Emory Law Journal

Dedication: Randolph W. Thrower, 1913–2014

The editors of the Emory Law Journal respectfully dedicate this Issue to Randolph W. Thrower.

* * *

Randolph W. Thrower was a leader in virtually every endeavor of his long and active life, which included a remarkable legal career, a dedication to public service, and a devotion to Emory University.

Thrower graduated from Emory University (B.Ph. 1934; J.D. 1936, first honors), where he was President of the Student Body and of his fraternity, while working to pay his way through school. The campus yearbook recognized him as a leader “respected for his sober judgment, admired for his versatility, and liked by all for his genuine friendliness.” While at Emory, he met Margaret Logan Munroe from Quincy, Florida. They were married in 1939 and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary shortly before her death in 2009. Throughout her life she was an integral and beautiful partner in all of Thrower’s endeavors.

He joined the law firm of Sutherland, Tuttle & Brennan in 1936, practiced in the firm’s Atlanta and Washington offices, and was proud to be a partner at Sutherland until his death. During World War II he served in the FBI as a Special Agent (1942–1943) and as Captain in the United States Marine Corps, with overseas service in the Philippines and Okinawa (1944–1945). He returned to the firm and practiced primarily in the area of Federal taxation, including tax controversies, litigation, estate planning and administration, and general corporate and individual taxrelated matters. Thrower was an untiring advocate for his clients, renowned for his thorough preparation of legal arguments, his mastery of the facts, and his persistence.

Thrower was President of the American Bar Foundation, the research arm of the ABA, and served for ten years on its Executive Committee. He was Chair of the ABA’s Section on Taxation and served in the ABA House of Delegates for seventeen years. He was a member of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession from its inception in 1987 until 1993, and was Chair of the State Bar Committee on the Involvement of Women and Minorities in the Profession. He was one of the founders and the first president of the Court of Federal Claims Bar Association. He was a founding trustee, in 1963, of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He was also President of the Atlanta Bar Association, the Lawyers Club of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. He served as President of the Metropolitan Atlanta and Georgia Mental Health Associations. From 1980 to 1992 he served as chair of the City of Atlanta’s Board of Ethics and was cochair of an investigation into allegations of cheating on police promotion exams. Well into his nineties he was Chair of the Georgia Wilderness Institutes, which provide alternatives to incarceration for criminally-delinquent youth.

In the early 1950s, Thrower became active in the fledgling Georgia Republican Party, following the guidance of his senior partner and mentor Elbert Tuttle. He believed in the importance of a twoparty system and was eager to fight the entrenched archsegregationists and the unfair county unit system. In 1956 he ran for Congress as a Republican and made it an unexpectedly close contest.

From 1969 to 1971 Thrower served as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. In that position he worked through many high profile and contentious issues, including the development of a policy to deny taxexempt status for private schools that discriminate on the basis of race. But the most difficult issues were not visible to the public. Thrower steadfastly refused efforts by the Nixon White House to misuse the IRS, and as a result, was directed by the President to resign. He quietly returned to the practice of law; only after the Watergate hearings did he understand what he had been dealing with and speak publicly of his experiences. Thrower’s integrity, courage, and fairness in these and other matters were widely recognized and applauded.

In 1993 the ABA awarded him the American Bar Association Medal, its highest honor, for exceptionally distinguished service by a lawyer to the cause of American jurisprudence, saying: He “set a standard to which all lawyers can aspire. His unique combination of advocacy, conscience and leadership provide a powerful moral force for all who know him. [He] has worked tirelessly as an advocate for the poor, for women, for minorities, and for our system of government that serves us all.”

Thrower received many other accolades, including honorary degrees from Emory University (1984) and Wesleyan College (2006), the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Eleventh Circuit, the Leadership Award of the Atlanta Bar Association, the Founders Award of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, recognition as one of Georgia’s “Heroes, Saints and Legends” by Wesley Woods, the Ben F. Johnson Public Service Award from Georgia State University College of Law, the John Wesley Award from Reinhardt College, the Lifetime AntiDefamation League Achievement Award, a special tribute from the Atlanta Legal Aid Society on its 75th anniversary, and the Coverdell Good Government Award. In 2008 Thrower was honored by the Fulton County Daily Report, which described him as a “Living Legend of the Law.”