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02.28.2013

Georgia Chief Justice Harold G. Clarke (JD ’50) Passes Away

Harold G. Clarke (JD ’50) was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 1979 and became one of the most influential jurists in our state’s history. It is with a heavy heart that I share news today of his passing at the age of 85. Clarke, who had been under hospice care for a prolonged illness, was surrounded by family. My deepest sympathies go to his family members.

Clarke’s time on the bench was characterized by his challenging lawyers to improve their work, his stance against inequality in the court system, and his efforts to improve the state’s indigent defense system. He was called a liberal activist by some and refreshingly progressive by others. But all would agree he was a gentle and unassuming man.

During World War II, Clarke became editor of the Pacific Stars and Stripes for the U.S. Army. When the war concluded, he earned his JD from UGA and, two years later, married Athens-native Nora Gordon. The couple moved to Forsyth where Clarke began his law practice and became editor/publisher of his father’s newspaper, the Monroe Advertiser.

From 1961 to 1971, Clarke served in the Georgia House of Representatives. Five years later, he took over as president of the State Bar of Georgia. Three years after that, in 1979, Clark was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court by former Governor George Busbee. By 1990, he was chief justice. He retired from the court in 1994.

The Georgia graduate led our state’s Supreme Court through what is arguably one of its most transformative periods. According to the AJC, “After Clarke became chief justice in 1990, the court added its first African-American and female justices. The court issued opinions that broadened the rights of free speech and expression, struck down death sentences, cracked down on overly aggressive prosecutors and expanded individual liberties.”

Beyond his good work on the bench, Clarke was known for being an all-around good man. In 1992, Clarke temporarily stepped aside as chief justice to allow his friend, Justice Charles Weltner, to serve his last few months of his life (he’d been battling cancer) as chief justice. The AJC reported that, “after his swearing-in ceremony, Weltner returned to his office and, courtesy of Clarke, found new stationery bearing his name as chief justice.” This illustrates the kindness this man showed to everyone he met.

On behalf of the University of Georgia Alumni Association, I want to extend my sympathies to the Clarke family. I’d also like to congratulate Harold on a life well-lived; his actions and demeanor were appreciated by all Georgians and by the Bulldog family.

Read an extensive feature on Harold G. Clarke from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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04.22.2014

Longtime UGA supporter hangs his “Gone Fishing” sign

William “Dink” H. NeSmith, Jr. (ABJ ’70) is one of the most passionate Bulldogs you will meet. A 1970 graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, NeSmith is co-owner and publisher of Athens-based Community Newspaper, Inc., which publishes dozens of newspapers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. As if his professional responsibilities didn’t keep him busy enough, NeSmith, a self-admitted “joiner,” has dedicated as much (if not more) of his free time to higher education.The list of his past university volunteer roles is unparalleled:

  -  chairman of Grady's advisory board and president of its alumni board;

  -  chairman of the board of directors of the Fanning Leadership Institute;

  -  chairman of the Richard B. Russell Foundation;

  -  member of the Athletic Association Board of Directors; and

  -  trustee of the UGA Foundation

In addition, NeSmith is a past president of the UGA Alumni Association and served from 2003 to 2005. He could always be counted on to support his alma mater, and his leadership was surely a factor in UGA’s rise to a top 20 public institution of higher education.

In 2008, Gov. Sonny Perdue asked NeSmith to join the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents. Five years later, he was serving as chairman of the 18-person governing board for USG. Only the third Athenian to fill this position, NeSmith recently concluded his term as chairman.

Reflecting on a lifetime of professional and philanthropic endeavors, NeSmith recently penned a short piece about his readiness to enjoy his greatest accomplishment: his family. The alumnus is surrounded by an ever-growing swath of Bulldog Faithful: his wife, Pam (BSHE ’71); three children, Alan (BSA ’04), Emily (AB ’99) and Eric (ABJ ’02); and seven grandsons. Upon the birth of each grandchild, NeSmith proudly gave them each a lifetime membership with the UGA Alumni Association. Although the Alumni Association is no longer dues-based, the NeSmith family boasts an impressive 15 lifetime members!

Read more about NeSmith’s transition to “grandpa time” here. This is one alumnus who has certainly earned the right to hang his “Gone Fishing” sign on the door. Thank you for your continued support, Dink, and your fine leadership in many areas across campus and the state.

Dink NeSmith is a regular contributor to the Athens Banner-Herald; read more of his pieces here.

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04.21.2014

McCall Wilder Designs offers timeless clothing options for children

McCall Wilder (ABJ '92) was having trouble locating the perfect outfit for her first baby's Christening. After an usuccessful search, the alumna decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own elegant and timeless clothing pieces for children. And so, in 2001, McCall Wilder Designs was established.

Wilder grew up in Athens with dreams of designing and pursuing journalism. She attended Hollins College in Virginia before transferring to UGA to study broadcast news in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. After graduating, Wilder interned and worked for CNN in Atlanta, taking part in the launch of CNN.com, the Internet’s first news site. She remained at CNN as a writer and producer until 1999.

Wilder’s “Baby McCall line” of heirloom gowns and special occasion outfits was only available by appointment until May 2008, when the first McCall Wilder Couture for Children Boutique & Atelier opened in the heart of Atlanta. The Baby McCall and McCall Wilder Designs lines now include more than 50 different styles, from crib bedding to dresses for teens and women.

Congratulations on your successful business venture, McCall. Your clothes and other products are simply beautiful.

Stay up-to-date on news and design ideas through the McCall Wilder Designs Facebook page.

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04.18.2014

UGA alum leads Nasa team on the precipice of discovery

Above is an illustration of UGA-1785, the first star system to be named after a university.

Roger Hunter (BS ’78) is hoping to answer one of humanity’s greatest questions: can life exist on other planets? Hunter and the NASA Kepler team aim to expand the census of planets and alter our understanding of our place in the Milky Way galaxy. In the five years the Kepler telescope has been in orbit, the team has confirmed 961 additional planets in our solar system.

Hunter has kept a strong relationship with the university over the years. While many Bulldogs show their Georgia pride with car tags and coffee mugs, Hunter honored his alma mater by naming a planetary system UGA-1785.

This year, the Kepler team was awarded with the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy by the National Space Club. The award is given annually to those who have made the most impact on space activities.

Congratulations on the award, Roger! We cannot wait to see what you and your team will find!

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