TRIBUTES (‘ ( j { ERICH0IDER Tom Williamson was a quiet – and effective -warrior for justice. In a life and career filled with accomplishment it was his dedication to equality that truly defined him and connected the disparate parts of a life well led. In ways large and in deeds unnoticed, he consi,tentlydemonstrated both a dedication to fairness and a willingness to fight for those ideals that we claim as our founding principles. I saw this, I witnessed this, many times over the years – years too small in number that I spent with my good friend. Tom’s roles in the fight for equality took him from the law firm he called home for decades to the Departments of Energy and Labor and to the National Football League. He fought to insure adequate funding for the legal Services G.irporation and made real the possibility of same sex marriage. He made the treatment of thousands of deaf employees of the Postal Service more fair and their lives immeasurably better. Tom was the President of the D.C Bar and also played an official, vital role in the selection of this city’s judges for many years while at the same time attempting to insure access to justice for those traditionally and unfairly denied adequate representation in our courts. Tom Williamson shaped the life of this community- and this nation – for decades. We are all tbe better for his good works. In the final fight that so cruelly took him from us, he conducted himself in these last months in the way that was characteristic of the man we all came to admire – and to love. With deremunation, with dignity and with, even then, a continuing focus on others, Tom Williamson showed us what real courage is and what the measure of a man must be. When I visited with Tom we spoke of many things – his youth, his effotts to diversifyO)Vington and Harvard and his pride in, and love for Shelley, and their three wonderful children. I was struck on one occasion by his selection of two individuals who he said he most respected in his youth: Ralph Bunche and Jesse Owens. Like him theywere two men of great consequence who impacted the larger world while not losing their identities as proud black men. Like Tom they were “race men”. Theywere also “quiet warriors for justice” who, despite the recognition they received, were not nearly as appreciated as they should have been. We must ensure that this quiet warrior who I am proud to call my friend, my partner, my brother, is indeed recognized for all that he did and appreciated for the way in which he did it. Many people make significant contributions. Those who do so in a selfless way, who focus more on the outcome rather than the recognition, are rare. This is who Tom Williamson was. It is our responsibility to make certain that as history is written he is found in his rightful, significant place. If they are given the chance to get to know the work, the impact, of this great man I am certain that young men and women, young boys and girls, will somedaysaythat theywant to be like Tom. His was truly a life worth emulating. TI1ough I am utterly heartbroken by his passing, I find some solace in the knowledge that I am surrounded by the results of his good works and that, by his actions, he bent that moral arc towards justice making more certain that our nation will live up to its founding documents and the lives of our people made immeasurably better. Rest in peace my brother. JEFFREY HUVELLE Tom Williamson and I went back a long way, more than 50 years, when we were both college freshmen. We had in common numerous friends and experiences and similar values. We spent fort y years together at Covington, often working on the same matters; for most of that time our offices were near each other, which allowed us to collaborate on our work, discuss our families and mutual friends and reminisce about our pasts. It was a special relationship that I greatly cherished. A lawyer who once worked at Covington recalls a meeting of associates on his first day at the firm in 1976 at which Tom described his assignment at Neighborhood Legal Services and urged his young colleagues to engage in work that contributed to society. The lawyer still remembers that Tom’s presence – his combination of intelligence and humanity – greatly impressed him That memory touches on two aspects of Tom’s legal career. his commitment to law as tool for social justice and his humanity. I will focus on his humanity, and its impact on so many people. Simply put, Tom was a kind person. Kindness is not a trivial trait. The Iliad tells the story of Achilles’ slow progtess from self-centered rage to a single act of kindness towards his foe’s fathex. Tom’s kindness was not a single act, and it was not passive. It permeated everything he did. He attacked the world with kindness. Tom treated everyone with respect, without regard for Washington hierarchies. Upon joining the Labor Department, he met first with the administrative staff, not the many lawyers who reported to him, knowing that this departure from the usual order would signal his respect for the staff. At Covington Tom addressed all the staff by name. One partner was so struck by Tom’s refusal to recognize hierarchies within the finn that he modeled his own behavior on Tom’s example. Tom treated opposing counsel, witnesses and co-counsel with respect, which made him a better lawyer. Tom’s kindness was reflected in his eagerness to counsel and teach A partner whose occasionally rough edges contrasted with Tom’s diplomacy appreciated Tom’s gentle coaching, including Tom’s explaining the subtle protocol that determines where to sit at a conference table for a meeting with important government officials. Tom excelled at mentoring young lawyers, a talent Covington helped him develop. When Tom was asked to assist Charlie Buffon with the summer associate program, Charlie, with an inspired mixture of wisdom and self-interest, suggested that Charlie take care of social events and Tom handle the evaluations and counseling. For his remaining years at the firm, Tom was a relentless mentor beloved by numerous young lawyers who appreciated his keen interest in their development. Tom’s willingness to spend time with young lawyers was especially appreciated because Tom’s titne was precious – he was a highly accomplished and busy lawyer – and because, by Covington standards, Tom was veiy hip. The one area in which Tom fell short was gossip. Good gossip requites an eye for people’s weaknesses. Tom could never see beyond people’s best qualities. Tom has a teammate from the Harvard football team who suffers from dementia. After Tom visited him, Tom wrote to his former teammates to alert them to his condition. This occurred last fall, after the hospital suspended Tom’s therapy. A lesser person would understandably be focused on his own situation. Tom was no lesser person. Tom cared for others first, and he approached life with optimism. We are fortunate to have seen the world through his eyes. DANIEL MCINfOSH My Friend Tom Tom and I cherished an extraordinary friendship for 48 years after meeting in the summer of 1969 when we shared a D.C apartment. We reconnected at Boalt Hall for law school and later for a summer when I recruited him to my Beverly Hills firm. Alas for me, he chose Covington. Nevertheless, our friendship thrived, primarily through conversations in Washington or IA, but most often through spontaneous midnight telephone chats. When Tom and Shelley found each other and began the family he always wanted, we grew closer. What a bonus that our wives made a similar connection. New Year’s Eves often found us together, our children bonding and the four of us toasting our futures. What did I learn from this friendship] 1. At his core, Tom was old fashioned, in the best sense. He believed in honor and integrity and the obligation to give back what had been given to him. He was proud of his ancestry and the accomplishments of blacks in America; at the same time, he believed all people who lacked his own advantages (a nurturing family and community) should be provided with the opportunities and assistance needed to enrich their resources aud lives. Tom was loyal to the sch ools and communities that educated him and gave him the opportunity to excel. He was devoted to the law firm and mentors that molded him into a fully formed lawyer. His commitment to legal services for the poor and his other community contributions were crucial to who he was. (As were the suspenders he wore with his elegant suits). 2. Tom loved being a lawyer. He never tired of doing the work necessary to meet the intellectual and practical challenges that a complex law practice provided. He also loved being a teacher and mentor to young lawyers, offering them the oppormnities they needed to shine, even if it meant stepping back from the spotlight himself. 3. Tom was a family man. He strived to provide well for Shelley and his children and to encourage them to pursue their own talents and dreams. During the toughest days of his illness, he was writing to his friends with excitement about Chris’s new sports castiug opportunities, rootiug for Tommy to be accepted into a prestigious acting program and letting me know how proud he was of Taylor’s academic accomplishments. 4. Tom was great company. He loved a good story and knew how to tell one. His hoots of laughter when something really amused him left me laughing too. (He could also order in French at French restaurants). As he battled his disease with strength and courage, he still found time to seek out old friends for lunch and to travel with Shelley to new places they wanted to see together. A trip with us to Cambria in January was a gift I will value forever. I miss you already, Tom Thank you for your friendship and the gift of your company. You’ll always be with me and I will do my best to look out for your family- as I know you wanted me to do. Q–IARLES MILLER When Tom Williamson graduated from UC Berkeley law school he could have joined any firm in America, fo r all firms were searching for assoc.iates of his talents and qualities. He decided to go to Washington because he thought that venue offered the best chance to make a contribution to society, and from the among the top fimis in the city he selected Covington because of its demonstrated commitment to public service and pro bono work. I believe he was never disappointed with his choice. I first met Tom while recruiting at U.C Berkeley, and that was die beginning of a friendship of over forty years, that included his parents as well. We shared the same growing up locale. We were professional colleagues. We played sports together. Our families, his kids and our grandkids, enjoyed times together. Over all those years and all those times I never heard Tom utter a harsh word, or demean another person. He was serious in demeanor, but with a fine sense of the absurd, and be enjoyed a good laugh. Fie was always a class act. Tom worked with me when he first joined Covington. We represented states, assisting their health and welfare programs navigate federal lav.,-s and respond to their many challenges. Oklahoma was a leading client. Its health agency”‘-as led by one of those larger-than-life figures that filled the landscape in the Southwest–Lloyd Rader. Shortly after Tom arrived at the firm, a case arose concerning the operation of Oklahoma’s mental institutions, and I asked Tom to go to Oklahoma to investigate the problem and figure out how it could be resolved. With a little trepidation he went off to deal with the legendary Rader, and handled the issue with what became his trademark thoroughness, sensitivity and sound judgment. Thereafter, as additional Oklahoma problems arose, Rader, whose one failing was an in ability to remember names, would ask that we send “Wilson” or “Williams” or “Wilton” to deal with them. We knewwho he meant, and over time Tom handled many delicate and difficult assignments for Oklahoma and other state � lients. The work was particularly satisfying to Tom, for it appealed to his passjon to devote his energies to improving the lot of those in need. Tom’s devotion to public service is seen not only in his two stints in the federal government­ -at the Department of Energy and the Department of Labor–but also in his extensive pro bono woik at Covington. He was particularly focused on the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, and took on several cases of importance that resulted in eliminating workplace practices that discriminated against minorities or persons with disabilities. At the same time, he developed a thriving employment law practice for paying clients, and his well- deserved reputation for fairness and sound judgment led to his engagement by some of the country’s largest companies to oversee their compliance with court decrees intended to eradicate cultures of discrimination. Among the large number of O:ivington partners committed to the advancement of the firm and the preservation of its ideals, Tom stood out. His pam1ers recognized his special qualities, and elected him to the Management O:immittee, where he was a strong and consistent voice for adherence those ideals and for fair and compassionate treatment of its employees. Those same qualities animated his extensive work for many community organizations, and led to his election to the presidency of the D.C Bar. C’..ovington & Burling is a better place for having had Tom Williamson in its midst. He will always be remembered with reverence by all who knew him. RIGIARD W. ROBERTS Tom was a senior C’AJvington associate when I met him well over three decades ago. I was a junior civil rights prosecutor, but he took the time to reach out and cultivate our friendship. He was elevated to partnership and recruited me to come practice civil litigation at the firm. When word spread that Tom had made partner, many rejoiced at his good luck getting in. Plainly, though, it was Covington that was lucky to get him. We young hlack lawyers trembled a bit wondering if we had to match the Tom Williamson gold standard to make it in a firm– Harvard, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Rhodes Scholar, law review editor. Actually, his example set a high bar for all young lawyers — hlack white yellow and brown. Some would think of the song “The Impossible Dream” since Tom’s professional pedigree made him sound Wee “the unreachable star.” But Tom reached out not just to me but to so many. I heard this about Tom from Justice Martin Jenkins of the California Court of Appeals: “He was very good to me when I came to D.C. to work.” And this from one of my lawderks from my early days as a federal judge, Janet Fisher: “I remember that you introduced us at an event many years ago — Tom was a great, generous person; I also remember thinking, why is thjs important man taking his time talking with me, when there are so many more important people in the ro om?” Tom mentored dozens and dozens of others as well and offered them his warm guidance and friendship. He and Shelley honored my wife Vonya and me by having us be the godparents to his firstborn son. Our kids and their kids grew up enjoying Halloween outings and Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings and summer vacation trips together. That gave me the good fortune of getting to know both the fun and the humble sides of Tom. His laugh was infectious. He could cut a mean rug when Motown sounds came on. We’d go out with our kids on our trick-or-treat outings where Tom wore these elaborately festooned Dracula costumes. But as my sister Toni observed, his eloquent table blessings at our holiday meals always contained reminders to honor our elders’ teachings to serve the least among us. Tom and I bonded the most perhaps on our family vacation trips. We both jumped at the opportunity in the lush clear waters off of Maui to snorkel among the spectacular array of marine life he never saw in his native San Francisco Bay and I never saw in my native New York harbor. The train ride to Canada and our sojourn in Italy were flights of fantasy from law practice in Washington. But nothing topped our summers in North C’..arolina. While our spouses and kids were inside our beach-side rental home tending to the rest of the dinner preparations, Tom and I were outside, grilling tl1e meat enttees for the evening and, as tliey say, “talking smack.” You would expect him as a cultured Francopbile never to veer from his highly developed taste in fine wines. On those hot summer days on the Outer Banks though, while I could not lure him down to my passion for Wild Irish Rose or Mad Dog 20-20 or Manischewitz Grape Concord, he did, to my delight, join me in relishing Boone’s Farm or Bartles &Jaymes wine coolers. \Y/e chugged down quite a few. In the past year, he showed me how you face uninvited adversity and soldier forward through it with your head held high. On earth, he soared with the eagles. Today, he flies on the wings of the angels. Bless you, my Brother.