NCBA Legal Practice Hall of Fame Inducts 8 New Members

The 35th induction class of the North Carolina Bar Association Legal Practice Hall of Fame was enshrined on Thursday, September 14, at the Waynesville Inn & Golf Club.

The induction ceremony coincided with the fall meeting of the NCBA Senior Lawyers Division, led by the Hon. Robert C. Hunter, chair, and NCBA Past President Betty Quick, chair-elect. Access photos from the ceremony and meeting here.

This year’s inductees are:

  • Stephen L. Beaman, Wilson
  • Joseph B. Cheshire V, Raleigh
  • William M. Claytor, Charlotte
  • Fenton T. Erwin Jr., Charlotte
  • Troy C. Homesley Jr., Statesville
  • Ronald P. Johnson, Greensboro
  • Larry S. McDevitt, Asheville
  • Claud R. Wheatley III, Beaufort

Hall of Fame inductees, seated from left, William M. Claytor, Fenton T. Erwin Jr., Troy C. Homesley Jr. and Ronald P. Johnson; standing from left, Stephen L. Beaman, Claud R. Wheatley III and Larry S. McDevitt.

The Hall of Fame was established in 1989 by the NCBA General Practice Section and now includes 186 members. The NCBA Senior Lawyers Division has solicited nominations and selected the inductees since 2019, at which time the General Practice Hall of Fame was renamed.

The Legal Practice Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding lawyers whose careers have served as models for other lawyers, exhibited the highest standards of ethics and professional competency throughout their practice, and have rendered a high level of service to the bar and to their communities.

The following biographical information on each of this year’s inductees was derived from their nominations and firm websites.

Stephen L. Beaman is the founding partner of Beaman & Bennington, PLLC in Wilson. He has practiced law since 1974 and has served as a bankruptcy trustee for the Eastern District of North Carolina for over 30 years. He has also represented the Wilson County Department of Social Services for more than 30 years and Wilson County for more than 10 years.

Beaman has represented debtors and creditors in all chapters of bankruptcy while also practicing in the areas of real estate, estate planning, estate administration, collections, and business and corporate law.

He is a graduate of East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Joseph B. Cheshire V is the senior partner of Cheshire Parker Schneider, PLLC in Raleigh. Following graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University School of Law, and service in the U.S. Army, Cheshire entered the practice of law with Ragsdale Liggett in 1973, becoming the fifth Joseph Blount Cheshire to practice law in North Carolina.

He soon became a named partner in the firm, which became Ragsdale, Liggett and Cheshire in 1975, and fulfilled his desire to practice criminal law while handling more than 15 first-degree murder cases in his first five years of practice. Cheshire left to form his own firm, specializing in criminal law, in 1978, and has remained there ever since.

Cheshire regretfully had to miss the induction ceremony in order to participate in the memorial service of Ragsdale Liggett founding partner Frank Rahm Liggett III, who died earlier last week.

William M. Claytor is a shareholder in Baucom, Claytor, Morgan & Wood, P.A. in Charlotte. He attended Rhodes College in Memphis and is a graduate of Truman State University (B.A.), the University of Memphis (M.A.) and the University of Memphis School of Law (J.D.)

Claytor worked for the Internal Revenue Service for three years prior to joining Baucom Claytor in 1973, thereby marking 50 years with the firm in April. His practice has been focused on the areas of estate planning, estate administration, elder law, corporate law and tax law, and he has administered over 750 decedent’s estates through the courts and planned over 1,500 estates for clients.

Fenton T. Erwin Jr. of Charlotte began practicing law in 1966 following his graduation from the University of North Carolina School of Law and retired at the end of 2022 from Nexsen Pruet. Erwin began his career with Lindsey & Schrimsher, P.A., where he maintained a general practice.

He joined law partner John Beddow to form Erwin & Beddow, P.A. in the 1980s, during which time his practice began to focus on construction litigation and real estate litigation. Erwin also became counsel for the local chapter of the American Subcontractors Association and served in that capacity for more than 20 years.

He was a named partner in multiple firms over the course of his career, culminating in 2011 with the formation of Erwin, Bishop, Capitano & Moss (EBCM), where he enjoyed a successful practice for 11 years.

Troy C. Homesley Jr. of Statesville moved to Mooresville and opened the office of Collier, Harris and Collier in 1962, and has maintained firms with offices in Mooresville and Statesville for more than 50 years.

Homesley is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC School of Law, and veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served in the Army JAG Corps from 1958-62 before being honorably discharged with the rank of captain.

His practice has focused on criminal and civil litigation, and Homesley has also served as a court-appointed attorney for indigent defense services for more than 50 years.

Ronald P. Johnson serves as special counsel with Carruthers & Roth, P.A. in Greensboro. A graduate of the University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina School of Law, he began his practice in 1974 with Jordan, Nichols & Caffrey, focusing on estate planning, estate administration, business law and nonprofit organizations law.

Johnson became a board-certified specialist in estate planning and probate law in 1987, and 1997 joined in the formation of what ultimately became Johnson, Peddrick & McDonald, PLLC. The firm was dissolved in October 2021 and Johnson and his partners joined Carruthers & Roth.

Johnson will celebrate 50 years of practicing law next year.

Larry S. McDevitt is a senior partner at the Van Winkle Law Firm in Asheville. He is a former president of the firm, which grew from six to twenty attorneys under his leadership, and also a past president of the North Carolina Bar Association.

McDevitt is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC School of Law, and he has been practicing law for more than 47 years. His practice places special emphasis on patent and trademark infringement cases as well as antitrust matters.

McDevitt has been inducted or recognized as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Bar Foundation, and the International Society of Barristers.

Claud R. (Rob) Wheatley III practices with the Wheatly Law Group in Beaufort, preceded in that regard by his grandfather, Claud R. Wheatly Sr., who opened his office in 1908, and his father, Claud R. Wheatly Jr., a charter member of the General Practice Hall of Fame.

Now in his 51st year of practicing law, Claud Wheatly III is a graduate of The Citadel and the University of South Carolina School of Law, and earned the rank of captain while serving in the U.S. Army. He focuses his practice on real property, estate planning, business, corporate, environmental law, maintaining a civil trial practice in all of the state and federal courts.