In recognition of his distinguished service to the state of North Carolina, Governor Beverly Perdue awarded him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2012.